Joshua Rich
August 25, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Cloud Garden

Current Status
In Season
Tom Hart Dyke, Paul Winder
The Lyons Press

We gave it an A

In early 2000, two twenty-something Brits — orchid expert Tom Hart Dyke and avid adventurer Paul Winder — did a very stupid thing. Ignoring vehement warnings, the pair trekked into the Darién Gap, a dense, unpoliced jungle straddling Panama and Colombia, where drug running and civil war are rampant. Sure enough, they were kidnapped by guerrillas. The authors take turns vividly recounting their scary, absurd ordeal in The Cloud Garden, which was punctuated by boredom, tropical parasites, and frustration with the bumbling band of AK-47-toting youngsters who held them hostage for nine months. ”I found that my fear of death was subsiding,” Hart Dyke writes. ”Far worse to contemplate was these idiots getting their cash.” The duo achieve a new kind of suspense — a tale in which their captors names, their exact location, and their well-being matter less than getting the hell out.

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