Book Review: The Lost River

As many of you know, I've been bitten by the rafting bug as of late. Unfortunately, as this time of year does not lend itself to that type of adventuring, I've had to read of the exploits of others. Richard Bangs weighs in with an autobiographical account entitled The Lost River. In this book Bangs, the founder of the adventure travel company SOBEK, recounts his many rafting adventures. He starts with his adolescence learning to boat on the Potomac and concludes the book with a run on the Tekeze in Ethiopia. The majority of this well written and entertaining book is spent on his descents in Ethiopia. He describes in vivid detail his first descents of the Omo, Awash and a previously unrun section of the Blue Nile. As if these descriptions are not dramatic enough, he is doing these first descents while Ethiopia spirals into political chaos at the end of Hailie Selassie’s reign. The rafting done in this book is well beyond my current comfort level, Bangs and his cohorts routinely run class V and VI rapids which, by the way, are infested with crocodiles. The only real flaw that I found in the book is the amount of time he devotes to discussing technology and prognosticating about its future applications; those chapters belonged in a different work. All in all, this is an entertaining read for you armchair adventures, but its nothing like you'll find if you're fortunate enough to join me in a rafting trip in the coming year.


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