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16 Reviews
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book full of travel, adventure and humour.
This is an excellent book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It is well-written, very amusing and contains beautiful photographs to compliment the text. It gives an account of John McCarthy and Brian Keenen's realization of a captive fantasy to travel and walk in the wide open spaces of Chile and the high Andes. Chained together in a dungeon in Beirut the two men...
Published on 21 Sep 1999

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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A good idea, but disappointing in execution
I had looked forward to this book, but I was regrettably disappointed. It hovered between being a travel book and an autobiography and didn't do either very well. A travel book should be about the country, its people and fellow travellers; the two men's relationship got in the way of this. But equally, the relationship was also inadequately described, and too...
Published on 15 Oct 2001


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book full of travel, adventure and humour., 21 Sep 1999
By A Customer
This is an excellent book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. It is well-written, very amusing and contains beautiful photographs to compliment the text. It gives an account of John McCarthy and Brian Keenen's realization of a captive fantasy to travel and walk in the wide open spaces of Chile and the high Andes. Chained together in a dungeon in Beirut the two men hatched an elaborate plan to breed yaks in Patagonnia to help them endure their ordeal; they vowed that when they were released they would travel together and visit these places for real instead of just in the confines of their imagination. This is the account of that journey. It shows the determined, courageous, and brave men that they are, and it is all put together with warm, gentle humour that makes a thrilling journey even more enjoyable. It gives a glimpse of the close, unshakable bond that the two men have developed over the years and draws the reader into that friendship so that by the end of the book you feel as if you were there with them in Chile. Fearful things happen to them along the way, like having to cross a ridge on horseback with a sheer drop on either side, but they show the courage and strength of spirit that got them through Beirut; they control their fear and carry on. There is also some insight into their thoughts and feelings and how the journey related back to their experiences in captivity; these are interesting and enlightening. And, of course, they keep you guessing until virtually the end of the book what is going to happen with their yak-farming plans!!! Overall, a delightful book; a rich combination of travel, adventure, humour and relationships. Well worth a read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable testament of captivity and freedom, 6 Nov 1999
By A Customer
As an avid fan of both SOME OTHER RAINBOW and AN EVIL CRADLING I have long wanted to know how these two inspiring men dealt with the journey from captivity to freedom, a journey between extremes that most of us, thank God, have never had to experience. In any event, we would want John and his irascible cell-mate as our guides, and their book is unusually compelling, as well as being enlightening, amusing and wonderfully well written. Keenan has been labeled the poet and McCarthy the journalist, but John proves here that he writes like a dream, and has retained and built upon the affecting humanity that he displayed upon his release from Beirut. This is a marvellous book in every sense, and though the yak farm proved elusive, there is much else for the reader to find.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful story of friendship, poetry and yaks., 18 Jan 2000
By 
Simon C McCrum (Jakarta, Indonesia) - See all my reviews
It must be very difficult for two authors to write a book, alternating short paragraphs with each other. It must be doubly difficult if the two authors are so different and have such different styles. Yet, despite these obstacles (maybe because of them?), this book works so very well. I really enjoyed it.
Keenan is the more erudite of the two, making their incredible journey along the length of Chile, following his spirits of Neruda and O'Higgins, and his paragraphs are filled with the poetry of the former and the life and times of the latter. McCarthy on the other hand writes in a delightfully laconic way, and seems to effortless glide through this journey. Keenan's route is the more tortured.
What is clear though is that these two very different people are still extremely close and have a friendship the strength and depth of which few of us will ever experience. Their joy in each other's company is very evident, despite the hardships of the journey and the minor bickering that inevitably accompanies any prolonged time spent together.
This book is a testament to friendship, to realising dreams, to leaving behind (as much as would ever be possible) a terrifying ordeal and to hope for the future.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sit back, read, and enjoy, 28 Oct 1999
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This is a delightful epilog to the authors' hostage stories. To be sure, a celebrity's book is always about the topic AND the celebrity. And after reading An Evil Cradling and Some Other Rainbow, who wouldn't want to know that the writers are fine and flourishing? That said, it is refreshing to put away the familiar rugged-individualist-on-a-jaunt account to spend time with a couple of normal guys on a trek, in search of a past fantasy. Atypically, one consults Neruda's poetry as if it were a guidebook while the other tries to maintain an urban fastidiousness in a desert frontier. But they are also apprehensive about horseback riding on narrow mountain trails, afraid of heights, wary of night drives down unmarked country roads, tapped out by sightseeing, and intrigued by local politics. They eat, they sleep, they shop, they bicker, and they enjoy their friendship. Who couldn't relate to these two? After reading this book I found myself searching for more photos of places they visited and vistas they described. I'll also admit to retrieving a dormant volume of Neruda from my own shelves to revisit a few favorite poems. Not a bad result of a light read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A super read which entralls one from beginning to end., 3 July 2000
By A Customer
Between Extremes is a rattling good read which draws one inexerorably into the minds of two close friends who have endured so much yet have emerged from darkness to realise their dreams. It gives the reader a lighthearted insight into two deep personalities who are obviously totally compatible. A book to be read and reread.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far more than a story of a journey, 30 May 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Between Extremes: A Journey Beyond Imagination (Paperback)
Keenan & McCarthy provide plenty of enjoyment in this book. The delight of their plans in incarceration coming true (ok no yaks were farmed) is written individually rather than combined adding to the magic. They are completely different characters yet their history makes them perfect travelling companions - McCarthy's adventurer and Keenan's pessimistic, romantic spirits keep the book flowing. This more far more than a story of a journey it is a tale of 2 remarkable men realising dreams and exercising dark times.
The only failing is the constant reverting to Neruda (Keenan), this often takes away from the adventure and enjoyment of the Chile. Keenan appears transfixed, particularly towards the end of the book (travels) with Neruda. A minor blip on an otherwise good read.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A good idea, but disappointing in execution, 15 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Between Extremes: A Journey Beyond Imagination (Paperback)
I had looked forward to this book, but I was regrettably disappointed. It hovered between being a travel book and an autobiography and didn't do either very well. A travel book should be about the country, its people and fellow travellers; the two men's relationship got in the way of this. But equally, the relationship was also inadequately described, and too frequently it descended into no more than amateurish name-calling. They obviously have a close though testy respect for each other, a respect and mutual support that helped them through their difficult captivity, but its description in the book was shallow.
I did however, like the idea that both authors interspersed their input and bounced the narrative between them. I enjoyed John's input more than Brian's, who too often wandered off into abstractions and over-emphasis quotations from Neruda.
To be honest, I was pleased when I had finished it.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There is more to Chile than Pablo Neruda, 7 Feb 2001
By 
E. Capurro (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Between Extremes: A Journey Beyond Imagination (Paperback)
I am a Brit currently living in Chile - and this book was a disappointment to me. Unlike other books I have read on Chile this book did not convey the character of the people or the stunning beauty of the country.
I enjoyed the style of the book - it was a refreshing change to see two different view points set out section by section rather then the thoughts of the two mingled together. But this did not do Mr Keenan any favors - for by the end of the book I was skipping his sections. Pablo Neruda's poety is worth reading - there is no doubt - but there is so much more to Chile than one poet.
This country is stunningly beautiful - it's people so different in each region of this land - the scenery so distinct from north to south - and I was so disappointed that so little of that came across in their writing. In the end I felt that this book was more about their friendship and themselves than about a country which in recent times has had more publicity about some of its citizens than it has about its breathtaking beauty.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stick with it - its worth it, 2 May 2007
By 
Four Violets (Hertford UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Between Extremes: A Journey Beyond Imagination (Paperback)
John MCarthy was captured in Beirut in April 1986 and held hostage for five years. Brian Keenan shared the last four of them. The two men were thrown back onto their own inner reserves, amongst the fear and squalor of their tiny, ever changing cells, often chained and sometimes forbidden to speak. Using a shared black humour and their fertile imaginations they passed the endless hours. One of the fantasies they dreamed of was to one day start a yak farm in Patagonia.

"Between Extremes", written by both men in alternating sections, describes how, five years after their release, they finally travelled down the entire length of Chile to the Patagonia they had so longed to see.

Apart from a hairy horseback ride over the Andes, the book really does not pick up interest until the last few chapters when they finally arrive at Puerto Natales. But perhaps that's the whole point about both friendship and travel. There are huge amounts of time which are tedious, monotonous, things go wrong and get on your nerves, there are arguments and pettiness. Finally shining through is an affirmation of their underlying affection and a mutual tribute to the fact they kept each other alive in dark times. The yak farm would not become a reality, but they would never cease to be grateful for each other's existence, and tolerate each other's idiosyncrisies - Keenan's snoring and McCarthy's obsession with his psion and his fussy planning. I even eventually forgave Keenan his obsession with quoting Neruda, whose poetry I struggled in vain to enjoy, for the sake of his honesty and humanity.

What this book has really done is to fire me up to read each of their own personal accounts of their time in captivity.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight, 16 Oct 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Between Extremes: A Journey Beyond Imagination (Paperback)
This record of the journey of Keenan and McCarthy to Chile provided great insights into the friendship built up during capitivity. The intimate knowledge of one another's thoughts and feelings proved fascinating reading and the tales of their adventures, particularly on horseback, enabled the reader to see the journey through their own eyes.
A great read and I would also recommend 'An Evil Cradling' by Brian Keenan which describes his experiences in captivity.
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Between Extremes: A Journey Beyond Imagination
Between Extremes: A Journey Beyond Imagination by John McCarthy (Paperback - 1 Sep 2000)
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