Thirty or even only twenty years ago the title of this book would have read simply: By Boat, Plane, and Bus through most of South America. But in this public-relations-minded, image-creating, consumer-oriented age the reader is lured by an exciting title, only to find himself facing a mirage! To paraphrase the author (p. 94) : “But there is no sign of the Cloud Forest, and I shall have to wait until the next chapter. This, of course, is one of the drawbacks of reading out-of-the-way titles, that such reading is at best uncertain and one is often stranded for three or four chapters at a time.”

The author, however, solves this dilemma by labeling as jungle everything green, thick, and bordering rivers, roads, and horizons. In between one is treated to those good old travel-lore stand-bys such as a discourse on the length of anacondas, and Colonel Fawcett; of more recent vintage are references to Communism, Albert Camus, and the dead missionaries of the Auca country, who he calls “in the most literal sense, damned fools.” On the other hand, Mr. Matthiessen is quite shocked by the looks of a spider monkey being readied for a jungle barbecue.

Books should stimulate thought and raise questions. For example, one lays this book aside with these three questions in mind: how did the German-Chilean maiden and the pilot make love in the cockpit over Lago Buenos Aires? Who won the soccer match at Río Grande? And finally, what is the cloud forest?

Contrary to the author’s modest opinion, the reviewer believes that Matthiessen’s pictures are excellent. As a matter of fact, such good pictures and only the second part of the present volume —with the chapter heading as title— would have made a likeable little book.