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July 11, 1993|CHARLES SOLOMON

THREE LETTERS FROM THE ANDES by Patrick Leigh Fermor, illustrations by John Craxton (Penguin: $10; 118 pp, paperback original.). Fermor's account of a group of upper-class British adventurers exploring Peru in 1971 has a droll, impractical tone that suggests the Pickwickians at Machu Picchu. (Gear for the expedition included Charvet pyjamas and "14 bottles of airport whiskey poured into two semitransparent unbreakable jerrycans.") Although Fermor revels in the beauties of the Andean landscape and the Inca ruins, he's less enthusiastic about the opulently depicted martyrdoms in baroque churches, noting, "There is gold and blood everywhere."

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