Monday, September 19, 2011


After many years as an editor at National Geographic Adventure magazine, Mark Adams decided that he had had enough of sending other writers off to the far reaches of the globe in search of riveting stories from the world’s most inaccessible places.  As the hundredth anniversary of Hiram Bingham’s discovery of Machu Picchu loomed, Adams, married to a Peruvian woman and long fascinated with Bingham (thought by many to be the inspiration for Indiana Jones), decided that this was the assignment to get himself out of his New York office.
And so, with limited outdoors experience (Adams hadn’t been in a tent in he couldn’t remember how long), the author set off to follow in the footsteps of the famous explorer through the jungles of South America.  Through a fine balance of humor, thorough research, a well structured narrative, and lively prose, the reader is ushered along on a journey through three eras of history-the age of the Inca, the age of Hiram Bingham, and the age of Mark Adams.  Many authors in a memoir of this sort inject far too much of themselves into the narrative.  Adams uses his experience to provide comic relief but leaves the focus on Bingham and the Incan history which he strove to unearth in the jungles of Peru. Hiram Bingham’s own pursuit to answer questions pertaining to the Inca which remained unexplored or unanswered in his own day, in part for his own scholarly knowledge, and in part his desire to build his own legacy, was well laid out by Mark Adams.  Throughout this exploration of Bingham’s quest the reader is carried along through three time phases simultaneously.
Not being one for jungles (Snakes?  I think not!), I was happy to follow along from the comfort and relative safety of my own corner of the globe-yes, we have bears here in the Last Frontier, but at least I can see the threat coming!  Mark Adams’ prose is so vivid, the reader will feel transported.  I highly recommend this one for its history, adventure, and verve.

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