In Patagonia is one of the more interesting books that I've read lately. It's the only book that I know of that crosses thieves with archaeology. It is mainly a collection of Bruce Chatwin's logs and descriptions of his travels in the South American frontier in the late 70's and early 80's (during the Cold War), filled also with short stories and vignettes. Some of them are true, though some mix the facts with fiction. Chatwin leaves these stories hanging and ties most of them back together in the end.
Chatwin tells of the lives of the people in Patagonia with much detail. He goes into much detail describing the poor Welsh, Scottish, English, and Italian farmers. Since farmers make up most of Patagonia's workforce, Chatwin stays with quite a few them and learns about the culture, history, and heritage of Patagonia. Many of the generous people he lodges with were outcasts or exiled from their own country and told him the fascinating stories of their own lives and how they came to be in Patagonia. They also tell the riveting stories of the rich Patagonian borderland, where thieves and criminals run wild. One such pair of criminals was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. They committed all sorts of crimes including larceny and murder (though Butch Cassidy never killed a man until late in his crooked career). After committing many crimes in Utah, they travelled down to South America to avoid the law.
In Patagonia also depicts the captivating history of the Archaeological findings and the many discoveries that have been made in parts of South America. The book starts off with a remenisence of Chatwin playing with his grandmother's "brontosaurus skin". This is what sparked his desire to search the South Americas. The English sailor Charley Milward had found it originally. Then he reported it to a major archaeologist at that time by the name of Florentino Ameghino. In the end, the skin turns out to not be the skin of a brontosaurus, but rather a Mylodon....
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