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Mad about the Mekong : exploration and empire in South East Asia / John Keay.

By: Keay, John.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: London : Harper Perennial, 2006Description: 294 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 0007111150(pbk).Subject(s): France. Commission d'exploration du Mékong (1866-1868) | France. Commission d'exploration du Meko | Mekong River Discovery and exploration French | Mekong River Valley Description and travel | Mekong River Valley History | Mekong River Valley -- Description and travel | Mekong River -- Discovery and exploration -- French | Mekong River Valley -- HistorySubject: Wildest of the world's great rivers, until ten years ago the Mekong boasted not a single bridge, let alone a city. From Tibet to Vietnam it flows for nearly 3,000 miles through a succession of rapids and cataracts buried in inaccessible gorges and impenetrable forest. Millions depend on its waters, yet of its course or its potential almost nothing was known until one of history's most ambitious expeditions disappeared into the forests of Laos in 1866. Mad About the Mekong is the little-known story of this expedition, of its triumphs and disasters in the most inhospitable terrain, of how it led to the creation of an empire, and of why the Mekong still retains its reputation as the river at the 'Heart of Darkness'." "The Mekong Exploration Commission, led by the enigmatic 'Commandant' Doudart de Lagree and the obsessive Francis Garnier, dwarfed all contemporary expeditions including those searching for the source of the Nile. The explorers were gone for over two years and travelled a greater distance than the length of Africa, through present-day Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma and China. Twenty-strong when they left Saigon, only thirteen survivors finally emerged on the Yangtse. Lagree himself was among those who perished." "John Keay reveals how the expedition's discoveries inspired the carve-up of the region, first between the French and the British and then between communism and capitalism. Following in the wake of Lagree and his companions, he delves into the river's record as a refuge for exotic tribes and endangered species, as well as a redoubt for the savagery, lawlessness, obscure wars and clandestine operations that have marked its history.
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

The story of both a dramatic journey retracing the historic voyage of France's greatest 19th-century explorer up the mysterious Mekong river, and a portrait of the river and its peoples today. Any notion of sailing up the Mekong in homage to Francis Garnier has been unthinkable until now. From its delta in Vietnam up through Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma and on into China, the Mekong has been a no-go river, its turbulent waters fouled by ideological barriers as formidable as its natural obstacles. But recently the political obstacles have begun to be dismantled - river traffic is reviving. John Keay describes the world of the Mekong as it is today, rehabilitating a traumatised geography while recreating the thrilling and historic voyage of Garnier in 1866. The French expedition was intended to investigate the 'back door' into China by outflanking the British and American conduits of commerce at Hong Kong and Shanghai. Two naval gunboats headed upriver into the green unknown, bearing crack troops, naturalists, geologists and artists. The two-year expedition's failures and successes, and the tragedy and acrimony that marked it, make riveting reading.

Wildest of the world's great rivers, until ten years ago the Mekong boasted not a single bridge, let alone a city. From Tibet to Vietnam it flows for nearly 3,000 miles through a succession of rapids and cataracts buried in inaccessible gorges and impenetrable forest. Millions depend on its waters, yet of its course or its potential almost nothing was known until one of history's most ambitious expeditions disappeared into the forests of Laos in 1866. Mad About the Mekong is the little-known story of this expedition, of its triumphs and disasters in the most inhospitable terrain, of how it led to the creation of an empire, and of why the Mekong still retains its reputation as the river at the 'Heart of Darkness'." "The Mekong Exploration Commission, led by the enigmatic 'Commandant' Doudart de Lagree and the obsessive Francis Garnier, dwarfed all contemporary expeditions including those searching for the source of the Nile. The explorers were gone for over two years and travelled a greater distance than the length of Africa, through present-day Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma and China. Twenty-strong when they left Saigon, only thirteen survivors finally emerged on the Yangtse. Lagree himself was among those who perished." "John Keay reveals how the expedition's discoveries inspired the carve-up of the region, first between the French and the British and then between communism and capitalism. Following in the wake of Lagree and his companions, he delves into the river's record as a refuge for exotic tribes and endangered species, as well as a redoubt for the savagery, lawlessness, obscure wars and clandestine operations that have marked its history.

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