If you have not read this book and enjoy adventures and travel writing, this book is a must. It is an account of a missionary family (not in the least pious!) who settled in Tierra del Fuego at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries. Written by the author, son of the original missionary, in 1947, it is extraordinary the detail of his recollection. It was the book that fired Bruce Chatwin in his youth and set him on his journey to Patagonia.
Unique and mandatory reading before and after a visit to Tierra del Fuego. The book can be read on more levels, for example the ethnographic: the collision of the European and the native cultures, and of the natural history. First of all the book tells us of the fragility of the Uttermost Part of the Earth. As a reader you feel grateful that such a book has ever been written.
This book simply should be read by all intelligent people. It is a true account of how the Americas should have been, could have been, colonised. Colonised with wisdom, sympathy, kindness and an amazing will to learn on the part of both colonisers and native tribes. You'll never forget it.
In a world that mythologises the lost cultures of native Americans with the scanty information available after their corruption or destruction through contact with western civilisation, this book seems to me almost unique in such a clear and full account of the intact tribes of Tierra del Fuego. I have heard it written that Lucas Bridges is a rather 'pedestrian' writer but I think he is careful not to overblow his text and allow it to remain faithful to the truth, and indeed his life and tales of the Yaghan and Ona peoples before their dissapearence is simply amazing.
To me this is simply one of the most incredible stories ever written.