Life and Death in the Andes: On the Trail of Bandits, Heroes, and Revolutionaries

MacQuarrie, Kim

Published by Tantor Audio
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Synopsis: The Andes Mountains are the world's longest mountain chain, linking most of the countries in South America. Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and author Kim MacQuarrie takes us on a historical journey through this unique region, bringing fresh insight and contemporary connections to such fabled characters as Charles Darwin, Pablo Escobar, Che Guevara, and many others. He introduces us to a Patagonian woman who is the last living speaker of her language, as he explores the disappearance and sometimes surprising resiliency of indigenous cultures throughout the Andes. He meets a man whose grandfather witnessed Butch Cassidy's last days in Bolivia, tracks down the ballet dancer who once hid the leader of the brutal Shining Path in her home, and hears a harrowing story from the school teacher who gave Che Guevara his final meal.

Through the stories he shares, MacQuarrie raises such questions as, where did the people of South America come from? Did they create or import their cultures? What makes South America different from other continents--and what makes the cultures of the Andes different from other cultures in South America? Why did Peru's Shining Path leader Guzman nearly succeed in his revolutionary quest while Che Guevara in Bolivia so quickly failed? And what so astounded Charles Darwin in South America that led him to conceive the theory of evolution? Deeply observed and beautifully written, Life and Death in the Andes shows us this land as no one has before.

From the Inside Flap: The Andes Mountains are the world's longest mountain chain, running for 4,300 miles along the length of South America, from Colombia to Tierra del Fuego. For thousands of years they have been the setting for spectacular, dramatic, and often bloody events, even as they have given birth to some of the world's great civilizations. In this enthralling blend of history, travel, and adventure, Kim MacQuarrie takes readers on a fascinating journey that explores some of the most remarkable and enigmatic stories - from the ancient Incas to the recent cocaine kings - that have taken place along the mountain chain.
Why did the Incas, for example--who created the largest empire ever to have existed in the Americas--sacrifice children on the Andes' highest peaks?  What secrets do these "Ice Mummies," many of whom have remained frozen and perfectly preserved for half a millennium, reveal? On Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, MacQuarrie visits natives who have lived for centuries on strange "floating islands" of reeds and who fashion giant reed boats. Did similar boats once transport people from the Andes to the islands of Polynesia, thousands of miles away?
 
The Andes also gave birth to the coca plant, whose narcotic ingredients launched the careers of cocaine kings such as Pablo Escobar. MacQuarrie investigates Escobar's amazing rags-to-riches story as well as the link between Escobar and the myth of El Dorado, the native king who once anointed himself daily with gold.  
The rugged Central Andes, meanwhile, is where the continent's bloodiest guerrilla movement, the Shining Path, erupted. In Peru, MacQuarrie tracks down the unsung police detective who secretly unraveled the Shining Path's plans just as they were about to seize power. MacQuarrie investigates as well the question of why Che Guevara thought he could initiate a revolution with only a tiny cadre of seasoned guerrillas in one of the remotest areas of the Bolivian Andes. And how was it that the bank robbers Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid got trapped in their own final shootout, not far from where Che died? Finally, what clues did Charles Darwin discover in the Andes that would help him to conceive of the theory of evolution--and what secrets did these same mountains reveal that would lead Hiram Bingham to discover Machu Picchu?
Kim MacQuarrie investigated these stories and more while on his own epic journey down the length of the Andes, brilliantly illuminating the captivating and remarkable history of South America's most majestic chain of mountains.
Kim MacQuarrie is a writer, a four-time Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker, and an anthropologist. Educated in France, the U.S. and Peru, MacQuarrie is the author of four books on Peru and lived in that country for five years. During that time, MacQuarrie lived with a recently contacted tribe of indigenous Amazonians called the Yora. It was MacQuarrie's experience filming a nearby group of indigenous people whose ancestors still remembered their contacts with the Inca Empire that led him to write his previous book, The Last Days of the Incas, the story of how 168 Spanish soldiers conquered an empire of ten million people. Visit the author at KimMacQuarrie.com

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Title: Life and Death in the Andes: On the Trail of...
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Binding: MP3 CD
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