Books: To Dream No More

THE LOSS OF EL DORADO by V.S. Naipaul. 335 pages. Knopf. $7.50.

Shortly before Venezuela's Orinoco River reaches the Atlantic, it blossoms into estuaries. Just above them on the map, like a bee frozen over a skeletal rose, is Trinidad—an island with a history of frustrated dreams.

To the latter-day Spanish conquistador Antonio de Berrio, Trinidad was a staging point for futile Orinoco expeditions in search of El Dorado, the mythical city of gold. To Berrio's English rival, Sir Walter Raleigh, Trinidad was to be the beginning of a South American empire, where Indians...

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