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Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon Paperback – June 5, 2000

4.0 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Herndon, a U.S Navy captain, was ordered by the government to explore the Amazon in 1851 and write down his observations. Within a year he and his group had traveled more than 4000 miles by canoe, by mule, and often on foot at the peril of disease, hostiles, and being chomped by snakes (and today's trekkers carp because they can't plug in their hair dryers). His notes proved so marvelously written that the Secretary of the Navy ordered 10,000 copies printed. They went fast, and 20,000 more followed.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

Herndon sacrificed his life in 1857, trying to save six hundred passengers and crew when his ship, the Central America, foundered in a hurricane off the Carolina coast. Naval officers erected a monument to his memory, which still stands at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Gary Kinder is the author of the best-selling books Victim and Light Years. He began researching this story in 1987 and was aboard the "Arctic Discoverer" in 1989, when Thompson announced his find to the public. Gary Kinder lives in Seattle with his wife and two daughters. He teaches advanced writing seminars to lawyers across the country.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (June 5, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802137040
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802137043
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #842,185 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
... but told in a much more stylish and readable manner. I bought this book on the strength of reading about Capt. Herndon's sacrifice in Gary Kinder's "Ship of Gold...". He seemed to epitomise the old-style captain, caring about his passengers, crew and above all his ship, and I was interested to read more about the man.
I was not disappointed; what could have been a dusty tome full of only facts and figures, emerges as a rivetting account of the trials endured during the trip, and vivid descriptions of a land that was as yet virtually unknown to the 'civilised' world, told as a very readable narrative. This easy style is what captured the hearts and minds of the Anmerican (and European) public in a book which went into several reprints of 10,000s (as opposed to the usual Congress print run of 100+!).
It also captured the imagination of a certain Samuel Clemens, who, after reading the book, immediately took steamer from St.Louis to New Orleans to get a boat to the Amazon. Imagine his disappointment when he found no passage ... sitting, bemoaning his ill luck, he hears the cries of the steamers "Mark twain!" - the rest is history.
I have one reservation (hence only ****); during his editing & research for the book, Mr.Kinder deletes a lot of sections that I personally would have found very interesting, such as crops grown, goods & minerals available and costs of trade items. If these had been included as an appendix, I think it would have added to the charm of the book.
Nevertheless, one of the best pieces of historical travel writing I have ever read.
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Format: Paperback
Captain William Lewis Herndon gives a very well written narrative of what it was like to explore South America in 1851-1852. He took the first United States' expedition from the west side of the Peruvian Andes,then over and through the Brazilian Amazon to the Atlantic Ocean. His desriptions of the local people and their cultures, along with how they survived, their agricultural methods and practices are fascinating. He also includes geological, botanical and zoological observations all along the way. He describes how difficult it was to cross the Andes at elevations above 17,000 feet, the mining industries in the mountains, what kinds of plants grow here and there, the animals they encounter. A few unbelievable (but verifiable?) accounts were of the tailed people who lived up the Jurua tributary, the three and a half foot people, blue mud, etc. These were all enjoyable to read. The only drawback was the overall purpose of the expedition. It was a way to exploit the Andes Mountains and Amazon of their natural resources, from the gold, silver, etc in the mountains to harvesting the forests for commercial use. Just like Gary Kinder said in his foreword to the book, if Herndon was alive today, he may have a different opinion. A very good read though if you enjoy exploration.
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Before I comment further on this book I must say I quite agree with another reviewer who wrote. "I have one reservation (hence only ****); during his editing & research for the book, Mr. Kinder deletes a lot of sections that I personally would have found very interesting, such as crops grown, goods & minerals available and costs of trade items. If these had been included as an appendix, I think it would have added to the charm of the book". {COMMENT BY A.J. WATSON]. Also I might add the information given in the original on the Amazonian tribes also deleted in the "Grove Press edition" I posses, I would have found quite interesting. Mr. Kinder seems to take it upon himself to be the judge of what others would find interesting.
Let me quote from another reviewer; "This is a absolutely fascinating historical account marred by at least a thousand typos. It was sheer pain to get through. Buyers deserve more for their dollar. Yes, we were warned by the publisher, but the company also wrote that the robot that turned the pages and photographed each page "is 99 percent accurate." Wow". Yes, I feel sorry for those who purchased "on demand computerized" TRASH reprints from such publishers as "General Books" or "Kessinger". I wish Amazon would not sell this trash or to at least warn the potential buyer. Also they are overpriced and practically never include reproductions of maps and illustrations from the original. The reader must look for reprints from such quality publishers as "Dover" or "Elibron" [Adamant Media Corp.], unfortunately though they have a wide list of titles available they may not have a particular title you are seeking. Let's warn each other of the "trash" reprints on works of travel and exploration, PLEASE!
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This is only volume 2 of the two volume report about the amazon, and vol 1 was written by Herndon, and vol 2 by another army officer on the expedition. not as promised
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Format: Paperback
This book is a joy to read. A window in time, if you will, of an exciting age. A time when it meant something to travel into the unknown. While I doubt everyone will agree with some of the things said in the book, it still is an opportunity to see into the past.
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