STARRED REVIEW
March 2018

Two men walk into the jungle

Carl Hoffman

In The Last Wild Men of Borneo, author Carl Hoffman (Savage Harvest) tells the alternating stories of two bold and fearless men: Bruno Manser from Switzerland and American Michael Palmieri. Comparing and contrasting the two, Hoffman compellingly explains what drove them to seek a life of daring exploration.

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In The Last Wild Men of Borneo, author Carl Hoffman (Savage Harvest) tells the alternating stories of two bold and fearless men: Bruno Manser from Switzerland and American Michael Palmieri. Comparing and contrasting the two, Hoffman compellingly explains what drove them to seek a life of daring exploration.

Both traveled to a variety of intriguing locales, including Beirut, Kabul and Thailand, and they eventually ended up in tropical Borneo, the world’s third largest island. Home to parts of Malaysia, Indonesia and the tiny sultanate of Brunei, Borneo’s terrain is not the lush jungle typically associated with a hot, steamy climate, but rather an “ancient primary landscape of hardwood trees soaring one hundred feet tall.” Both Manser and Palmieri were drawn to the beauty and mystery of this unusual island, particularly the sacred cultures of its people and “romantic notions of their power.”

Although the two men were different in almost every way, in Palmieri’s words, they were “both obsessed.” Manser ventured deep into the dense rainforest and essentially went native, living among the Penan people and leading a fight against the logging and mining companies destroying the pristine forest. Palmieri also journeyed far into the rugged terrain, ultimately becoming a tribal art dealer and collector. They were each trying to save this land and its culture in their own way. But while Palmieri ended up with a comfortable lifestyle, Manser mysteriously disappeared without a trace in 2000.

Hoffman charts the engrossing backstory of both men, and through meticulous research, interviews and personal visits, he paints a vivid character portrait of the two adventurers while detailing the incredible splendor of the unique region. The Last Wild Men of Borneo is an exciting tale of Borneo’s rich history and two modern-day treasure hunters who followed their dreams.

 

This article was originally published in the March 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Last Wild Men of Borneo

The Last Wild Men of Borneo

By Carl Hoffman
Morrow
ISBN 9780062439024

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