Page 51. " poorer than Job "

Satan smiting Job with boils, illustrated by William Blake
Public DomainSatan smiting Job with boils, illustrated by William Blake - Credit: Morgan Library

In The Book of Job God commands Satan to smite Job, a rich but pious man, as a test of his devotion:

Job 1:12. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD. 

Satan and the sons of God destroy Job's home, livelihood and offspring. Having lost all his material goods, Job throws himself to the ground and declares:

Job 1:21. Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. 


Page 51. " Old West "
Often referred to as the Wild West and used to describe all areas west of the Mississippi River in America, the Old West is the stuff of legends and of major significance to the taming of the continent, through the arrival of the railroads and law enforcers and the provisions of the Homestead Act.
Page 51. " plesiosaurus "

An aquatic reptile from the Jurassic period. The plesiosaurus had a sleek body, wide flippers and a swan-like neck.

Page 51. " Dr Hipolito Yrigoyen "

The leader of the Radical Party, Yrigoyen was President of Argentina two times. His first term (1916-1922) was marked by strong economic growth; his second (1928-1930) coincided with the worldwide recession and he became the vicitim of the country's first military coup.

Page 57. " Butch Cassidy "

Even those who have never seen the classic Paul Newman and Robert Redford film interpretation, or read a biography of Butch Cassidy, The Sundance Kid and their Wild Bunch gang, will recognise these legendary names of the Wild West.

Born Robert LeRoy Parker, Cassidy was encouraged into crime by the deprivations of his Utah homestead youth and strict Mormon upbringing. Although he became one of the most notorious outlaws in American history, Chatwin repeats the claim that Butch 'never killed a man,' - at least not until he got to Argentina. The Wild Bunch also formed part of the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang, named after the remote Hole-in-the-Wall Pass in Wyoming where they would retreat to after robberies.


The 1969 film, with Newman as Cassidy, did much to cement his iconography in the popular imagination, not least with the startling freeze-frame final still of his disputed death in Patagonia.


Page 57. " Pinkerton Agency's list of most wanted "

The Pinkerton Agency was set up in 1850 in Chicago as a private security firm and at one point its members numbered more than the official United States Army. Known as 'Pinks' to their detractors, their activities were often controversial and included strikebreaking and union infiltration. Pinkerton agents were used widely to capture and kill outlaws in the taming of the Wild West.

Page 58. " Brigham Young's handcart companies "
A reference to the founder of Salt Lake City, Brigham Young. Nicknamed the American Moses, he led a brigade of Mormon pioneers through the Old West in what was effectively an odyssey to their Promised Land.
Page 59. " Cheyenne Club "

An exclusive and lavish club formed by wealthy members of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association in the late 1880s.

Page 65. " murdering the Fiat executive "

On April 10th 1972, Oberdan Sallustro, an executive with the Fiat motor company in Argentina, was murdered. He had been kidnapped three weeks earlier, another victim of the continuing guerrila violence against Perón.

Page 69. " A flock of flamingos "

The flamingos are a delightful find in the wastes of Patagonia where the only other animal life you might see for days are endless sheep and cattle, the screeching tero-tero and the occassional skunk.