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Wild Coast: Travels on South America's Untamed Edge Paperback – 27 Jan 2011
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Praise for Panther Soup:
'An important book, reminding us of the links between old and new world, ideals and ideologies, war and peace in our phoenix-like continent. It is at once raw and erudite, deeply moving and strangely leisurely. It is also rich in black humour and insight.(Guardian)
A moving, often humorous, and thoroughly enjoyable account that works as both a wartime recollection and travelogue ... Gimlette strikes just the right notes in juxtaposing the past and the present. He has provided a fine chronicle with broad appeal to general readers. (Booklist)
A completely fascinating book. It opens up a forgotten corner of the world with tremendous flair and shrewd observation. (William Boyd)
Wild Coast is funny, intelligent, revelatory (Joseph O'Neill, author of Netherland)
Great for those interested in Guyanese history, or those looking to explore a South America far from the well-trodden Gringo trail. (Ianthe Butt Real Travel 2011-01-01)
Gimlette has an eye for a juicy story, a willingness to embark on harebrained journeys and a gleeful way with similes, all of which makes this an entertaining introduction to a forgotten corner of the globe. (Siobhan Murphy Metro 2011-02-02)
A fascinating journey... Gimlette's extensive research has given him access to an intoxicating level of detail. (Tom Hawker Wanderlust 2011-03-01)
Gimlette is an old-school traveller, very British, very cheery.
A barrister by trade, the author has an uncanny ability to nail down his characters with a few well-chosen words... Gimlette brings history to life. He artfully merges assiduous research with a storyteller's gift.
John Gimlette is sure to secure a name for himself as both a talented writer and a rare traveller who, as documented in the dark chronicles of his book, has visited South America's wild coast and returned apparently unscathed. Fortunately, his writing sculpts an interesting narrative too, and he conveys the region's horror stories with a healthy dose of humour, knowledge, sincerity and poetry...
As with all good travel books, the pace of Gimlette's investigations and the idiosyncratic nature of his discoveries, no matter how small, are infectious enough to ensure his account holds its own against these literary greats.
Remarkable... Gimlette is, refreshingly, an unfailing enthusiast... Wild Coast is driven by extraordinary dedication, an insatiable curiosity in everything and an enormous empathy for other people. Gimlette's descriptions of landscapes are often hauntingly beautiful, his sense of humour is engagingly dead-pan... His book is characterised by a thoroughness of research that puts most travel writers to shame...
a lucid and lively account of a multi-cultural history...
A reminder... of the way in which travel literature can still fulfil its role of bringing to life some of the world's unjustly neglected corners.
In this compelling and elegant travel memoir, John Gimlette returns to Guyana, the Wild Coast in South America, to discover his ancestral colonial history - one of brutal, cruel and often uncomfortable truthsSee all Product description
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Gimlette's route takes him through what must be a contender for the wildest and strangest region on earth - the Guianas. Most of it is dense jungle - what some might call a fabulously rich ecosystem, but I would just find terrifying. It has it all - anacondas, piranhas, spiders, jaguars that regularly eat people, and that's before you get started on the disgusting and aggressive insect life. For the less squeamish, there is plenty to shock in the people Gimlette meets and the story of the region he tells. Can any other one place claim to have inspired such craziness and extremity, from the Raleigh-inspired search for the mythical city of gold, through murderous slaves, planters and dictators to the Jonestown massacre, with France's notorious Devil's Island penal colony on the way.
Gimlette's grasp of the history is masterful, but it is also cleverly woven into the story of his modern-day journey and the people he meets, all of whom he seems to have charmed into giving away something interesting about themselves and their relationship to the place.
Sometimes travelling in the footsteps of Evelyn Waugh's 1930s trip (which inspired A Handful of Dust (Penguin Modern Classics), the book that means you can never read Dickens again), Gimlette seems almost always unperturbed by the tarantulas - `like a large hairy hand', and all the other beasts, as well as by some of the frankly terrifying people he meets. A brave journey, superbly told - the kind of book you don't want to end.
Gimlette has the knack of bringing to life a vast array of personalities, both current and historical, major and minor, so that, no matter how strange and outlandish their way of life, they remain credible human beings. The research and scholarship that Gimlette undertook shines out of every page. In this respect I would draw the prospective reader's attention to just two of the occasions when Guiana became almost a obsession with the world's press.
In a section headed humorously, As the Age of Sugar Waned, the Rule of the Dentists Began..., he begins to discuss the rule of a married couple Cheddi and Janet Jagan. They were, of course, both dentists; he was of Indian stock and she was Jewish. They were both communists and the idea that people of their political persuasion should be ruling any country in South America, however unusual and backward, sent the western world at the time, into a flat spin.
The second occasion was far more tragic and involved an American cult leader who styled himself the Rev Jim Jones. In 1977 he moved his church The People's Temple to Guyana and a year later the world learned with absolute horror of the mass suicide and/or murder of his 900 followers. This was an American tragedy but it took place in the jungle of Guyana and therefore became associated forever with that country.
This is not a book written in a dry scholarly manner but a history to enjoy, not least because of the writer's many humorous asides.
Lionel Ross-Author & Publisher
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