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
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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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User Review  - amerynth - LibraryThing

Todd Balf's "The Darkest Jungle" is a wonderful account of the Darien expedition, which marched its away across a section of Panama jungle in the hopes of determining a route for the much hoped for ... Read full review

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User Review  - dickcraig - LibraryThing

Traveled to this area and wanted more from this book. 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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