Jacobs s writing deploys a poetic ear and painterly eye to achieve ruminations akin to those of Coleridge wandering Lakeland... we reach the point that no travel book is supposed to reach, whereby the snake eats its tail: instead of breaking free into the wild he adores and does often find, Jacobs gives the lie to travel writing in this shrunken world conquered by mobile phones, contempt for nature and the plague of tourism --Observer
An utterly beguiling amalgam of travel journalism and family history --Spectator
Travel writing at its best... pulses with an elegiac, penumbral light --Independent
A profound and moving meditation on memory loss... Jacobs wears his erudition lightly, and has some amusing encounters along the way... Entertaining, touching and quixotic --Literary Review
In 2011, Michael Jacobs travelled its whole length to the river's source high up in Andean moorlands controlled by guerrillas. In spellbinding prose, The Robber of Memories charts the dangers he negotiated - including the claustrophobic, snail-slow journey upriver by a vast tugboat and a terrifying three day encounter with the FARC - while uncovering the river's history of pioneering explorations, environmental decline and political violence.
An extra dimension was added to his journey by a chance meeting with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whose memories are rapidly fading and increasingly concentrate on the enchanted Magdalena of his youth. As Jacobs delves into the history of destruction and decay along the river, he also makes a deeply personal exploration into memory and its loss. Coincidentally, not far from the river's banks, lies a group of townships with the highest incidence of early onset Alzheimer's in the world. Jacobs reflects on the lives of his father, and his mother - sufferers respectively from Alzheimer's and dementia - as he travels upstream towards what comes to seem like a heartland of mystery, magic and darkness.