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Review: Author dishes up history, adventure and humor in 'Turn Right at Machu Picchu'
"Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time" (Dutton), by Mark Adams: Mark Adams' decision to finally seek adventure has paid off big-time for readers in "Turn Right at Machu Picchu," a book that combines history, travel and adventure.
Adams, an editor for several adventure and travel magazines, realized at age 40 that he had spent a lot of time on other people's adventures but had experienced none of his own. What better way to start than by investigating allegations that Hiram Bingham III may not have discovered the Incan city of Machu Picchu?
A lofty ambition for a man who last slept outdoors when he was 7 years old in a toy teepee that his father set up in their backyard.
Fortunately, Adams was up to the challenge ' although he sometimes doubted it ' as he followed Bingham's path through climbs that were both taxing and sometimes dangerous.
With the help of John Leivers, an Australian explorer who is an expert on the Inca sites in the Andes, and a crew of coca leaf-chewing mule tenders and a cook, Adams retraced the route that Bingham, a professional explorer who helped inspire the film character Indiana Jones, traveled on his way to his stunning discoveries. Quite a challenge, since "by journey's end, Bingham's group had traveled nearly one thousand miles in 115 days."
On his trek, Adams wound his way through the mountains of Peru, discovering wild country with breathtaking views and stunning ruins, and meeting interesting people long before he makes it to Machu Picchu.
Adams details the fascinating story of Bingham, one of the ambitious explorers of the early 20th century, whose lust for fame was fulfilled in 1911 when he discovered not just one, but three amazing archaeological sites.
He adds in information on Peru and modern-day tourism at the famous site; the history of the Incas; the history and geography of Machu Picchu and other Incan ruins; and details the age of the great explorers.
And he makes plenty of his own discoveries along the way.
All of this is done with a liberal helping of humor, and it adds up to a story that hooks readers early and then sails along so interestingly that it's one of those "can't put it down" books.
What more could armchair adventurers want?