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Andes [Hardcover]

Michael Jacobs
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

6 May 2010
Stretching for over 5,500 miles, and containing the highest active volcanoes in the world, the largest salt flat, the highest lake, and peaks rivalled in size only by the Himalayas, the Andes impress by statistics alone. But beyond the range's sheer immensity, is its concentration of radically contrasting scenery and climates. In this remarkable book, travel writer Michael Jacobs journeys across seven different countries, from the balmy Caribbean to the inhospitable islands of the Tierra del Fuego, through the relics of ancient civilisations, to retrace the footsteps of previous travellers. His route begins in Venezuela, following the path of the great 19th Century revolutionary Simon Bolivar. On his way Jacobs attempts to uncover the stories of those who have shared his fascination, and to reveal the secrets of a region steeped in history, science and myth.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 580 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books; 1st Edition edition (6 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847081290
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847081292
  • Product Dimensions: 23.8 x 15.8 x 5.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 327,443 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


`Jacobs's unmannered style and easy erudition is a delight ... Andes is as assured as any of the prime travel classics' --Guardian

`Anyone with an interest in the region will delight in its many treasures' --Financial Times

'Filled with exhilaration ... Jacobs is courageous, curious and able to conjure a sense of wonder about what he sees' --Literary Review

`Makes for vivid reading ... he entices out of his encounters a human warmth and depth' --Independent

`A well-researched compendium of Andean adventures'

About the Author

MICHAEL JACOBS was born in Italy and studied Art History in London and the US. He is the author of several travel books, and was short-listed for the 2004 Thomas Cook prize. He lives in Spain and London

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended 25 Jun 2010
By William
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Like many Europeans I had a sketchy knowledge of South America which of course was influenced by many stereotypes and cliches. Indeed Michael covers some of that ground with hair raising bus journeys, obstinate officials and meetings with sleek politicians. The book however brought the whole continent alive for me with an intertwining of history, geography and daily life of the peoples of the Andean countries. Indeed there were times that I found it difficult to put the book down such was the the engaging narrative. Michael starts his journey in Venezuela with his compadre Manolo from his adopted village in Spain and heads south, ending pretty much as far into the tip of South America as it's possible to go. After Manolo returns to Spain, Michael travel alone but then is joined in Peru by another of his pals from Andalucia Chris Stewart of Genesis and Driving over Lemons fame. I loved the way Michael put his adventures into historical context bringing into his book a range of characters including Hugo Chavez, Che Guavara, Simon Bolivar, Alexander von Humbolt, Fransisco Pizarro and the last of the indigenous kings Atahualpa and Tupac Amaru II. For one reason or another I found the book a little slow to start but after persisting I was hooked. Thoroughly recommended if you want learn more about South America or simply if you'd like to enjoy some travellers tales from this erudite and witty author.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars andes 26 Sep 2010
For those who have read Michael Jacobs Ghost Train this title sounded irresistible. In fact I found it difficult to put down. His enthusiasm for, and knowledge of the countries he passes through is is infectious. There are so many anecdotes of fellow travelers and the many friends re-encountered, as well as Jacobs overwhelming fascination with the Andes. The whole history of the Andes over many eventful centuries is never far from the surface. For those like me who have a little acquaintance with these regions it was a delight, for others I am sure that they will find themselves itching to go.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of travel literature 8 May 2010
Michael Jacobs has always attracted a select but passionate readership. With Andes he is bound to gain more admirers, and perhaps to win at last the widespread recognition he so greatly deserves. After having so movingly followed in his grandfather's footsteps in his previous work, Ghost Train through the Andes, he now undertakes an epic and metaphorically resonant journey the whole length of this longest of world ranges, from the Tropics down almost to the fringes of Antarctica. With Jacobs as a guide, we discover the peoples, landscapes, culture, history and science of a vast continent; and we also share with him countless revealing and often nail-biting adventures that display his humanity, good nature and relentless sense of humour and pathos. The book's final pages, set in mid winter in the southern tip of Patagonia, are as sad, soulful and beautiful as anything you are likely to find in travel literature. Every time I review a book of Jacobs's I say that it is his best; but he has now written a work whose greatness would be difficult in future to surpass. This is the long awaited masterpiece of one of the major travel writers of our day.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 29 Jun 2011
As someone who has travelled and climbed extensively in the Andes I bought this book expecting it to be a really good read, but having just finished it I was generally disappointed. The book does have some good features, with plenty of historical information about Bolivar and Humboldt, but I found so many mistakes in the areas about which I am knowledgeable that I don't know if I can trust the other stuff that I read.
Many of these mistakes seem to be due to poor editing and proof-reading (use a spell checker!) but some are also fundamental errors of knowledge on the part of the author. For example the recurrent mispellings of "Telhuelche" and "Macchu Picchu" as well as many others, dropped words from sentences mucking up the grammar and the volcano Lanin, mysteriously renamed "Lican". The author completely confuses the peaks of Cerro Fitzroy and Cerro Torre - referring to Fitzroy as "the tower" and attributing Maestri's infamous ascent of Cerro Torre to Fitzroy. These are just a few examples, there appeared to be an error of some sort or another on every other page. The authors "English legions" who helped Bolivar at the Battle of Boyaca were actually British legions, with the majority of their commanders being Irishmen.!
Overall I felt the book was not one of the more interesting "travel" books I have read either. For me there was too much ruminating about long ago hisorical events. Also there seemed to be a lot of meetings with influential people and free stays in up-market hotels and too few meetings with really interesting people in real places. The fact that 80% of the book covers just the northern 40% of the Andes seemed a bit strange as well. There are lots of interesting people and places in Chile and Argentina as well.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not Bad 8 Mar 2014
By Nico
This is not a bad book. I found the historical subject particularly concerning Bolivar interesting because I knew little about them prior to this and it therefore helped explain the past political and historical landscape of the Andean nations. I also thought the author did a pretty good job in a general sense describing the current political and social landscape. Which is fair enough given the scope of the book.

However I didn't feel he was quite as good on the natural landscape of the Andes. There were lots of interesting facts and figures but I felt a certain disappointment at times with descriptions and at times found them almost a bit humdrum.

On the whole though I think the book is worth a read particularly for people who haven't been to that part of the world. i think people who have or have a very strong knowledge of it may not get quite as much out of it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars now after his untimely death no more words so enjoy
..but then I did get a mention ;) seriously Michael Jacobs had a way with words and an affection for the after his untimely death no more words so enjoy this
Published 1 month ago by Branwen Patagonia
4.0 out of 5 stars Mainly good
This book started slowly, while the writer name dropped his way through the northern countries of the Andes. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Doug
4.0 out of 5 stars Dogged Travels
The enticingly chunky Andes follows Michael Jacobs as he treks along the spine of South America, from Venezuela in the North to the Southern tip of the continent, where the vast... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Amy James
2.0 out of 5 stars Experiencing South America through a queer eye...
Despite a few geographical inaccuracies and names of places wrongly spelled, Jacobs manages to provide a readable account of his journey through South America, which follows on the... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Paddington
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read
The book gives a very good account of Jacobs travels following the path of Humboldt and Bolivar. It gives great detail of the history of the countries surrounding the Andes and the... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Jwc10
4.0 out of 5 stars Andes
Haven't got to the end of it yet! Enjoying the book but I am more interested in the geographical/ travel side than the historical/ political side. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Linda jh
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous
A wonderful book, beautifully written, which impresses on the reader the full majesty of the Andes and the vastness of South America. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Edward Sutro
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific read for anyone with an interest in the Andes
This is a well written, riveting book with all sorts of historical asides and musings that catches much of the spirit of the Andes. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Mr. A. J. Downs
1.0 out of 5 stars Hard reading
I would not have thought that a travel book about the Andes could be such hard work to read - but if you want to know all about the politics and not much about the people and... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Felicity Brasier
4.0 out of 5 stars An astounding achievement...
It is undoubtedly a fantastic achievement to travel the entire 'length' of the Andes, which is what the author did. Read more
Published 23 months ago by ADAM
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