Wild Coast by John Gimlette

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Synopsis

Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana are among the least-known places in South America: nine hundred miles of muddy coastline giving way to a forest so dense that even today there are virtually no roads through it; a string of rickety coastal towns situated between the mouths of the Orinoco and Amazon Rivers, where living is so difficult that as many Guianese live abroad as in their homelands; an interior of watery, green anarchy where border disputes are often based on ancient Elizabethan maps, where flora and fauna are still being discovered, where thousands of rivers remain mostly impassable. And under the lens of John Gimlette—brilliantly offbeat, irreverent, and canny—these three small countries are among the most wildly intriguing places on earth.

On an expedition that will last three months, he takes us deep into a remarkable world of swamp and jungle, from the hideouts of runaway slaves to the vegetation-strangled remnants of penal colonies and forts, from “Little Paris” to a settlement built around a satellite launch pad. He recounts the complicated, often surprisingly bloody, history of the region—including the infamous 1978 cult suicide at Jonestown—and introduces us to its inhabitants: from the world’s largest ants to fluorescent purple frogs to head-crushing jaguars; from indigenous tribes who still live by sorcery to descendants of African slaves, Dutch conquerors, Hmong refugees, Irish adventurers, and Scottish outlaws; from high-tech pirates to hapless pioneers for whom this stunning, strangely beautiful world (“a sort of X-rated Garden of Eden”) has become home by choice or by force.

In Wild Coast, John Gimlette guides us through a fabulously entertaining, eye-opening—and sometimes jaw-dropping—journey.
 

About John Gimlette

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John Gimlette has won the Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize and the Wanderlust Travel Writing Award, and he contributes regularly to The Times (London), The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, and Condé Nast Traveller. When not traveling, he practices law in London.
 
Published June 21, 2011 by Vintage. 368 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Travel, Action & Adventure, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Wild Coast

Kirkus Reviews

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A wonderfully entertaining account of a journey through one of the world's least-known places.

Jun 10 2011 | Read Full Review of Wild Coast

The New York Times

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Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, a tangled green knot of jungle, rock and savannah, are vividly described in this travelogue.

Jul 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Wild Coast

The Guardian

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Armed with a rucksack and a keen sense of the absurd, Gimlette drives, flies and floats through Guyana (formerly British Guiana), Suriname (formerly Dutch Guiana) and French Guiana (or Guyane Française, and still very much French).

Mar 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Wild Coast

Publishers Weekly

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Travel writer Gimlette offers a rare glimpse of a forgotten region: the formerly European colonies of Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana, commonly known as the Guianas. As he describes his travels fr

Jul 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Wild Coast

The Wall Street Journal

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On almost every page of John Gimlette's "Wild Coast," I grappled with a single question.

Jun 25 2011 | Read Full Review of Wild Coast

Curious Book Fans

Gimlette visited all three of the Guianas (the name means ‘The land of many waters’): Suriname (formerly Dutch Guiana), Guyana (which was formerly British Guiana) and French Guyana which is still a ‘departmente’ of France rather than an independent country.

Apr 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Wild Coast

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