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A captivating new book from Wade Davis--renowned, award-winning, bestselling author and photographer, and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence for more than a decade-- that brings vividly to life the story of the great Río Magdalena, illuminating Colombia's complex past, present, and future in the process The Magdalena River is the lifeline that runs the length of the A captivating new book from Wade Davis--renowned, award-winning, bestselling author and photographer, and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence for more than a decade-- that brings vividly to life the story of the great Río Magdalena, illuminating Colombia's complex past, present, and future in the process The Magdalena River is the lifeline that runs the length of the nation. For centuries, it allowed Colombians to settle their mountainous, geographically unique region--one of the most challenging on the planet. Colombia's complicated history reflects the beautiful, wild and impossible geography of its largest river: in places, it is placid and calm; in other moments, tortured and unpredictable. A cultural wellspring of music, poetry and literature, in dark times the Magdalena also served as the nation's graveyard. As the country enters a momentous period of revitalization, Wade Davis explores the three major sections of the river, alto, medio, and bajo, evoking each singular landscape and the people he meets there in poetic, nuanced writing, accompanied by his own striking photography. At once an absorbing adventure and an inspiring story of hope and redemption, Magdalena gives us a rare, kaleidoscopic picture of the past and present of a nation often reduced to unfair clichés of drug cartels and violence. Through many years of uncertainty, however, the Magdalena never abandoned its people, always returning as a life-giving force, the source of much of Colombia's wealth--and its dreams. Seamlessly weaving together memoir, history, and a remarkable tale of a nation rising to bring about transformational change, Wade Davis tells the story of this magnificent river with passion and love, and in doing so, tells the epic story of Colombia.


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A captivating new book from Wade Davis--renowned, award-winning, bestselling author and photographer, and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence for more than a decade-- that brings vividly to life the story of the great Río Magdalena, illuminating Colombia's complex past, present, and future in the process The Magdalena River is the lifeline that runs the length of the A captivating new book from Wade Davis--renowned, award-winning, bestselling author and photographer, and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence for more than a decade-- that brings vividly to life the story of the great Río Magdalena, illuminating Colombia's complex past, present, and future in the process The Magdalena River is the lifeline that runs the length of the nation. For centuries, it allowed Colombians to settle their mountainous, geographically unique region--one of the most challenging on the planet. Colombia's complicated history reflects the beautiful, wild and impossible geography of its largest river: in places, it is placid and calm; in other moments, tortured and unpredictable. A cultural wellspring of music, poetry and literature, in dark times the Magdalena also served as the nation's graveyard. As the country enters a momentous period of revitalization, Wade Davis explores the three major sections of the river, alto, medio, and bajo, evoking each singular landscape and the people he meets there in poetic, nuanced writing, accompanied by his own striking photography. At once an absorbing adventure and an inspiring story of hope and redemption, Magdalena gives us a rare, kaleidoscopic picture of the past and present of a nation often reduced to unfair clichés of drug cartels and violence. Through many years of uncertainty, however, the Magdalena never abandoned its people, always returning as a life-giving force, the source of much of Colombia's wealth--and its dreams. Seamlessly weaving together memoir, history, and a remarkable tale of a nation rising to bring about transformational change, Wade Davis tells the story of this magnificent river with passion and love, and in doing so, tells the epic story of Colombia.

30 review for Magdalena: River of Dreams

  1. 4 out of 5

    Esther

    If the option had been there, I would have given this book more than 5 stars. I am not a naturalist and Colombia has never been on my bucket list of travel destinations. Nonetheless, I found this a riveting read. The book was brilliantly researched and wove history, geography and sociology together in a fascinating and highly readable form. I am motivated to read other books by Mr. Davis. Thank you to Goodreads Giveaway for a complimentary copy.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jennie Chantal

    I really enjoyed listening to Wade Davis read the audiobook of Magdalena. His excitement, passion, and love for Colombia, the people, and the natural world are so evident in his voice. I'd been reading a lot of North American history and it was good for me to "go somewhere else" for awhile. I appreciated how he frequently brought to the forefront the stories, history, science, culture, art, power and intelligence of the Indigenous people of Colombia. He is pretty consistently critical of coloniz I really enjoyed listening to Wade Davis read the audiobook of Magdalena. His excitement, passion, and love for Colombia, the people, and the natural world are so evident in his voice. I'd been reading a lot of North American history and it was good for me to "go somewhere else" for awhile. I appreciated how he frequently brought to the forefront the stories, history, science, culture, art, power and intelligence of the Indigenous people of Colombia. He is pretty consistently critical of colonization and imperialism which is so important for white authors and outsiders who write about cultures and countries not their own. Unfortunately, he does not outright name white supremacy. His research is EXPANSIVE and despite jumping around in time and place, it's brought together in a way that makes sense. I found it quite masterful in this way. I was struck by just how much of this book was about men and men's history in Colombia. There was no discussion or even mention (I'm pretty sure) of gender roles (before and after colonization), violence against women, and LGBTQ people. While women were often on the periphery of the story, and there was one chapter that did have a focus on women's issues, it was very much a "let's devote a chapter to women and then get back to the rest of the story". There was also occasional sexist language, and some sudden whorephobia at the end in the brief discussion of Mary of Magdalena. Lastly, in the credits he mentions that without Sandra (who is frequently mentioned in the book as a traveling companion) the book would not have been possible. She did many of the interviews and much of research, the "background" work that he relied on. And this is kind of my point. Throughout the book, all the men he talks about, all their accomplishments and failures, there were women there, often doing the background work that allowed these men to make history. I want more recognition for these women than a note in the acknowledgments, if they even get that. Davis didn't give them this in his book. Nevertheless, I learned SO MUCH and look forward to reading his future work.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Scott Munden

    Reading Magdalena felt like being cornered by a guy who is insistent on showing you his latest holiday snaps. Davis' passion for the Magdalena did not translate to this reader. Well, at least, not in my case. The book also required a good edit in my opinion. Where are all the good editors these days? Davis has written better books.

  4. 5 out of 5

    May

    This was a great book for me to read because I am interested in botany, latin american culture, and writers that take bunny trails! I also appreciated that the author did not gloss over ugly scenes from the past in his retelling but included them as important parts of the story. He also had a hopeful message for future Colombia. Very nice.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Juan Farfán

    I will only say this, when I finished it I had tears in my eyes, so proud of being a Colombian

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jayme

    This is an epic and sprawling history of Colombia covering everything from culture to conservation to politics, told through the lens of the Rio Magdalena. I was so impressed with the effort and skill that went into writing this history. Davis' descriptions of the Magdalena and Colombia range from haunting to touching, or both at once. "In the late 1980s and early 1990s, corpses were as common as driftwood. The paramilitaries...threatened anyone who interfered with the dead." In the chapter "The This is an epic and sprawling history of Colombia covering everything from culture to conservation to politics, told through the lens of the Rio Magdalena. I was so impressed with the effort and skill that went into writing this history. Davis' descriptions of the Magdalena and Colombia range from haunting to touching, or both at once. "In the late 1980s and early 1990s, corpses were as common as driftwood. The paramilitaries...threatened anyone who interfered with the dead." In the chapter "The Nameless Dead", Davis tells the grusome and defiant tale of Colombians' salvaging, burial, and adoption of the No Nombrado. But despite Colombia's complex and often dark history, Davis' love of the country is evident in his depictions of its beauty and culture, such as the musical traditions of tambora described in "Land of a Thousand Rhythms". And of course, we couldn't talk about Colombia without including Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The chapter "The General and His Labyrinth" perfectly fit Marquez' writings into the context of Colombia's history (not to mention making me want to pick up The General and His Labyrinth and do a reread of Love in the Time of Cholera). On a final, dorkier note, I loved that Davis wrote a "Bibliographical Essay" to end the book rather than a list of citations. Yes! Linked reads - fiction: - Love in the Time of Cholera - The General in His Labyrinth Linked reads - non-fiction: - Living to Tell the Tale - One River - Bolívar: American Liberator - Between the Guerrillas and the State: The Cocalero Movement, Citizenship, and Identity in the Colombian Amazon - Snowfields: The War on Cocaine in the Andes - Death Beat: A Colombian Journalist's Life Inside the Cocaine Wars - My Colombian War: A Journey Through the Country I Left Behind - The Robber of Memories: A River Journey Through Colombia - Snowblind - The Hold Life Has: Coca and Cultural Identity in an Andean Community - The Making of Modern Colombia: A Nation in Spite of Itself - The Colombia Reader: History, Culture, Politics - Colombia: A Concise Contemporary History

  7. 5 out of 5

    John Benson

    We lived in Medellin, Colombia in the late 1980s, some of Colombia's darkest times. This book however brought back so many memories of places we had visited and to times I had visited the Magdalena River. Within the first month of our arrival, we had taken at trip to see Pablo Escobar's Hacienda Napoles near the Magdalena River town of Puerto Triunfo. I remember being amazed how Gabriel Garcia Marquez had captured the feel for one of these towns in his book LEAF STORM. During our last month in C We lived in Medellin, Colombia in the late 1980s, some of Colombia's darkest times. This book however brought back so many memories of places we had visited and to times I had visited the Magdalena River. Within the first month of our arrival, we had taken at trip to see Pablo Escobar's Hacienda Napoles near the Magdalena River town of Puerto Triunfo. I remember being amazed how Gabriel Garcia Marquez had captured the feel for one of these towns in his book LEAF STORM. During our last month in Colombia, my friend John Ireland and I took motor boat taxis through the Magdalena Medio area up to Barrancabarmeja, a scary oil town, and on to the beautiful forgotten town of Mompos. It was a trip that remained in our memories long after that trip. John died a few years ago, but his children knew the story of that trip well. Wade Davis was made an honorary Colombian citizen a few years and his love for the country shows up fully in this book. He begins in the mountains near the town of San Agustin, where the river begins and follows it all the way to the Caribbean coast. He never downplays the violence of the country and its harsh history, but he also brings out so much of his love for its geography, environment, the music, and most importantly the people. He moves down the river sharing the stories of different people's lives. I especially liked his chapter on Medellin, that contrasted what it was like in the 1980s when we lived there with how much it has changed for the better now. Davis has written a wonderful book that shows us the full panorama of life in Colombia.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Blair

    I quite enjoyed this book. Magdalena, River of Dreams, is mostly a compilation of stories that the author gathered while travelling northward, with various Colombians, along the length of the Magdalena River. Many of Wade Davis' companions are experts in their respected fields - naturalists, historians, and musicians - and I found the the author excelled at bringing their stories together to tell and interesting and comprehensive narrative of this famous river. Before reading this book, my knowle I quite enjoyed this book. Magdalena, River of Dreams, is mostly a compilation of stories that the author gathered while travelling northward, with various Colombians, along the length of the Magdalena River. Many of Wade Davis' companions are experts in their respected fields - naturalists, historians, and musicians - and I found the the author excelled at bringing their stories together to tell and interesting and comprehensive narrative of this famous river. Before reading this book, my knowledge of Colombia was quite limited. A large part of this is because Colombia was a war zone for much of my adult life. This constrained my interest as I could not visit. I also concentrated on other regions of the world, and particularly Asia, so I left South America neglected. But with this book, Wade Davis has interested me in learning more about this great river, ecosystems and country.- and perhaps even travelling along the Magdalena. For that reason alone I recommend this book. It has the potential to open your eyes!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Peggy K.

    Magnificent! Read my full review posted at BookBrowse: https://www.bookbrowse.com/mag/review... Magnificent! Read my full review posted at BookBrowse: https://www.bookbrowse.com/mag/review...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Taylor

    Lovely!

  11. 5 out of 5

    David Moore

  12. 4 out of 5

    Randy L. Smith

  13. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Defler

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hernando

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chad

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Alton

  17. 4 out of 5

    Phoebe

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  19. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Grothaus

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rick Meier

  21. 5 out of 5

    Carl Graham

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

  23. 4 out of 5

    Antonio Nunez

  24. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Westöö

  25. 5 out of 5

    Micah Grossman

  26. 4 out of 5

    René Cintrón

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Nicholson

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  30. 4 out of 5

    Basho

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