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Download The Darkest Jungle: The True Story of the Darien Expedition Audiobook (Unabridged)

Extended Audio Sample The Darkest Jungle: The True Story of the Darien Expedition (Unabridged) Audiobook, by Todd Balf
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (123 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Todd Balf Narrator: Scott Brick Publisher: Books on Tape Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2004 ISBN:
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The Darkest Jungle tells the harrowing story of America's first ship canal exploration across a narrow piece of land in Central America called the Darien, a place that loomed large in the minds of the world's most courageous adventurers in the nineteenth century. With rival warships and explorers from England and France days behind, the 27-member U.S. Darien Exploring Expedition landed on the Atlantic shore at Caledonia Bay in eastern Panama to begin their mad dash up the coast-hugging mountains of the Darien wilderness. The whole world watched as this party attempted to be the first to traverse the 40-mile isthmus, the narrowest spot between the Atlantic and Pacific in all the Americas.

Leading them was the charismatic commander Isaac Strain, an adventuring 33-year-old U.S. Navy lieutenant. The party could have turned back except, said Strain, they were to a man revolted at the idea of failing at a task they seemed destined to accomplish. Yet Strain's party would wander lost in the jungle for another sixty nightmarish days, following a tortuously contorted and uncharted tropical river. Their guns rusted in the damp heat, expected settlements never materialized, and the lush terrain provided little to no sustenance. As the unending march dragged on, the party was beset by flesh-embedding parasites and a range of infectious tropical diseases they had no antidote for (or understanding of). In the desperate final days, in the throes of starvation, the survivors flirted with cannibalism and the sickest men had to be left behind so, as the journal keeper painfully recorded, the rest might have a chance to live.

Based on the vividly detailed log entries of Strain and his officers, other period sources, and Balf's own treks in the Darien Gap, this is a rich and utterly compelling historical narrative that will thrill readers who enjoyed In the Heart of the Sea, Isaac's Storm, and other sagas of adventure at the limits of human endurance.

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Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Summerglo | 1/7/2013

    " So much information that it was a little hard to follow. Enjoyed reading about the earliest expeditions to find the route between the two oceans. Basic navagational skills and much hardship for these early explorers. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kim | 8/27/2012

    " I was surprised that this wasn't more interesting. Seems like just the kind of adventure story I'd love but I never really connected with the characters in this one. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Darrick | 2/28/2012

    " This just bored me to death. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Susan | 2/26/2012

    " Exploration of the Panamanian jungle. Not as exciting as some exploration books--a lot of setbacks for this group who started their explorations with a lot of faulty information. Interesting story, but it moves slowly. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Joshpenn | 11/23/2011

    " A great example of what not to do, if you're ever looking for a good time in central America towards the former half of the 20th century. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alyce | 11/21/2011

    " Very interesting, engrossing read. An interesting chapter of American/Panamanian history I didn't know much about. The head of the expedition was from near my hometown, too. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brett | 10/13/2011

    " A pretty interesting account of a miserable trip through the jungle. The book started a little slowly, but picked up once the adventure began. It's no "Heart of the Sea", but still not a bad read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 SunnyD | 9/6/2011

    " this was hard to get into, but an interesting read on one of the many expeditions to build the panama canal. somewhat gruesome and depressing though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deb | 5/17/2011

    " Be amazed at just what an incredible accomplishment was the building of the Panama Canal! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mark | 12/21/2010

    " these explorers must have had a death wish. Painful to read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kim | 9/22/2010

    " I was surprised that this wasn't more interesting. Seems like just the kind of adventure story I'd love but I never really connected with the characters in this one. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Joshpenn | 3/28/2010

    " A great example of what not to do, if you're ever looking for a good time in central America towards the former half of the 20th century. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Darrick | 4/22/2009

    " This just bored me to death. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alyce | 3/27/2009

    " Very interesting, engrossing read. An interesting chapter of American/Panamanian history I didn't know much about. The head of the expedition was from near my hometown, too. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brett | 6/15/2008

    " A pretty interesting account of a miserable trip through the jungle. The book started a little slowly, but picked up once the adventure began. It's no "Heart of the Sea", but still not a bad read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deb | 1/16/2008

    " Be amazed at just what an incredible accomplishment was the building of the Panama Canal! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Susan | 12/12/2007

    " Exploration of the Panamanian jungle. Not as exciting as some exploration books--a lot of setbacks for this group who started their explorations with a lot of faulty information. Interesting story, but it moves slowly. "

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About the Author
Todd Balf, the author of The Last River and a former senior editor for Outside, is a contributing editor to Men’s Journal. He first traveled to Panama’s Darién in 1991—a memorably flawed crossing in which he and his companions traveled by foot, burro, and dugout canoe yet managed to see neither the Pacific nor the Atlantic.
About the Narrator

Scott Brick, actor, narrator, and writer, attended UCLA and spent ten years in a traveling Shakespeare company. Passionate about the spoken word, he has narrated a wide variety of audiobooks, from thrillers and science fiction to classics and nonfiction. He has recorded more than eight hundred audiobooks and won over fifty AudioFile Earphones Awards and several of the prestigious Audie Awards. He was named a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine and the Voice of Choice for 2016 by Booklist magazine.