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Patagonia: At the Bottom of the World By Dick Lutz

Jacket: Paperback
Pages: 231 pages
Publisher: Dimi Press (April 2002)
Genre: Travel and Adventure
ISBN: 0931625386


Review: In a remote and nearly desolate area on the tip of the continent of South America lies a region steeped in history and beauty unrivaled by many places in the world. Patagonia: At the Bottom of the World takes readers on a trip through time and space in a journey that leads the reader from the area's earliest age of recorded exploration through the author's recent visit to this spectacularly scenic region.

In a remote and nearly desolate area on the tip of the continent of South America lies a region steeped in history and beauty unrivaled by many places in the world. Author Dick Lutz, in his book Patagonia: At the Bottom of the World, takes his readers on a trip through time and space in a journey that leads the reader from the area's earliest age of recorded exploration through the author's recent visit to this spectacularly scenic region.

Readers will come to this work looking for information about the region as they plan a travel adventure or they may choose to read the book to quench a need to understand the history and environs of Patagonia. Whatever the reason, readers who pick up Patagonia, will come away from their experience with a greater sense of understanding of this region and, perhaps as this writer does, a desire to see the land itself.

Throughout his book, Dick Lutz weaves a beautiful narrative of this picturesque area from his own experiences, the prose of some of the world's most famous early explorers and the storied history of this rugged land. For those who don't know, it was Magellan who named the region Patagonia during his epic journey to circumnavigate the globe. Setting sail from Spain on September 20, 1519, Magellan and his men encountered hardship, mutinous crew members and sheer adventure. Of the 200 men who set sail on the journey, only eighteen men and one ship were to return. Perhaps the best-known discovery of the journey was the famous waterway The Straits of Magellan. Interestingly enough, it was not Magellan who gave the strait its current name; he called it the strait the Channel of All Saints. Some of his men had other names for this waterway: Victoria Vessel Strait and Patagones Strait were but two of these. Perhaps history itself was the one to name this waterway after the expedition's leader.

One of the expedition's surviving crewmen was the journey's chronicler. Antonio Pigafetta, wrote of the Strait, "We found by a miracle a strait which we call the Strait of the Eleven Thousand Virgins; this strait is a hundred and ten leagues long which are four hundred and forty miles, and almost as wide as less than half a league and it issues into another sear which is called the Peaceful Sea; it is surrounded by very great and high mountains covered with snow . . . I think there is not in the world a more beautiful country, or a better strait than this one."

This book takes the reader through Dick Lutz's journey to Patagonia starting from his experience stepping off the plane at Punta Arenas to his subsequent excursion through this wind-swept and sparsely populated region encompassing the southern tip of the South America. Throughout the work, the author offers us information on the area's environmental facts including the region's wildlife, terrain and climate. There is a fascinating chapter on the history of Patagonia and the experiences of early explorers like Magellan, Sir Francis Drake, Captain Cook, and Charles Darwin. Lutz then segues to an account of the now extinct Patagonian Indians, their patterns of life, lore and legend.

Wrapping up his story, Dick Lutz provides us with an overview of the situation today in this region that spans Chile and Argentina. I particularly enjoyed the appendix that is an excerpt from Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle. The bibliography will also prove useful to those wishing to learn more about this strikingly beautiful and fascinating region.

As Dr. Richard Ryel, CEO of International Expeditions, Inc. states: "Read it and enjoy!"

— Reviewed by: Timothy E. McMahon, M.S.
tim_mcmahon@northeastbookreviews.com

 
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