Thursday, February 19, 2009

Top 10: books of South American journeys

Hugh Thomson’s first book, The White Rock, was the result of a twenty-year long quest to explore and understand the Peruvian Andes in the area beyond Machu Picchu. His most recent book, Nanda Devi: A Journey to the Last Sanctuary is about the celebrated Nanda Devi Sanctuary in the Himalaya, on the border between Tibet and India, long closed to all visitors by the Indian government, but briefly re-opened to the outside world for an international expedition of which he was a part.

He also has had a long career as a director and producer of documentaries.

For the Guardian, he named his top ten books of South American journeys.

Number One on his list:
The Motorcycle Diaries, A Journey Around South America by Ernesto Che Guevara

Che leaves his girlfriend, studies and Argentina behind to take off with a fellow medical student, Alberto Granado, on a freewheeling and delightfully irresponsible tour of the continent. With hardly any money, they beg meals off fellow doctors in the countries along their way, most of whom amiably comply. Che admits that the only difference between the clothes they wear at night and during the day is that they take their shoes off in bed. They fall off the bike a great deal, not least because bits kept falling off the bike. The inspiration for Walter Salles's thoughtful film, but with much that was of necessity left out.
Read about another book on Thomson's list.

--Marshal Zeringue