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Paradise With Serpents: Travels in the Lost World of Paraguay Paperback – 3 Sep 2007

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Product details

  • Paperback: 386 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (3 Sept. 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0002570963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0002570961
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 655,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'[Carver] writes with colour and intelligence, and is a first-rate travel writer.' Sunday Telegraph

‘Carver's vision of the Old World seen from the New puts this book into a mould-breaking category. His insights into spiraling state control and individual alienation back home owe everything to the immense gulf separating Paraguay's anarchy from Europe's control-freakery.' Independent

'Like the best kind of person, it is at once intelligent, charming, funny, entertaining, quirky, inconsistent, flawed, infuriating and above all deeply human. I loved it.' Guardian

‘Carver's descriptions of this marvelous, seriously dangerous place are vivid, and set the scene for a piece of writing that fascinates to the very end.' Waterstone's Books Quarterly

‘Carver proves both funny and talented as he deftly links political history with local colour. And, while retaining a strong narrative voice, he never steals the limelight from the real hero of the book: Paraguay itself.' Financial Times

'With this informed, thoughtful, closely observed, unsparingly funny and elegantly crafted book, Carver has helped ensure that at least one country will remain free of the package–holiday crowds.' The Tablet

About the Author

Robert Carver was brought up in Cyprus, Turkey and India. Educated at the Scuola Medici, Florence, and Durham University, where he read Oriental Studies and Politics, he taught English in a maximum security gaol in Australia and worked as a BBC World Service reporter in Eastern Europe and the Levant. Four of his plays have been broadcast by the BBC. He has written for the Sunday Times, the Observer, the Daily Telegraph and other papers and is the author of The Accursed Mountains (Flamingo 1999)


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Diegoista on 21 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
I too echo the previous reviewer. Carver makes Paraguay seem more like war-torn Congo. Was the really the same country I'd spent a month in shortly before reading this book? Indeed, was this the same Asunción I'd stayed in; taking buses freely around the city, eating in restaurants, going to football matches? Asunción needs the same sensible precautions that any visit to a third world capital requires, but Caracas, Bogota or San Salvador is isn't.

The nonsense starts even before he arrives in Paraguay, as apparantly his flight connection at Guarulhos airport in Sao Paulo is swarming with gun toting ranch hands. Perhaps the airport security people had that day off. Like the reviewer mentioned, the book is riddled with geografical errors. Carver tells us his bus from Encarnacion to Trinidad passes through the German settlement of Honenau, telling us of the latter he didn't get off the bus as he didn't like the look of it. Hardly surprising, as it is actually 10 km further on!

Bruce Chatwin seemed to start the trend for upper class English writers visting latin america and writing semi-fabricated travelogs, but his curiosity, research, imagination, turn of phrase and touch of Borges, allowed him to produce a masterpiece with 'In Patagonia'. Curiously, Carver's opening and closing chapters about a long lost great uncle who adventured in South America have a remarkable similarity to Chatwin's about a long lost great uncle who adventured in South America.

The first half of the book is readable enough (though the description of Concepcion is laughable) as Carver begins to go stir crazy in his five star hotel, with some touches of self-awareness from the author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A. Browne on 30 May 2012
Format: Paperback
If you want to understand Paraguay read 'at the tomb of the inflatable pig' by John Gimlette. I kept asking myself how did this country change so much between the two books it was only three years. To judge by other reviews it did not they seem to put it all down to the fevered imagination of the author. I dont know the place well enough to comment. I found the book to be very interesting when discussing the country's jesuit past ,particularily their settlements. It really brought the movie 'The Mission ' to life even if it was set in Brazil.
The many strange groups who set up in Paraguay are discussed / glossed over i just felt there was so much more the author could be telling us i do not know if this is reticence or lack of knowledge.Either way it is annoying.
I found some of his travels to be interesting and other bits were a case of why bother. It was as if the author was trying to make it interesting and just coming up short.
In summary good in parts but better books out there.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Pila99 on 13 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
I doubt that the author has even been to Paraguay. Too many inaccuracies all over the book. Names of places and people mis-spelled (if I were to write a book about a place -specially if I claim I have been there- I woluld make sure I take note of the name of places I supposedly have been to. A few examples: Itapa hydroelectric dam for Itaipu, San Juan Caballero or San Pedro Caballero City for Pedro Juan Caballero, Jalapa for Jopara (language of mixed-spanish guarani origin).
Babies no allowed on the street for fear of been snatch by vultures, being randomly attacked by a machete holding person in the city centre, vampire bats in the hotel room, people travelling in planes holding firearms, c'mon this a work of fiction, not a travel book. This man is trying to make people think he was living in dangerously, when probably, if he ever went to Paraguay, he really had the most boring trip of his life!!!. Read it as a novel and you might enjoy it, try to get any real information about the country from this book and you'll realise this book isn't worth a penny. If I wasn't as honest as I am,it would have been returned and a full refund requested. It is now ending where it belongs: the bin!!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By J. Michna on 3 Aug. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having read this book before my visit to Asuncion in Paraguay, I began to have second thoughts about actually going ! The author paints a picture in his book of a land full of bandits, desparado's, gun-toting gangsters and mafiaso.

The reality was very different and at no time during my visit to Asuncion did I feel threatened. Travelling on the public buses was a pleasure and not the grim and dangerous experience which the author describes. I consider that the author was more concerned when writing this book to create an image of himself as some bold and daring adventurer who dares go where others fear to tread.

If you are considering visiting Paraguay, do not waste your money on this 'fantasy'.
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