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In Patagonia (1977)
by Bruce Chatwin
260 pages
Vintage Classics

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Englishman Bruce Chatwin spends months travelling, mostly on foot, through Patagonia, the sparsely populated and half-wild southern peninsula of South America which is divided between Argentina and Chile.  One of the products of that journey is this book, which is very episodic, and details the people Chatwin meets, the things he sees, and also contains portions of history, such as stories of the conflicts between native Indians and settlers, or speculations about the eventual fate of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Maybe one of the most notable parts of this book is that, after it sold well and became widely known, many people in it disputed its contents. Chatwin never denied that he changed things up to sound better, so as long as you don’t expect it to be full of absolute truth, it’s a pretty interesting read. The last third of the book concerns Chatwin’s stories about one of his relatives who did a lot of seafaring and settled in Patagonia – I think this part holds less interest for to the general reader.

Overall I’d say it was an okay read.  You don’t need to have any particular interest in the region in order to enjoy the book, but I wouldn’t say that reading it made me especially more motivated to visit this corner of the world.

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