Between Extremes: A Journey Beyond Imagination Hardcover – 2 Sep 1999
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Throughout their long captivity in Beirut, John McCarthy and Brian Keenan would often retreat to the lost paradises of their imagination, and particularly to the Chile of Isabel Allende's The House of Spirits, a land of and between extremes. Five years after their return from Beirut, Keenan and McCarthy travelled along South America's backbone, from the parched and scorching Atacama desert in the north to freezing, wind-torn Patagonia 3000 miles south, to realise their dream.
In addition to the two northern voices writing in unison is the continuous presence of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. The Latin voice provides a delicate counterpoint to the prose, which is both fluid and humorous.
Between Extremes contains excellent descriptions of an awesome landscape and it guides the reader towards a penetrating and often surprising vision of the collective psychology of a society seeking to rediscover itself following the traumatic period of the Pinochet regime. At the same time, the two travellers seek to redefine their own friendship--this time in open spaces. --Philippa West
"'One of the funniest and most moving testaments to friendship that one is likely to read'" (Stuart Wavell The Sunday Times)
"'Such an absorbing subject, so deeply and warmly expressed'" (Sara Wheeler Daily Telegraph)
"'The best travel book I've read so far this year'" (Pete Carthy Time Out)
"'They take us every step of the way with a wonderfully infectious joie de vivre'" (Independent on Sunday)
"'Such a vivid and inspiring odyssey that captivated readers will be spurred into booking flights to Chile...Fun glows from every page even in wretched times'" (Irish Independent) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a book I read many years ago and couldn't find my copy .Amazon's speedy delivery meant it arrived in time for my son who flew the next day to S. America. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amazon Customer
A great insight into Chile and into two amazing writers. I love the way the style and the content of the writing of Keenan and McCarthy inter-mingled and completed each other, and... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Rosemary
It was an incredible journey. The two men after spending years in captivity, went somewhere in the world where they felt the opposite of a prisoner. A very inspiring readPublished on 4 Sept. 2013 by Victoria Haigh
Refreshing, as it must have been for Keenan and McCarthy. A couple of contrasting characters who had to get to like each other when in kidnap prison. Read morePublished on 19 April 2013 by K. Steele
A gripping and humorous account of a dream materialising. During their time as hostages in Lebanon, these 2 men survived their difficult time by planning to open a yak farm in... Read morePublished on 27 Nov. 2012 by Mrs Chris Gordon
Bought this book in error and didnt really enjoy. I recommend buying 'An Evil Cradling' by Brian Keenan which is an awesome read but does not yet seem to be available in Kindle... Read morePublished on 15 Sept. 2012 by FionaShrek
If this was just a travel book, it would be pretty mediocre fare. However, it isn't. The 'extremes' of the title are not merely those of Chile, but the personalities of two very... Read morePublished on 3 Oct. 2007 by D. V. Glasgow