5 gripping real-life adventure stories
Five paperbacks that will make excellent summer reading.
If you have a yen for real-life adventure stories, here are five paperbacks you want to be sure to slip into your vacation bag this summer.Skip to next paragraph
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1. The River of Doubt, by Candice Millard (Anchor, 432 pp., $15). In 1912, after a humiliating defeat in his third presidential bid, Theodore Roosevelt tried to distract himself with a foolhardy trip down an unmarked Brazilian river. This stranger-than-fiction tale, heightened by “the uncanny silence of the rain forest,” is the kind of story readers may “feel compelled to devour in a single sitting.” (CSM review 10/11/05)
2. Down the Nile, by Rosemary Mahoney (Back Bay Books, 304 pp., $14.99). Author and adventurer Rosemary Mahoney’s plan to “buy a small Egyptian rowboat and row myself” – a lone female – “along the 120-mile stretch of river between the cities of Aswan and Qena” may sound ill-advised, but Mahoney’s “quicksilver intelligence ... sharp eyes ... and slightly astringent voice” make her an excellent narrator and a worthy travel companion. (CSM review 8/28/07)
3. Manhunt, by James L. Swanson (Harper Perennial, 496 pp., $15.95). James L. Swanson’s tale of the 12-day search for Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, through the swamps of Maryland and Virginia “rivets because of its pacing – and because its shifting scenes and characters are juggled with sure hands.” (CSM review 2/17/06)
4. The Lost City of Z, by David Grann (Vintage, 448 pp., $15.95). The year was 1925, and the press was rabid with anticipation: strapping British explorer Col. Percy Harrison Fawcett plunged into the Amazon in search of a golden treasure city known only as Z. But Fawcett and his party never returned. This “gripping” book “toggles between a biographic portrait of the near-mythic figure of Fawcett and [Grann’s] own modern-day attempt to reconstruct the ill-fated expedition.” (CSM review 2/25/09)
5. The Places In Between, by Rory Stewart (Mariner Books, 297 pp., $14.95). Scottish diplomat and scholar Rory Stewart walked across Afghanistan in the winter of 2002. He was alone for much of the time, although the company of a large dog is one of the many pleasures of this “[i]ntelligent, engaging, and uplifting” account. (CSM reader recommendation 5/29/08)
Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.