RaveThe Guardian (UK)Davis is a powerful, penetrating and immensely knowledgeable writer ... Madgalena...is very personal. Its three sections...promise a smooth linear ride downriver, but the text is full of mysterious eddies and crosscurrents ... \'living narratives\' are the heart of a book whose final purpose is to \'celebrate the true wonder of a country that has long been overlooked and misunderstood.\' Passages of description catch the evanescent flavour of towns along the way ... Magdalena is steeped in a physical sense of Colombia: the landscapes, the disreputable backstreets, the irrepressibly resilient people. This eclectic log-book of life on the river puts one in mind of Ryszard Kapuściński’s idea of travel writing as \'authenticated by its being lived\'—\'you have experienced this event on your own skin, and it is this experience, this feeling along the surface of your skin, which gives your story its coherence.\'
PositiveThe GuardianThe story of the world’s most expensive painting is narrated with great gusto and formidably researched detail in Ben Lewis’s book ... Lewis has a background in arts journalism and documentary films: snappy reportage of mega-buck deals is his element. But to his credit, much of the book is in a rather different mode of patient historical investigation. He examines the chequered career of the painting from its inception – probably in Milan, sometime around 1507-10 – which leads him into areas where lurk many more questions than answers.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalAn expert cultural study ... both authoritative and entertaining and offers a much-needed antidote to the din of the Brexit debate. Here is the long view, across three centuries, of a cultural exchange that is rich, complex and tenacious ... one of the pleasures of The Warm South is its restless flitting from place to place, vicariously guided by long-dead visitors or residents ... Also a pleasure are the book’s illustrations, full of the color and light and casual antiquity that are so much part of the story.