Synopses & Reviews
Along The River that Flows Uphill weaves the story of an Amazon journey with science, math and reason to explore the risks that are inherent in adventure travel.
In 2005, Geographical - the official magazine of the Royal Geographical Society in London - commissioned authors Richard Starks and Miriam Murcutt to write an article about a strange river in Venezuela called the Casiquiare. This river - once the source of great controversy until it was explored by Alexander von Humboldt - is like no other, since it joins two, otherwise-separate river systems, the Orinoco and the Amazon, by apparently flowing up and over the watershed that divides them. Rivers are not meant to do that.
For Richard Starks - an award-winning journalist, author and traveler - the writing commission offered a chance to test himself against the standards set by his childhood explorer-heroes - men like Burton, Speke, Livingstone and Stanley. For Miriam Murcutt - a writer, editor and former marketing executive - it represented a chance for adventure.
The two writers hired a boat and a guide to take them 1,000 miles up the Orinoco and along the Casiquiare to the Rio Negro, which flows into the Amazon. They expected to travel only with their guide, but once on board his boat, they found he’d brought along his extended family, as well as a group of researchers that included a young and overly persistent entomologist.
A few days into the journey, the boat took on another passenger - a Yanomami Indian from a primitive tribe that is reputedly among “the most violent people on Earth”. Further up river, FARC guerillas tried to hold the authors for ransom when they strayed over the border into Columbia.
Along the River that Flows Uphill is more than an account of the authors’ journey. It blends their travels with the contentious history and peculiar geography of the Casiquiare. And it examines the society and culture of the Yanomami Indians who live alongside it.
The book is also a story of self-discovery. And it assesses risk - not just the risk that’s part of all adventure travel, but also, by extension, the risk that’s inherent in the adventure of life.
Two writers hire a boat and a guide to uncover a natural phenomena in the Amazon rain forest.
The Casiquiare is unique. There is no other river like it on the planet. Somehow it manages to unite the two river systems of the Orinoco and the Amazon that should, by rights, be entirely separate, and the Casiquiare performs the astonishing feat of flowing up and over the watershed that divides them. Richard Starks and Miriam Murcutt travelled along the Casiquiare at the behest of the Royal Geographical Society-and in the footsteps of exploring greats like Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland-to gather information about the river and the fierce Yanomani tribe that still maintains its austere and primitive lifestyle in the region.
About the Author
Richard Starks is a former journalist, editor and publisher of newsletters and magazines. He has also written for television, and has had five other books published. Miriam Murcutt has worked as a writer, editor and marketing executive in the travel and publishing industries. This is the second book the authors have written together.