In 2011, Michael Jacobs travelled its whole length to the river's source high up in Andean moorlands controlled by guerrillas. In spellbinding prose, The Robber of Memories charts the dangers he negotiated - including the claustrophobic, snail-slow journey upriver by a vast tugboat and a terrifying three day encounter with the FARC - while uncovering the river's history of pioneering explorations, environmental decline and political violence.
An extra dimension was added to his journey by a chance meeting with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whose memories are rapidly fading and increasingly concentrate on the enchanted Magdalena of his youth. As Jacobs delves into the history of destruction and decay along the river, he also makes a deeply personal exploration into memory and its loss. Coincidentally, not far from the river's banks, lies a group of townships with the highest incidence of early onset Alzheimer's in the world. Jacobs reflects on the lives of his father, and his mother - sufferers respectively from Alzheimer's and dementia - as he travels upstream towards what comes to seem like a heartland of mystery, magic and darkness.