The Darkest Jungle: The True Story of the Darién Expedition and America's Ill-fated Race to Connect the Seas

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Crown Publishers, 2003 - History - 331 pages
14 Reviews
In 1854, Leiutenant Isaac G Strain, an ambitious American explorer and U S Naval officer, was given command of Cyane, the first ship to voyage to the Darien Gap. Strain was a natural born leader, a wild-haired, wiry-strong frontiersman who had travelled extensively throughout the Southern Hemisphere. Greatly admired, Strain was expected to successfully cross the ithsmus of Central America through the Darien Gap. However, the expedition would prove to be perilous. Armed with fraudulent information about the areas rugged terrain, phony maps and only a small supply of food, Strain and his team of 29 men ventured far from their ship and became lost in this mountainous, steep-banked jungle, full of unfriendly natives that attacked the party. Beaten down by intense heat and days of walking, some of Strain's men contracted lurid mystery diseases, while others, despite the lush vegetation, were slowly starving to death. The situation was grim and Strain beleived that their best bet for survival was for him to force his way down river in search of help. When he did not return after 21 days, the detachment decided to back track and left Strain for dead. But Strain made it back to his men with help, though nine had perished and the rest were delirious. He managed to lead his enfeebled party nearly 200 miles to safety.

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Review: The Darkest Jungle: The True Story of the Darien Expedition and America's Ill-Fated Race to Connect the Seas

User Review  - Brian - Goodreads

Great subject matter about a time and place when men were courageous and selfless and noble and gutsy. My guess is that the editor loused Balf's book up. When reading DJ, there are plenty of moments ... Read full review

Review: The Darkest Jungle: The True Story of the Darien Expedition and America's Ill-Fated Race to Connect the Seas

User Review  - Robert Melnyk - Goodreads

Pretty interesting book about the exploration of the Darien area in search for a route to build a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. I learned quite a bit about the history of the ... Read full review


The SEA and the JUNGLE

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About the author (2003)

TODD BALF, the author of The Last River and a former senior editor for Outside, is a contributing editor to Men’s Journal. He first traveled to Panama’s Darién in 1991—a memorably flawed crossing in which he and his companions traveled by foot, burro, and dugout canoe yet managed to see neither the Pacific nor the Atlantic.

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