Running The Amazon

by Joe Kane

Paper Book, 1989



Call number




Alfred A. Knopf (1989), Edition: 1st, 277 pages


The voyage began in the lunar terrain of the Peruvian Andes, where coca leaf is the only remedy against altitude sickness. It continued down rapids so fierce they could swallow a raft in a split second. It ended six months and 4,200 miles later, where the Amazon runs gently into the Atlantic. Joe Kane's personal account of the first expedition to travel the entirety of the world's longest river is a riveting adventure in the tradition of Joseph Conrad, filled with death-defying encounters: with narco-traffickers and Sendero Luminoso guerrillas and nature at its most unforgiving. Not least of all, Running the Amazon shows a polyglot group of urbanized travelers confronting their wilder selves -- their fear and egotism, selflessness and courage.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member kinsey_m
I closed the book with the feeling of having travelled alonside Kane on the Amazon. I don't usually read real adventure books, and I had only had this feeling before(of having actually done the same travel as the characters/writer) while reading the Lord of the Rings.

A great book.
LibraryThing member Stbalbach
Adventure literature classic. National Geographic ranked it #57 in its top 100 Adventure Books of all-time. Outdoor Magazine included it in its top-25 list of best outdoor books for the last 100-years.

A team of nine, mostly strangers, attempts to be the first to traverse the Amazon river--from its
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source in Peru down to the Atlantic--the longest river in the world. Joe Kane is invited as a journalist to document the journey, but who has no boating or adventure experience. Crisis among the team leadership leads to a breakdown and in the end things don't turn out as expected. Reads like a novel.

The question is, why among the thousands of adventure and outdoor books is this one ranked so highly. I believe for a number of reasons: for one it is extremely well-written, Kane is a professional journalist who has written articles in The New Yorker, National Geographic and the like. But unlike most outdoor books written by journalists, Kane is also an active participant, indeed in the end he is one of the few to actually make it all the way. The journey was indeed epic in scope, comparable to traveling the length of the Nile, the holy grail for 19th C explorers. It contains a love story. Narco-trafficing and Shining Path guerrilla's. Multiple-near-death experiences from man and nature. All these things combine to make it a classic of the genre.
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LibraryThing member Zmrzlina
This is one of the first travel narratives I ever read and I have no idea what it was that attracted me to the book. I have no desire to go screaming down a raging river in a thin boat, nor do I have a particular interest in this part of the world (well, no more than I have in any part of the world
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which is to say I would love to visit most anywhere, but there are some places I want to visit lots more). Anyway...I am glad for whatever it was that drew me to this book more than 15 years ago, because it is first a great read and second opened a whole new genre
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LibraryThing member IslandDave
An insane challenge issued, the author accepts an offer to join a kayaking expedition that was determined to be the first to travel the entire distance from the source of the Amazon River high in the Peruvian Andes all the way to Belem, Brazil and the Atlantic Ocean. Kane, the author, was to be the
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team's documentarian, with an invitation to write up an account of the voyage for publication. He discovers early that this oddly-assembled, multinational group of men and one woman would struggle on the trip, leaving only four of the original team to complete the journey. Instead of observing and logging from the sidelines, Kane becomes an integral part of the team, first as a key member of one of the white water rafts used early on the rivers, and later, as one of two men to complete the trip in kayaks.

Kane's writing is excellent, his narrative very easily read, and the story of their struggles, their interaction with both welcoming and dangerous native populations, and Kane's own soul searching, which included two episodes where he was certain on leaving the expedition only to be drawn back into the quest, made this book tough to put down. My only major complaint is the way the book ends, literally with the first indication that the kayakers had hit the Atlantic, salt water. There is no follow up, no reconcilation of the emotions and struggles, no 'where are they now' sort of summary, just a dead stop once the kayakers had reached their goal. This is sort of a natural end which Kane sets up throughout, but a short epilogue would have been a nice addition to wrap up the narrative. That said, Running was an excellent adventure expedition book that went way beyond kayaking a river. Four stars.
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LibraryThing member Iudita
This was a real modern day adventure story that focused primarily on the action instead of the planning, finances and politics that some adventure novels get bogged down with. The author also teaches you a bit about the different regions they travel through on their trip down the Amazon and you
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will definately finish the novel more informed than you were when you started it.
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Original language



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