Most helpful critical review
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 19 December 2011
To be perfectly frank there are many better survival books than this one ('Touching the Void', 'Into Thin Air'), but Yossi Ghinsberg's nerve-wracking record of three weeks lost and alone in the Amazon jungle is still a credible and creditable contender, a grim and harrowing tale of human endurance against all the odds. In the early pages the writing style may be a little 'student travel journal' - the usual gap-year back-packer memoir - but once the expedition is under way there's a noticeable change of gear as Ghinsberg and his three friends go deeper into the jungle, and stray further away from civilization. From the comfort of one's armchair it's frustrating, even annoying, to see how foolish, amateur and trusting they are, completely underestimating the dangers of the environment in which they find themselves and allowing petty jealousies, weaknesses and rivalries to destabilise and ultimately fracture the group dynamic. But this is just the taster, setting the scene for what lies ahead. When the author is finally separated from his friends and finds himself alone in the jungle the real story begins, and the pace and power of the narrative picks up dramatically. What Ghinsberg goes through in his desperate three-week ordeal really does seem to go beyond the scope of human endurance, and the fact he survives (just) is testament to a steely streak of determination and self-belief not evident in the earlier parts of the book. Along the way there are some truly disturbing set pieces (the termite attack is grotesquely unpleasant), and it is these skin-crawling horrors as much as his coming-of-age resolve to win through that make his story worth this recommendation.