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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 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.
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on 9 September 2008
You don't have to be into travelling to enjoy this book - I found it to be utterly gripping as a story in its own right. True, the writing style isn't sophisticated, but that didn't take anything away for me. In the genre of 'Touching the Void', I was left turning each page gagging to know what was going to happen next. And all from the safety of my own armchair. Marvellous.
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on 26 August 2008
I loved this book - yes in parts it maybe the writing style isn't as polished as some books you see on the shelf, but I feel this only highlights how young Yossi was when he took this trip and reflects a young man's voice. The story feels real and raw, rather than it has been tampered with and over edited. Absolutely amazing story which shows unbelievable strength of character, in short a real page turner which I would thoroughly recommend.
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on 16 July 2008
I'm not usually interested in travel books, but my housemate is just setting off for Brazil and is reading everything concerning the Amazon she can get her hands on. So I decided to have a leaf through its pages, while waiting for my dinner to cook.

...Six hours later I put it down. I almost forgot I was reading a biography rather than a novel. Ghinsberg manages to transport you back to the event with such ease and fluidity that you can't help but continue to read. Instead of pages and pages of description, Ghinsberg uses a lot of dialogue, which helps readers like me, who are not regulars of the travel genre, to easily follow the action. At every turn for the worst my heart began to race, I kept all my lights on, just in case fire ants happened to be lurking in my living room.

I recommend this book to readers of non-fiction and fiction alike. Ghinsberg's story is truly disturbing and will rival any good thriller.
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I suggest not reading too many reviews, and definitely not Googling the book as it can give parts of the story away. I did both after completing it and am very pleased I did not do so before buying it.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book [Edit: so much so that I am re-reading it, and once you know the whole story you pick new things up the second time around]. It is true that it takes a long time to get to the incident that leads to being `lost in the jungle' (I am deliberately being vague on that as I am trying not to give anything away) but, to my surprise, I am pleased that it took that long. The build-up is relevant to the rest of the book - you need to get to know the characters. It also helps to put you in the position of the people involved.

I read the book in just three days. The events happened a long time ago - in 1982. As the author is Israeli, the book was a big hit in Israel; the story spread from there. A whole tourist industry has built up around it - people want to visit the area where it happened, not just because of the story but primarily because the area is so stunningly beautiful, and due to the diverse flora and fauna. I can see why - after reading the story, you might find yourself drawn to a trip to the area.

The fact that the book has sold over a million copies suggests that it is worth reading. I have to say that there are elements of the story that I found frustrating - but that is due to the characters, their decisions and how they treat each other rather than the way the book is written. For that reason, while I am tempted to rate it as 4 stars, I will leave it at 5.

I did not like some of the characters, and warmed most to the one portrayed the least well. I actually did not like the way the author comes across for various reasons.

The way characters are portrayed is of course entirely in the hands of the author - we only hear his side of the story.

You find yourself incidentally learning about survival techniques, what to do if in that situation - and what not to do.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Well worth a read.
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on 13 July 2014
I really enjoyed reading about Yossi and his travel companions ill advised trip into the jungle which leads to almost total disaster. Maybe I'm sadistic but I really like reading about other people in dire situations where I can keep on thinking "thank goodness that's not happening to ME"

I got annoyed and frustrated with some of his foolhardy decisions and I think he'd be the first to admit he was pretty nasty at times to all of his companions in fact I think they all behaved in a very juvenile manner towards one another.

The book is a little dated and doesn't seem terribly well written but perhaps thats understandable, he is not first and foremost a writer just a backpacker or mochilero as they are called in the book and English is not his native language.

But it reads well and will keep you turning the pages to find out what happens - although I did keep thinking to myself "he's never going to get out of this alive" then thinking "Duh, but he wrote the book, so he must have survived"
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 July 2011
The book opens with Yossi Ghinsberg's `Acknowledgements'. A page and a half of flowery, gushing, quasi-mystical thank yous. This didn't auger well. Yossi Ghinsberg's writing style is pretty basic. I wonder if this is a translation - which might explain his style.

I have read a few accounts of what could be labelled Travel Misadventures, Personal Disasters, or Idiots Taking Silly Risks & Living To Tell The Tale. These include, Touching The Void, Into Thin Air, The Climb, and Into The Wild. For the first two thirds of this book I concluded that "Lost In The Jungle" was not up to the same standard, however I was gripped by the last third of the book and he certainly has an extraordinary tale to tell. At the end of the book he also touches on how his near death experience shaped the rest of his life and I was impressed by what he has gone on to achieve.

Overall I rate this 3/5. It's worth reading and I feel Yossi's tale will stay with me. That said if you've yet to read Touching The Void or Into Thin Air, then I would suggest reading those first as I think they're both more accomplished and interesting books that explore similar themes.
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on 14 September 2015
How accurate was it? I'll never know because much of the book concerns a personal account of the author's lone journey...but whether accurate or not, it was eminently readable and I'd recommend it if for nothing else than the descriptions of a part of the world few have ever ventured to go.
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on 25 February 2014
I found that this book was initially difficult to engage with . The characters ( as they are portrayed here ) weren't particularly likeable and I certainly wasn't in the least bit impressed by their immature, cavalier attitude to exploration and adventure. The thing that I hated most was the seeming glorification and often wanton killing of wildlife and the macho attitude of 'the hunter' that was often graphically portrayed .However...

The book really took off as it progressed into the second half . I would encourage readers to stick with the book because the conclusion ( even considering the fact that some things remained unresolved) is strong ,powerful and quite affecting.
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on 26 June 2014
I was really looking forward to reading this book having read the description. I had never read a survival book before but, having watched Bear Grylls The Island on TV, it had instilled an interest in the subject matter. However, I found the writing style very child-like and dull and some of the things Yossi (the author) spoke about boring and irrelevant. I felt very little empathy towards him and even started to dislike him halfway through the book. When he was finally on his own about two thirds of the book in, I actually wished that he'd be eaten by one of the jaguars he mentioned so frequently! I hated the way he spoke about beautiful animals as "game" and the detail he went into when killing them which I felt was unnecessary. I had no sympathy for him or any of the characters, finding their naivety, arrogance and stupidity irritating. Why would any of them trust a stranger to take them into dangerous jungle? That misplaced trust completely shocked me. Why did they split up? I never really did quite understand that logic. He wails why did it have to happen to him........because he was stupid enough to go into an unforgiving environment with someone he didn't know! He wallows in self-pity but fails to gain my pity for him. Yossi comes across as selfish and lacking in warmth or empathy for others generally despite the occasional fleeting glimpse of compassion. I found myself skipping past boring segments like his fantasies in Brazil and Las Vegas etc - I couldn't really be bothered reading them as I had no liking for him by then so was disinterested in getting to know more about him via his fantasies. I rushed through the last bit of the book just to get to the end of it and discovered that he's written another two books. Needless to say I won't be wasting my time or money on either of them! It's not put me off true survival stories though, but next time I'll try to find a better one!
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