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In Patagonia
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2009
Somewhere, at some point in time, I read that this book was the definitive travel book. And because I do a lot of travelling, and have thought about going to Patagonia, I figured what the heck. Might as well give this book a try.

First up, this book was definitely not what I expected. This book is more of a collection of anecdotal stories about Bruce Chatwin's trip than anything else. I was expecting to read a story that was strung together through a series of colourful characters, etc. Kind of like City of Falling Angels by John Berendt. That book had a nice flow to it, interesting characters, and a good storyline. In Patagonia on the other hand, had none of this. And for me, this made reading the book kind of difficult.

There was no flow. There were no common characters (besides the author of course) and the writing was difficult to follow. So for these reasons, I did not like this book.

And then, I did like this book because the history that Chatwin passes along in the book about Patagonia is fantastic. You read about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. You learn about the struggles of the Indians. And you get a real feel for the land.

So. What's the final verdict then?

If you're looking for a book giving you the history of Patagonia, give this book a read. If you're looking for a story about Patagonia, then look elsewhere.
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on June 7, 2002
Starting a journey to one of the most mytical places on earth with an objective as vague and mytical as of Chatwin is a great begging for a book. The search for a ancestor place on history and the recount of his whereabouts on Patagonia with people from almost every place on earth is the book shortest description.
The search for an identity, a purpose in life are the main focus of the book. The beatifull description of Patagonia and its people are extraordinary.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2002
In Patagonia is not only a great book, but it is also a great introduction to a brilliant author.
It was Bruce Chatwin's first published book. It recounts Chatwin's wide and varied travels in southern Chile and Argentina, known collectively as 'Patagonia'.
Chatwin's lively, stylish prose records the people and places that he saw on his six month tour of Patagonia. He colourfully describes the history, mythology and literary context of this strange place.
The book introduces the reader to some of Chatwin's most enduring literary themes: such as his fascination with a travelling or 'nomadic' lifestyle and his interest in the exotic and strange;
It sets the stage for later works such as The Viceroy of Ouidah and The Songlines.
My advice: READ IT!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon September 2, 2001
How many children become adults fulfilling a childhood dream by visiting remote places?
Bruce Chatwin, driven by memories of his grandfather's strange artifact, takes us with him to
the farthest reaches of South America. His travels in that mysterious realm result in this
masterfully done account of journeys in Patagonia - southern Argentina and Chile. It's not an
exaggeration to praise this work as the first to supplement Darwin's. Both sought fossils,
although Chatwin's pursuit is rather more specific. Both described the land, the people and
events in the most captivating and readable manner. A rare treasure in travel literature, this
book is a timeless treasure.
Patagonia has been a haven for many European nationalities besides the Spanish. British,
Welsh, Scots and the Germans have found refuge and opportunities here. Chatwin
encounters a wide spectrum of the inhabitants. By touring on foot, bus and horse, as well as
obtaining the occasional lift, he is able to garner intense impressions. Lacing the account of
what he observes with numerous piquant historical side notes, he imparts the place along
with the spirit of the residents. The history varies as the land itself. Rising from the Atlantic
across a vast plain until reaching the rising slopes of the "back" of the Andes, Patagonia offers
incredible vistas and diversity. Decades of building immense rancheros and farms have been
punctuated by social and political upheavals. Chatwin recounts the lives of many of the
rebels and how they impacted the pampas scene. His literary capacity seems as vast as the
territory. We even encounter The Ancient Mariner. There are no dull moments in this book.
Chatwin's presents a more knowledgeable view in discussing aboriginal people than that of
most travel writers. There's nothing patronizing in his tone as he tries to address their plight.
"Tries to" because European intrusion has left so little for researchers of indigenous cultures to
address. He cites the expressive terms in the Yamana language to point out how culturally
inept the colonizing powers have been. We learn to use the term "primitive" with caution.
Millennia of residence gained the original peoples skills the Europeans disparaged, often to
their regret. It's becoming a familiar story, made sadder at the realization the loss of cultures
swept away by colonization.
At the end, his original quest brings him to a cave visited by Charley Milward, wrecked ship's
captain. He cannot replace the artifact Milward left in Chatwin's grandmother's house, but
there is other compensation. That the quest isn't a failure adds further lustre to an incredible
journey. But what Chatwin has gained is as nothing compared to what he's given us. This
book will remain a classic for years to come.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 25, 2001
Chatwin never understood Patagonia, moreover he never liked it. I know this because Chatwin himself said so. Anyway, all the wonderful people who lives there and fight their lives over day after day, don't like Chatwin either. So we are even, although Chatwin passed by, and wonderful Patagonia is for ever.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 2001
I have read and re-read this book many times and find Chatwin's writing both lyrical and staccato in style. His short sharp chapters are rather like dots on a giant dot-to-dot canvas that he never joins up....he's deliberately teasing us by leaving out detail and prompting your own imagination to fill in the blanks on his Patagonian canvas. But the real heart of the book is Chatwin's encounters with both ordinary and extraordinary people who have made the "Southern Most" part of the world their home. I particularly enjoy his use of colors in his description of people and his boyish passion for adventures and heroes. This is not a travel book in the true sense of the genre, however, through each encounter with a new person you can begin to feel for yourself through their own stories the isolation,the landscapes and the adventures waiting for you in this remote part of the world. If you want to understand Chatwin as an artist get hold of a copy of his book of photographs and notebooks and you begin to understand that "In Patogonia" is really a series of 'portraits" hanging in a gallery rather then a travel book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2001
To be perfectly honest I did not read every page of this exraordinarily silly and superficial book. I read the first third and the last third and decided to let the middle section take care of itself. The tiresome, too precious narrative voice flits like a nervous bird over a vast area of South America never lighting long enough anywhere to take a careful look at what there is. Just a few condescending remarks about skin or hair color, shabby clothing, derelict housing, and shameful dentition.
And then on to the next jerk water town for more of the same. The book contains some pseudo-attempts at history but they are so obvious as to be questionable as regards facts; and also a bit of philolgy which is execrable because it is just plain wrong. This book offers, in fact, not a single solid or serious idea.
When I read Nicholas Shakespeare's supremely well written biography of Chatwin I realized I was reading about a person I would not like if I met him. But this should not keep me from enjoying the beauty of his writing. Well, everybody seemed to be saying his writing was beautiful but I fear everybody was wrong. His writing is not beautiful. As English prose it is barely acceptable.
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on November 19, 2000
A relative of mine recommended me this book because I was going to Patagonia. So I bought it to read during my trip.
But it is not exactly a travel book. Well, it does describe a lot of weird details of the region's history, geography and zoology some of which might be kinda funny when you're travelling there.
However, »In Patagonia« is more of a potpourri of human fates. Often it is pretty confusing to hold together the different characters and story-tellers and historical figures. So if you're not prepared for a not-too-easy read, refrain from this book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2000
borrriiiing!!!! My english teacher forced me to read this : (
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on August 19, 2000
The late Bruce Chatwin, a British travel writer, draws the reader into one of the least known, desolate, and brutal lands in the world. The southern end of the Southern Cone (the piece of land that makes up the bottom half of Chile and Argentina). As a child, Chatwin is drawn to Patagonia by the recollection of and fascination with a piece of furry skin his great cousin brought back from the region. A Great Wooley Mammoth or brontosaurus (his grandmother told him when he was a child) which seemed to offer up the entire pre-historic world to him. Through his travel notes and wry observations as well as the historical research, Chatwin gives us a picture of this harsh land which provided refuge for outlaws and bandits (some as famous as Butch Cassidy), and was home to the most bizarre European and American self-imposed refugees. His examination of Darwin's journeys and experiences in Patagonia give the reader a window through which we can begin to understand how the scientific world was thinking at the time. 
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