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Into the Abyss: How a Deadly Plane Crash Changed the Lives of a Pilot, a Politician, a Criminal and a Cop

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,123 Ratings  ·  211 Reviews
On an icy night in October 1984, a Piper Navajo commuter plane carrying 9 passengers crashed in the remote wilderness of northern Alberta, killing 6 people. Four survived: the rookie pilot, a prominent politician, a cop, and the criminal he was escorting to face charges. Despite the poor weather, Erik Vogel, the 24-year-old pilot, was under intense pressure to fly--a situa ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 16th 2012 by Random House Canada (first published September 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,727)
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Jul 07, 2013 Carol rated it really liked it
My kind of book! And to think how I found it. Can you believe I spotted this book on a huge wall advertisement on the ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island(it pays to advertise)? Serendipity!

The ad and subtitle immediately caught my attention. Four men who survive a plane crash, the pilot, a politician, a cop and the criminal he was shackled to...all the elements of an adventuresome, adrenaline read. I'll say it again, my kind of book.

I knew from the outset that I'd be interested in how the p
La Petite Américaine
Jun 14, 2013 La Petite Américaine rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one.
Recommended to La Petite Américaine by: NPR : God, I've got to stop listening to them.
Shelves: sucked, zzzzzzzzz
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Catherine Howard

First I should say that I would never in a million years have discovered this book were I to limit my reading to e-books or online bookstores. I just happened upon in a little independent bookstore, thought it sounded interesting (it actually immediately reminded me of the premise of that Liam Neeson movie THE GREY, minus the wolves) and a couple of chapters in, was delighted I had happened upon it. Yay for bookstores. Sadly, things soon took a turn...

This is (yet another) case of an over
Bev Walkling
Oct 03, 2012 Bev Walkling rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've just received my advance reader's copy courtesy of First Reads and was hooked right after reading the introduction!
24 hours later: This book did indeed grab me from the get go. The author Carol Shaben is a recipient of a gold medal for investigative reporting and her skills in this area shine through in this book which tells the story of a deadly aircrash in Northern Canada which took place in October 1984. The story is a personal one for her as her father, Larry Shaben, was one of the four
Accidents change lives. I should know, my parents were killed in a car accident and my life is broken into two pieces: before and after that event. Maybe that's why this book spoke to me so strongly--I found this account of the four survivors of the plane crash very moving. I could recognize the dislocation and confusion that they suffered afterwards and sympathize as they struggled to get their lives back on track again. All four men had crises of some kind about what direction their lives shou ...more
Feb 26, 2016 Brie rated it it was ok
2.5 Stars

The only reason this book ended up on my radar is because it's a bookclub pick for next month. That being said, I do remember when this book came out (I was working in a book store at the time), and the blurb on the front definitely catches your attention. I like a good survival story and I figured it would be interesting to see where these men's lives take them and the relationships they form with one another (which is what I felt the books synopsis really convinces you the book is abo
Lara Kleinschroth
Sep 20, 2012 Lara Kleinschroth rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads, arc
I very gratefully received this ARC from the publisher and proceeded to devour this 'only-in-Canada' true story of survival, tragedy and heartbreak, and ultimate transformation. Carol Shaben had a difficult task with this as it is a deeply personal story - the surviving politician in the plane crash is her father - but she handled it brilliantly by sticking to the facts, and by heavily researching and presenting all sides to the story. The facts leading up to, during, and through the aftermath o ...more
Cindy Kilpatrick
Jun 14, 2015 Cindy Kilpatrick rated it really liked it
There are a few reasons why I would be predisposed to appreciate this book. First, it happened in my neck of the woods just a month before I moved here. Secondly, at the end of his career as a military transport pilot, my father flew Hercules aircraft for 435 Squadron, one of the aircraft and the squadron that was deployed in the search and rescue effort. And then, after his retirement from the military, my dad worked for the Ministry of Transport as an inspector (a job he didn't like very much ...more
Nicky McHugh
Apr 23, 2014 Nicky McHugh rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Oh no. Not at all what it promises. "Into the Abyss: An Extraordinary True Story -- Only four men survive the plane crash. The pilot. A politician. A cop -- and the criminal he was shackled to ..." ... promises the cover of the book. In reality, and I really don't think I'm giving anything away here -- the criminal was not "shackled" to the cop when the plane went down -- and the book is not really a survival tale. Yes the plane went down, yes the four men survived -- but that takes up less than ...more
Feb 24, 2016 Donna rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: most people that I know who have a love of books and good writing
Recommended to Donna by: Keith PJ Duggan
I could easily have read this book in one night - it was so hard to put it down. Several times I needed to stop and gather my emotions back from the edge. Carol has written this account of the tragic plane crash that took the life of, among others, Grant Notley. Her father, Larry Shaben, was on the flight and he and several others survive this harrowing experience.
I don't want to say anymore because I'll get carried away and want to tell you everything.
Please read this book - it is in my top 10
Feb 02, 2013 VaultOfBooks rated it liked it
By Carol Shaben. Grade: B+.

They say reality is stranger than fiction. That is exactly what I had in mind when I said yes to this account of a plane crash and the subsequent events that took place in 1984.

On an icy night in October 1984, a Piper Navajo commuter plane carrying 9 passengers crashed in the remote wilderness of northern Alberta, killing 6 people. Four survived: the rookie pilot, a prominent politician, a cop, and the criminal he was escorting to face charges. Despite the poor weather
Sep 23, 2013 Skye rated it really liked it
Into the Abyss: An extraordinary true story, by Carol Shaben, 311 pages, Grand Central Publishing, 2012, $25

Into the Abyss was a 24-hour book for me. Actually, less – I stayed up until I finished it at 2 a.m. and spent the next few dogs recovering. And I didn’t even read the chapters in order.

Written by a Canadian journalist who was on her first job overseas when she reads in the newspaper that her father, a Canadian politician, was in a place crash, Abyss was spell-binding. And the fact that it
Sep 09, 2014 Kate rated it liked it
Fascinating recount about four men who survived a planecrash in northern Canada. Written by one of the survivor's daughters (who is a journalist) it deals with the randomness of life, luck, survivor reactions and the personal story of each of these men. In addition, it is an insight into the pressures faced by many small time aviation companies and the flow through pressure to their pilots to keep people moving and think about the risk later. Scary.
Oct 03, 2013 Martin rated it it was amazing
The original headline for the book's cover ("Only four men survived the plane crash. The pilot. A politician. A cop... and the criminal he was shackled to.") was the most attention-grabbing I had ever seen. The story itself was extraordinary. The writing of the book itself, and the unreal amount of excellent research necessary to tell the story, was mind-blowing. This is an incredible journalistic achievement, with timelines of events lining up perfectly, and excellent insight garnered from thos ...more
Simon Lipson
Jul 10, 2013 Simon Lipson rated it really liked it
A well researched, tautly written mix of journalism and true story telling. Ms Shaben's father, a prominent Canadian politician, was one of four survivors of a small plane crash in the snowy wilderness. Six passengers died.

Ms Shaben does an excellent job of describing the crash in detail and the means by which the four survived a long night before being rescued. She delves into the safety issues, the extraordinary rescue operation and the aftermath with a gimlet eye. In particular, she tells ea
Jul 04, 2013 Beth rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: survival
I feel bad giving this book only two stars, but it should have been a long magazine article instead. The main problem is that the cover blurbs did not match what was inside. For instance, I'm sure surviving a plane crash is unbelievably traumatic, but the men were rescued after one night by a campfire, so I'm not sure you can bill that as "extraordinary." And yes, one of them was a (petty) criminal, but so what? Then, as another reviewer noted, the experience did not really transform these four ...more
Feb 25, 2014 Dave rated it it was ok
The only reason I gave it a two star, was because I finished it. I should have quit half way through and given it one. I don't want to be mean spirited, but to me, the author wrote this because she thought that the whole story was wildly fascinating and why wouldn't it, her dad survived the crash. But to an outsider looking in, not so. I expected a great survival story, no food, shelter, water etc and trekking out of a wreck that couldn't be located. Wrong. That part only takes up 5% of the stor ...more
Aug 11, 2013 Sarah rated it liked it
A solid and often moving account of a small plane crash (and its aftermath) in Northern Canada in 1984 that killed 6 but left 4 survivors: the pilot, a politician (the author's father), a police officer, and the prisoner he was transporting. Of the survivors, the prisoner was least hurt in the crash, and he kept the others alive through the freezing night until rescuers arrived the next day. The book chronicles the crash, the unsafe pressures in the rural aviation industry that contributed to th ...more
Jan 04, 2013 Marsha rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was really looking forward to reading this book based on the title and blurb. It started off well, but the author does not know how to stick to the subject at hand. Instead of delving into the crash and aftermath, she stops as soon as the crash happens and launches into a huge interlude of backstory about the various characters and their families. I think her journalistic tendencies have greatly interfered with her ability to reveal the key story. Basically, this reads like a first draft, with ...more
Mar 20, 2014 Angie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Angie by: no one
Not a bad book that was written by the daughter of a small air plane crash surviver in the north of Canada in 1984. I enjoyed how the book concentrated on the survivers lives after the crash and not just the accident.

Four men survived and this changed their lives completely. I liked the way the author told the story, the bad with the good. She seemed to of interviewed as many people as possible to find out all she could. I read this all in one day, I just wanted to know how their lives turned ou
Jan 27, 2015 Erika rated it really liked it
I wasn't sure I was interested in reading this book when it was selected for my bookclub but thought I should read it or else there really isn't a point in being in a bookclub. I am glad that I did. It was a well written, tight and emotional book that really delved into the lives of the men who survived that plane crash. It gave just enough detail to be fascinating when reading about safety regulations and airlines. I had no idea about these frequent small plane crashes. A fascinating story set ...more
Sarah Scribner
Jul 29, 2015 Sarah Scribner rated it liked it
While the writing was fairly concise and captivating in this book - unlike some other non-fiction I have read, I'm not sure the actual incident itself was worthy of a book. The cover and blurb makes a big deal of the criminal being in the plane wreck when actually the fact that he's a criminal doesn't play into it hardly at all. The entire story is just kind of blah. They survived a plane crash and about 10 hours in the woods - which is in itself fairly incredible- I just don't think it's enough ...more
John Rivera
Jun 29, 2013 John Rivera rated it it was amazing
When I first picked this up I had a somewhat skewed concept of what I was buying. When I discovered these men were only stranded for a day and I noticed that less than a third of the book covered the event itself I thought I was bound for boredom. I'm glad to have been wrong.

I actually found myself a little choked up in a number of places in this book. It's not just about a plane crash and a fight for the survivors to remain alive that fateful day; this book is also about man's search for meanin
Oct 18, 2015 Tamara rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ellen Behrens
Jun 09, 2016 Ellen Behrens rated it it was amazing
Usually we pick books set in areas we're traveled or have spent time so we can learn something new about those places. But something else drew me to "Into the Abyss," by Carol Shaben. Maybe it was the blurb at on the cover: "Only four men survived the plane crash. The pilot. A politician. A cop -- and the criminal he was shackled to..." The subtitle sealed the deal: "An extraordinary true story."

And an extraordinary story it is. In October of 1984 a small commuter plane crashed in the wilderness
Sarah Deeth
Jul 03, 2016 Sarah Deeth rated it liked it
Here's the thing-If you're going to slap the title, "Into the Abyss," on your non-fiction book, you gotta bring your A Game. Maybe I've just been reading too many King/Flynn type books lately, but I see that on the cover along side the words, "plane crash," and I expect something much, much darker.
I guess it is a little dark-There was a very bad plane crash and many people died. But the fight for survival didn't seem that remarkable to me. The injured were dragged out, they built a fire and the
I couldn't put this book down. Carol did amazing research and is a great storyteller. I could picture the whole ordeal these men endured. I felt as though I got to personally know them. It was great to hear about their reunion. Terrific job, Carol Shaben!
Feb 13, 2014 Cori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a reminder that we are all equals, no matter what our education is, our job or our situation in life. Four men share an experience that is profound and life- changing or life- affirming. We can all learn seething from this book.
Sep 14, 2015 Shawna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best part of this book was during the harrowing plane crash, and reading how the men came together and did what needed to be done. I thought it dragged a little afterward -- as it almost had too because bureaucratic Traffic Safety Board meetings will never be as riveting as a plane crash.

I still thought it was a worthwhile read,(some reviews are absolutely scathing, I guess those readers aren't much for nuance and aftermath.) It certainly opened my eyes to the pressures that small craft pil
Jul 03, 2016 Sheila rated it liked it
In October, 1984, a small airplane crashed into the wilderness near High Prairie, Alberta. The pilot, Erik Vogel was under pressure to complete the flight even though the weather conditions were horrible and he was battling immense fatigue. He believed his job was on the line if he did not take off that night. Only four of the ten people survived. The author's father, Larry Shaben was Alberta's first Muslim cabinet minister returning home from Edmonton for the weekend. The book tells the events ...more
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Need to read this! 3 26 Dec 10, 2014 04:25AM  
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Carol Shaben is an award winning journalist and author. Nominated as Canada's Best New Magazine writer, she is a recipient of two National Magazine Awards including a Gold Medal for Investigative Journalism.

"Into the Abyss" sold to Random House Canada within two hours and has been published in the US, UK, Brazil, Spain and Spanish speaking world. It is a National Bestseller, a Barnes & Noble
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