- [-] Other Available FormatsOur PriceNew & Used MarketplaceLife and Death in the Andes (Paperback)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster$17.00Life and Death in the Andes (Audio Compact Disc - Unabridged)
Publisher: Tantor Audio$54.99
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-09-14
- Reviewer: Staff
Filmmaker MacQuarrie (The Last Days of the Incas) assembles an overly ambitious mix of travelogue, history, and anthropological study that tours the Andes mountain range through stories of well-known people who inhabited the region in the past. The hodgepodge of miniature historical accounts, which leap around in time and subject, is strung together primarily by geography. The figures include Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar in the late 1980s and 90s, naturalist Charles Darwin on his trip to the Galápagos Islands, famous bandits Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara during his last days in the Bolivian forest, among others. MacQuarrie interjects himself into the narrative, sometimes as a reporter (as when he interviews the colonel in charge of hunting down Escobar) and other times as a traveler (as when he recounts arguing with an elderly Chinese tourist about creationism while on a boat tour of the Galápagos). The time line of this personal subthread is never apparent and makes for a stringy, convoluted narrative that fails to create a comprehensive whole. Agent: Sarah Lazin, Sarah Lazin Books. (Dec.)
The call of the wild in South America
Using the wildly diverse 4,300-mile South American mountain chain as a backdrop, filmmaker and writer Kim MacQuarrie revisits the triumphs and depredations of such varied figures in the region as Charles Darwin, Che Guevara, drug cartel chief Pablo Escobar, Machu Picchu “discoverer” Hiram Bingham and the ever-mythic Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
But MacQuarrie is no hit-and-run chronicler cherry-picking fables. He immerses himself in the territory he’s been exploring since the late 1980s, when he first journeyed to Peru to interview imprisoned members of the Shining Path guerrilla movement. His account of how Shining Path leader Abimael Guzmán was finally run to ground is both a rousing good yarn and a case study in political error.
The author shows that Guevara’s undoing was an instance of revolutionary fervor overriding common sense. He brings fresh details to the narrative by tracking down the teacher who fed and conversed with Guevara in the hours before a Bolivian soldier executed him.
Although famous names provide much of the material in Life and Death in the Andes, they occupy only a part of MacQuarrie’s attention. He also delves into local cultures, explaining, for example, how an American helped found a thriving cooperative that rekindled interest in traditional Peruvian weaving. He retraces Darwin’s steps on the Galápagos Islands and travels to the tip of the continent to meet the last speaker of the once flourishing Yamana Indian language, destroyed by the ravages of colonialism. MacQuarrie is a master storyteller whose cinematic eye always shines through.