I am just one of many readers. When I give this book two stars it most accurately answers the question how did I react to the book. This is how I rate...moreI am just one of many readers. When I give this book two stars it most accurately answers the question how did I react to the book. This is how I rate all my books. This book was OK! That is what 2 stars is said to mean on GR! That does not mean it was bad. I will explain why I have reacted as I did so hopefully you can more easily determine how you may react to the book. Why all this explanation? Because I am thinking that if I only give this book two stars that will give an unfavorable impression, and it isn’t a bad book. I am tired of everyone rating books favorably when that is not really how they reacted to the book. You see it all the time. People say they liked the book, and then give it a five star rating. A five star book is supposed to be amazing. You are supposed to leave a five star book dazzled. Sorry for that long-winded explanation, but this has been bugging me.
Jon Kraukauer is a journalist who has written for the sports magazine Outside. His climb of Mt. Everest was initiated by a request for an article on the commercialization of the mountain, the highest in the world. Such an article preceded the writing of this book, and it sets the tone for the book. I was unaware that the commercialization of Mt. Everest would be a central theme of the book. I was unaware that the book would be directed toward mountaineers and sport enthusiasts, that being because it grew from the article in the sports magazine. If you are a mountaineer yourself, you will be more interested in the detailed exposition of who has climbed which mountains and when and with which equipment. (I prefer trekking and I am not gear oriented.) The history of climbing is interesting, but here you get a rundown of each climber’s accomplishments and failures. I couldn’t keep all the different “big names” straight, and there are many, both in this excursion and in the numerous others mentioned. This information interrupts the telling of what happened in the 1996 Everest disaster, which is what drew me to the book. Who were at fault? Why did it happen What can be done to improve safety? Is there one answer? No, of course not. Sandy Pittman/Sandra Hill has written articles and spoken of her view of what happened. There is also Anatoli Boukreev’s book : The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest. In his book, Krakauer clearly criticizes Boukreev, but it was Boukreev who saved Sandy’s life. All three were there, along with so many others.
Climbing Mt. Everest has become a business, a commodity to be sold, and on that day when the storm hit there were so many people there were bottlenecks and queues up there near the summit. Mountaineering, at least on Everest, is not a solitary sport! So at the bottom lies also my dislike of “the crowd” and of a sport that seems to me ridiculous. If people choose to put their lives at risk, well then they better be prepared for the consequences. Krakauer’s belief that it might be worthwhile to forbid the use of bottled gas, which enables all too many to attempt what they are untrained to do, is not a bad idea. How do you enforce that?! Do you deter people through exorbitant fees? All of this is discussed. Very little of the book is exciting, and at the end I don’t know if I have any clear answers.
The author narrates the book himself. Not a bad job, but I did laugh at how he pronounced the Swedish mountaineer, Göran Kropp’s, first name. Someone could have told him. It is such a common name. It made me wonder if he pronounced other names incorrectly, the Sherpas’ for example.
Finally, I think this book should have made clear what draws people to the mountaineering sport. I still don’t understand that. Krakauer just says it has an attraction for some and once you are hooked, well you are hooked! I want to understand what they feel, see, experience. I only saw the business side of the whole thing. He states that the view at Everest is unexceptional, and at high altitudes you can easily destroy your body! So why do they do it? This book never answered that question for me. It cannot be for fame or recognition because so many do not succeed. So what is it? (less)
Please start by carefully reading the GR book description. It is accurate and to...moreThrough A House in the Sky you vicariously experience being a hostage.
Please start by carefully reading the GR book description. It is accurate and to the point.
What can I add? The book is both well written and well laid out. What the author lived through is not sensationalized and I admire Amanda Lindhout for that. The book is co-authored by Sara Corbett. Together the two have written a very, very good book. It is not an easy book to read. By starting with Amanda's troubled family circumstances the reader grasps where she is coming from and why she makes the choices she makes. Some are extremely foolish, but don't we all?
460 days, that is how long she was held hostage. I cannot describe as well as the author does herself her h-o-r-r-i-b-l-e experience. Everything goes from bad to worse. (view spoiler)[Yes, she is raped, repeatedly! And tortured. (hide spoiler)] You might as well know that before you start. But absolutely none of the events are described in a sensational manner. She describes all with grace. I cannot emphasize this enough.
Islamic fundamentalists do this to her. This made me very, very mad. I am mad at all that is done in the name of religion. I am not willing to point a finger at Islam. Historically people of all religions under a guise of sweet words do the unforgivable. Some people did help Amanda. I am primarily thinking in this case of one wonderful Somali woman. I have to hang on to what that one woman did to not lose all faith in humankind. I recommend this book very highly. It needs to be read.
I really enjoyed the audiobook narration by Amanda, the one who lived through these events. OK, I have not met her in person but at least I have heard her voice. It is not pretentious. She has learned from her mistakes and gone forward with such amazing strength. I admire her tremendously.
I was using a map from National Geographic while I listened to this. Both Amanda and I love that magazine!
An excellent reportage of the travail of this doomed trek. All the where, when, who, why and how questions are, if not definitively answered, thorough...moreAn excellent reportage of the travail of this doomed trek. All the where, when, who, why and how questions are, if not definitively answered, thoroughly analyzed. Some questions still today cannot be conclusively answered. Over the years opposing views have been voiced. Who were the real heroes, who the villains and who the cowards? Why did this expedition go so tragically wrong? The push westward to Oregon and California over the plains and the mountains during the years of the 1840s-1860s, a 2000 mile trek most often starting from Independence, Missouri, did not always end so disastrously. What went wrong here? That is the theme of this book. Cannibalism did occur but the exact details are contradictory. These contradictions, they too are analyzed, and the death tolls are studied: by sex, by age and by social ties.
Please note that the individuals studied,both those of the journey and those in the relief efforts, were numerous. In this book you do not get "inside the individuals' heads". The book is too serious a study for that. Instead possible motivations and fears are listed. Previous life events of the individuals are given so we can understand their temperaments.
The events unroll in an amazingly exciting/gruesome fashion. There is no need for fiction. Real life events are startling and painful. When you think you have reached the end, you think the problems must end now, you will find only more problems await: another blizzard another moral decision to be tackled. These poor people!
I listened to the audiobook. There is nothing much to say about the narration. It was just fine, although in my ears I heard a reflection of pity which sometimes annoyed me. Just give us the facts, buddy. Don't get me wrong; this is no big problem.
This has two 1 hour long sections and you feel like you are there on the ship. Extremely exciting. I have listened only to the first part. THIS is certainly worth listening to.
Having completed the the second section....I will not go and get the book. It is just not my cup of tea. It is about both the horrors of naval warfare and wartime love affairs. Part one was much more gripping than part two.
IF I were to award stars it would only get two from me. I abstain from this since reading of the book would give a completely different experience. (less)
This was exciting! I recommend this book to those who want to throw themselves into another world, albeit a world cold, wet, icy and filled with fear,...moreThis was exciting! I recommend this book to those who want to throw themselves into another world, albeit a world cold, wet, icy and filled with fear, exhaustion and hunger.
Ernest Shackleton set out in 1914 to cross the Antarctic from west to east. Yes, WW1 had broken out and he had Churchill’s go-ahead Why? For the glory of Britain and for his own glory too. The race for polar discovery was in full-swing. On December 14, 1911, the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen led the first successful expedition to arrive at the South Pole, five weeks ahead of a British party led by Robert Falcon Scott. Robert Edwin Peary, an American explorer, is credited with having been the first to reach the geographic North Pole. There has been some debate as to whether Frederick Cook, also an American, got there a year earlier.
The audiobook narration by Simon Prebble is excellent.
When the expedition began there were twenty-nine men aboard the Endurance; there was one stowaway! (view spoiler)[All twenty-nine survived. (hide spoiler)]This book lets you live the experiences of these men and shows how this amazing feat was accomplished. I have a shelf for books concerning “bad-trip” expeditions. To date, this is my favorite.
Too long ; needs better editing. For example, the time spent on the raft is just too long and drawn out.
I have a very hard time believing some of the...moreToo long ; needs better editing. For example, the time spent on the raft is just too long and drawn out.
I have a very hard time believing some of the events: (view spoiler)[the numerous Japanese bullets missed Allan Phillips and Max on the raft and fixing the bullet holes in the raft while they remained in it is implausible! (hide spoiler)] The sharks’ behavior seems unbelievable too…. The crews on the airplanes were given fleece clothing when they left for their first air assignment. Did there really exist fleece clothing back in the forties?! I just cannot believe many statements made in this book! Louis’ behavior as a child seems at least very much “exaggerated”.
Neither does the religious message professed in this book work for me. That Louis falls under the spell of Billy Graham put me off.
Exciting? Yes! This is the quintessential survival story, and it is true!
In 1985 Joe Simpson and Simon Yates decide to climb the west face of Siula Gra...moreExciting? Yes! This is the quintessential survival story, and it is true!
In 1985 Joe Simpson and Simon Yates decide to climb the west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. I am no mountaineer, but even I could spot some of their errors. The book focuses on moral issues too. (view spoiler)[A prime one being that Simon cuts the rope between him and Joe, remember Joe is the author, causing Joe to fall into a deep crevasse. Simon takes Joe for dead and returns to base camp, where Richard has remained to watch over their possessions. Simon didn't look down that crevasse to check and see if Joe really was dead. Was it right to cut that rope? Do you sacrifice one person's life to save another, or must both die? I can understand cutting that rope....given the conditions. What I find inexcusable is that when Simon returned to camp he did not immediately get help and search parties in to look for Joe. THAT is beyond my comprehension. (hide spoiler)]
Most of the time I could picture the glacial landscape. There are crevasses and ice bridges and morasses and fissures and glacial expanses, sparkling light and snow storms and it is cold and wet, freezing. I could NOT exactly picture what it was like in the crevasse as the author described it. So maybe the movie is better than the book? The author took part in the filming later in 2002.
Joe's fear, his physical pain and exhaustion, his terror, THAT I definitely felt. His hallucinations became my hallucinations. Simon corroborated with Joe in the writing of this book. Nevertheless, I did NOT feel that his words rang as true as Joe's. Simon's voice in the audiobook is narrated by Andrew Wincott. It was too slick, too quiet. No, he didn't even sound like a mountaineer. Joe's narration by Daniel Weyman was spot-on.
My gut reaction to the audiobook was that I liked it. I certainly was not going to stop in the middle, although I had to take breathers. I am a coward and couldn't sit still, it gripped me so! I liked that not many lines were spent on the medical treatments required after this escapade. I liked that there is a short epilogue covering Joe's philosophical approach to his experiences. Yes, he continued to climb mountains.
I need a break. I absolutely cannot continue listening to Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man's Miraculous Survival. It is so terrible......what happens, I mean. I cannot, cannot continue listening. Does that make it good? The two guys are (view spoiler)[crazy and stupid and not admirable (hide spoiler)]and this is just too much. I also dislike movies where I want to but cannot leave at bad sections. How does everybody read this stuff and just keep their mouths shut? Why do I get so upset?["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Are you depressed? Are you sick of people? Have you just read a book that has put you in the dumps? Then you must read We Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Es...moreAre you depressed? Are you sick of people? Have you just read a book that has put you in the dumps? Then you must read We Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance. I am sure you will like it. It works like a tonic. People are not all creeps! People do help others. This book is non-fiction, it is true and I dare you to read this book and not feel happy at the end. G-o-o-d book!
It is about events that occurred in Norway during the German occupation of WW2. The story begins in March 1943. Here is a survival story and a war story that will make you be happy to be alive. Have you been in Norway? Then you will also appreciate it, the book I mean. You will recognize the people, the food, hear about the Lapps and of course be swallowed up by the dark nights in the winter and recognize how glorious it is when the spring comes and it never gets dark....but this is scary if you are hiding. This book takes place in northern Norway, near Tromsö and the Bardufoss Airstation and Kilpisärvi Lake.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Stuart Langton. The narration was OK, but the pronunciation of Norwegian names kind of threw me off at times. Other than that I have no complaints. Maybe he showed a bit too much engagement; I prefer neutral narrators but heck he never wrecked the story, and I was completely glued to it once I had stated it.
Read this book. It is exciting and interesting from start to finish. It truly makes one understand the value of genetic multiplicity in the Amazon and...moreRead this book. It is exciting and interesting from start to finish. It truly makes one understand the value of genetic multiplicity in the Amazon and in the entire world. We cannot/ should not loose the potential that this tropical area offers. In addition, Theodore Roosevelt becomes a real person to the reader. What a guy! There are few who compare to this marvelous person. (less)
I highly recommend The Mapmaker's Wife: A True Tale of Love, Murder, and Survival in the Amazon, but not to everyone. The title and the book descript...more I highly recommend The Mapmaker's Wife: A True Tale of Love, Murder, and Survival in the Amazon, but not to everyone. The title and the book description may give the impression that the central theme of the book is a love story. That is false. Part of the book is certainly a wonderful adventure story about a woman who travels practically alone through the Amazon basin to reach her husband stranded in French Guiana, but this portion of the boo takes up only the last seventy pages. The love story and the adventurous trip from Rioabamba (near Quito, Ecuador) down the eastern slopes of the Andes, through the tropical rain forests of the Amazon along the river to its mouth and then to Cayenne, French Guiana is not the central theme of the book. That is important to understand when you choose to read or not read this book. This portion is exciting, and it does put a wonderful end to the book.
What primarily is this book about? It is about a scientific and exploratory expedition carried out in the 1730s and 40s by the French. It is about the Spanish conquest of South America, conquistadors, Hernando Cortés and Francisco Pizarro. It is about the conquest of the Aztecs and the Incas. It is about the plants and animals and minerals and gems found around Quito and the upper stretches of the Amazon. In the pages of this book you will find a lot of history and information about both Spanish and native South American beliefs and practices. You are sure to be fascinated by the description of indigenous plants and animals.
It is important to note that the expedition took place during the Enlightenment. Although the expedition’s primary goal was to measure the distance of one degree of latitude, many other scientific areas were also to be studied, all in the spirit of the era. New scientific instruments were to be tested, to discover the shape of the earth, to discover more precise knowledge of the laws of gravity. Temperature's effect on metals was to be quantified. Botanical varieties were to be documented, in the hope of finding new products and medicines.
The expedition was also to spy. The French wanted to discover what the Spanish had hidden in its Viceroyalty of Peru, as Spain’s territory in South America was called. (Don’t think just Peru. The area extended over a huge chunk of South America up to the Caribbean coastline.) There were so many amazing stories: a city of gold (El Dorado), huge Amazon women warriors, men with feet that were put on backwards, and the women were beauties. What was true? What were imaginary tales? The French wanted to know.
This is a book about science, history, politics and the natural resources found in South America. It is informative. It is engaging, and the end does include an exciting adventure. There are numerous maps, depicting the rivers and tributaries in the Amazon basin. There are maps showing the travel routes followed. There are pictures in the book from museum and private collections illustrating tools, scenes, plants and animals. There is an index and a bibliography. There are direct quotes from sources. The subject matter is very well documented. I never found it boring.
I have two complaints. The first I have already pointed out – a deceptive title and book description. Secondly, the mathematical reasoning meant to explain the expedition’s scientific goals are confusing. Although the triangulation, base lines measured and tools employed are extensively described, I still feel I do not always understand why a given measurement would prove the truth or falsity of the scientific principle being questioned. Please note, these sections can be skimmed, but I tried to understand. I read them several times, and I only sort of understood, on a general level .
Despite my two complaints, I very much enjoyed reading this book. I have given it four stars. In my view it is very well written. (less)