The Robber of Memories

A River Journey Through Colombia

Michael Jacobs

Published: 1 August 2013
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 256 pages
ISBN: 9781847084088


Running through the heart of Colombia is a river emblematic of the fascination and tragedy of South America, the Magdalena. Considered by some to be the most dangerous place in the world, travellers along the river - for centuries the only route into the vast South American interior - were at the mercy of tropical disease, dangerous animals and precarious barges. A third of the victims of 'la violencia', Colombia's period of civil conflict which began in the 1950s, ended up in its waters. Townships alongside it have experienced some of the worst massacres in South American history.

In 2011, Michael Jacobs travelled its whole length to the river's source high up in Andean moorlands controlled by guerrillas. In spellbinding prose, he charts the dangers he negotiated - including a terrifying three day encounter with the FARC - while uncovering the river's history of pioneering explorations, environmental decline and political violence.

As Jacobs delves into the history of destruction and decay along the river, he also makes a deeply personal exploration into memory and its loss: not far from the river's banks lies a group of townships with the highest incidence of early onset Alzheimer's in the world. Jacobs reflects on the lives of his father, and his mother - sufferers respectively from Alzheimer's and dementia - as he travels upstream towards what comes to seem like a heartland of mystery, magic and darkness.

About the author

Image of Michael Jacobs

Granta Publications is deeply saddened to learn of the death of one of its longstanding and much-loved authors, Michael Jacobs. Michael wrote thoughtful, beautifully written books that explored his interest in Spain, South America, travel, art and history. He was one of the most loyal and friendly of men, and spread his bonhomie widely. He will be much missed by everyone who knew him as well as those who have been touched by his books. Granta Books published two of Michael's books, <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Andes (2010) and <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal">The Robber of Memories (2012), and we very much hope to publish his latest, but unfinished, book <i style="mso-bidi-font-style:normal">Everything is Happening in 2015. Michael Jacobs was born in Italy and studied art history in London and the US. He is the author of several travel books and was shortlisted for the 2004 Thomas Cook Travel Book Prize and the 2013 Dolman Travel Book Award. He lived in Spain and London. He died in January 2014. More about the author

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