Lost in the Amazon: The True Story Of Five Men And Their Desperate Battle for Survival

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9781598590234: Lost in the Amazon: The True Story Of Five Men And Their Desperate Battle for Survival

In 1995, Stephen Kirkpatrick joined a five-man expedition into the remote jungles of the Peruvian Amazon. Kirkpatrick's assignment was to document an area of the rainforest that had never before been photographed, nor by most accounts, ever explored by white men.

Within hours of their departure, an inaccurate map and a series of bad decisions leave the group hopelessly lost in the depths of the Amazon jungle. What began as a career-making photo expedition quickly turned into a desperate struggle for survival.

The five men battle poisonous reptiles, hungry bugs, torrential rains, brutal heat, and an unforgiving landscape in an attempt to find their way back to civilization. They soon learn that survival is not only a physical, but a mental and spiritual challenge as well.

Lost in the Amazon is a gripping, sometimes humorous, and ultimately inspirational story about the human drive to survive, and about clinging to faith in the worst circumstances imaginable.

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Lost is a resonant title for this direct, intense, true adventure story. Stephen Kirkpatrick is lost in his attempt to maintain closeness and trust in his post-divorce relationship with his three sons. Lost as an ex-husband in the painful aftermath of that broken marriage, and finally in a literal form, a photographer lost deep in the Amazon, who can only count one remaining possession -- his faith. What is faith, really, when everything else is gone? Is it a solace and anchor, sustaining hope? Stephen Kirkpatrick's story provides a case study for just that sort of faith. Not particularly liturgical, doctrinal or objective; it's an experiential faith that wavers, struggles and is almost lost completely at times, but like Kirkpatrick himself, it somehow holds on.

Kirkpatrick works freelance -- and one gets the impression that the world of freelance photography is as brutal and unforgiving as the jungle he plunges into. To sustain a career where there are no steady paychecks or benefit plans, it's necessary to keep going for the prize -- unique images, perhaps ones of wildlife never seen before. His spirit may be sustained by a higher faith, but the fulfillment of Kirkpatrick's earthly hopes would be more tangible -- a National Geographic cover. This need to find good material is so paramount it pushes Kirkpatrick's expedition to start out with questionable maps (a fact realized of course, only in retrospect), and with only a general idea of the route that will lead them to the planned pick-up point.

As things go wrong, and then very wrong, and eventually get worse, we see that Kirkpatrick takes the idea of journaling-as-therapy to heart. At one point he journals "I still have faith. I'm praying and putting my trust in God. But I have to be realistic. Christians die just like everyone else." This is essentially Kirkpatrick's central meditation -- the realization that faith is what sustains him, but always with the understanding that it gives no guarantee as to the outcome of the journey.--Ed Dobeas

About the Author:

Stephen Kirkpatrick has been chased by grizzly bears, attacked by alligators, and nibbled by piranha. In the process, he's published more than 2,500 of the world's most beautiful and exciting nature and wildlife photography. He lives in Mississippi with his wife and award-winning co-author, Marlo Kirkpatrick, and his two sons Sean (21) and Ian (14).

Marlo Carter Kirkpatrick has won more than 100 local, regional, and national awards for creative excellence. Marlo and her husband, Stephen, fell in love on an expedition to the jungles of the Peruvian Amazon, and returned to Peru in 1998 for their wedding ceremony at Machu Picchu. The Kirkpatricks have since made several return trips to the rain forest.

The Kirkpatricks’ work has taken them to destinations throughout North, Central, and South America. Their current projects focus on tropical locations and underwater photography.

The Kirkpatricks are frequently accompanied on their travels by Stephen’s sons, Sean and Ian; the couple’s dogs, Frosty, Icy, and Flurry; and Buster, the family cat.

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