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Titles similar to Magdalena
Rivers are the planet’s veins and arteries, and the life blood of human civilizations. Intrepid anthropologist and award-winning and entrancing writer Davis, a former Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society, portrays the Amazon in One River (1996), and travels the Colorado River in River Notes (2012). In this deeply inquisitive, dazzlingly fluent scientific, cultural, and spiritual investigation, Davis illuminates the natural and human history of Río Magdalena, “the Mississippi River of Colombia.” This far-reaching, centuries-encompassing river biography is shaped by Davis’ love for Colombia, which enabled him “to imagine and dream” as a 14-year-old Canadian on a school trip in 1968. Davis has extensively explored this wondrous “home to the greatest ecological and geographical diversity on the planet,” but Colombia is not known for its natural splendor, but rather for catastrophic civil wars, shocking atrocities, brutal drug cartels, and incalculable suffering and loss. Fifty years of terror which echo the genocidal invasion of the Spanish, and which turned the Magdalena into a river of death.
Always with a discerning eye to the symbolic and metaphorical, Davis tells the river’s saga of fecundity and horror through the lives of remarkable individuals past and present. Among the former are José Celestino Mutis, the “patriarch of American botany,” and the “revolutionary hero,” Francisco José de Caldas, both of whom worked with naturalist and geographer Alexander von Humboldt, during his Colombian sojourns. Among the people Davis met along the river are resilient Juan Guillermo, who survived guerilla violence to create a nature preserve, and Jenny Castañeda, who courageously carries on work that cost her mother, the “fiery social activist” Damaris Mejía, her life. Throughout Davis emphasizes Colombia’s many Indigenous peoples and their abiding belief that protecting the river is a sacred duty. The story of Magdalena, as for every river, is that of an epic struggle between the sacred and the profane, between worship and preservation and reckless exploitation and wanton abuse.
More river histories:
The Hudson: America’s River. By Frances F. Dunwell.
Meander: East to West, Indirectly, along a Turkish River. By Jeremy Seal.
The Nile: A Journey Downriver through Egypt’s Past and Present. By Toby Wilkinson.
Nine Ways to Cross a River. By Akiko Busch.
Old Man River: The Mississippi River in North American History. By Paul Schneider.
On the Ganges: Encounters with Saints and Sinners along India’s Mythic River. By George Black.
River in Ruin: The Story of the Carmel River. By Ray A. March.
River Republic: The Fall and Rise of America’s Rivers. By Daniel McCool.
Rivers of Power: How a Natural Force Raised Kingdoms, Destroyed Civilizations, and Shapes Our World. By Laurence C. Smith.
The Robber of Memories: A River Journey through Colombia. By Michael Jacobs.
Running Dry: A Journey from Source to Sea down the Colorado River. By Jonathan Waterman.
The Source: How Rivers Made America and America Remade Its Rivers. By Martin Doyle.
Where the Water Goes: Life and Death along the Colorado River. By David Owen.
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