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$15.60 $15.55 list($26.00)
1. Between a Rock and a Hard Place
$18.45 $8.99 list($27.95)
2. Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's
$10.46 $2.95 list($13.95)
3. Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible
$11.56 $11.15 list($17.00)
4. Wind, Sand and Stars
$16.47 $5.99 list($24.95)
5. Ada Blackjack : A True Story of
$7.99 $5.14
6. Alive : The Story of the Andes
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7. A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: Explorer,
$16.50 $12.50 list($25.00)
8. American Traveler: The Life and
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9. Beyond the Deep: The Deadly Descent
$23.00 $3.59
10. Sam Patch, the Famous Jumper
$14.28 $7.49 list($21.00)
11. Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton:
$24.95 $21.98
12. Horn of the Hunter
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13. Passionate Nomad : The Life of
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14. High Calling : The Courageous
$21.99 $17.22
15. In Search of the Elusive Peace
$12.89 $12.54 list($18.95)
16. The Beckoning Silence
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17. All Fourteen 8,000ers
$18.48 $18.34 list($28.00)
18. Cook: The Extraordinary Voyages
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19. Close to the Wind
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20. Columbus in the Americas (Turning

1. Between a Rock and a Hard Place
by Aron Ralston
list price: $26.00
our price: $15.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743492811
Catlog: Book (2004-09)
Publisher: Atria
Sales Rank: 192
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Book Description

One of the most extraordinary survival stories ever told -- Aron Ralston's searing account of his six days trapped in one of the most remote spots in America, and how one inspired act of bravery brought him home.

It started out as a simple hike in the Utah canyonlands on a warm Saturday afternoon. For Aron Ralston, a twenty-seven-year-old mountaineer and outdoorsman, a walk into the remote Blue John Canyon was a chance to get a break from a winter of solo climbing Colorado's highest and toughest peaks. He'd earned this weekend vacation, and though he met two charming women along the way, by early afternoon he finally found himself in his element: alone, with just the beauty of the natural world all around him.

It was 2:41 P.M. Eight miles from his truck, in a deep and narrow slot canyon, Aron was climbing down off a wedged boulder when the rock suddenly, and terrifyingly, came loose. Before he could get out of the way, the falling stone pinned his right hand and wrist against the canyon wall.

And so began six days of hell for Aron Ralston. With scant water and little food, no jacket for the painfully cold nights, and the terrible knowledge that he'd told no one where he was headed, he found himself facing a lingering death -- trapped by an 800-pound boulder 100 feet down in the bottom of a canyon. As he eliminated his escape options one by one through the days, Aron faced the full horror of his predicament: By the time any possible search and rescue effort would begin, he'd most probably have died of dehydration, if a flash flood didn't drown him before that.

What does one do in the face of almost certain death? Using the video camera from his pack, Aron began recording his grateful good-byes to his family and friends all over the country, thinking back over a life filled with adventure, and documenting a last will and testament with the hope that someone would find it. (For their part, his family and friends had instigated a major search for Aron, the amazing details of which are also documented here for the first time.) The knowledge of their love kept Aron Ralston alive, until a divine inspiration on Thursday morning solved the riddle of the boulder. Aron then committed the most extreme act imaginable to save himself.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place -- a brilliantly written, funny, honest, inspiring, and downright astonishing report from the line where death meets life -- will surely take its place in the annals of classic adventure stories. ... Read more

2. Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe
by Laurence Bergreen
list price: $27.95
our price: $18.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0066211735
Catlog: Book (2003-11-01)
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Sales Rank: 1927
Average Customer Review: 4.13 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Ferdinand Magellan's daring circumnavigation of the globe in the sixteenth century was a three-year odyssey filled with sex, violence, and amazing adventure. Now in Over the Edge of the World, acclaimed author Laurence Bergreen, interweaving a variety of candid, first-person accounts, some previously unavailable in English, brings to life this groundbreaking and majestic tale of discovery that changed many long-held views about the world and the way explorers would henceforth navigate its oceans.

In 1519 Magellan and his fleet set sail from Seville, Spain, to find a water route to the Spice Islands in Indonesia, where the most sought-after commodities -- cloves, pepper, and nutmeg -- flourished. Most important, they were looking for a passageway, a strait, through the great landmass of the Americas that would lead them to these fabled islands. Laurence Bergreen takes readers on board with Magellan and his crew as they explore, navigate, mutiny, suffer, and die across the seas. He also recounts the many unusual sexual practices the crew experienced, from orgies in Brazil to bizarre customs in the South Pacific. With a fleet of five ships and more than two hundred men, they had set out in search of the Spice Islands. Three years later they returned with an abundance of spices from their intended destination, but with just one ship carrying eighteen emaciated men. They suffered starvation, disease, and torture, and many died, including Magellan, who was violently killed in a fierce battle.

A man of great tenacity, cunning, and courage, Magellan was full of contradictions. He was both heroic and foolish, insightful yet blind, a visionary whose instincts outran his ideals. Ambitious to a fault and not above using torture and murder to maintain control of his ships and sailors, he survived innumerable natural hazards in addition to several violent mutinies aboard his own fleet -- and it took no less than the massed forces of fifteen hundred men to kill him.

This is the first time in nearly half a century that anyone has attempted to narrate the complete story of Magellan's unprecedented circumnavigation of the globe -- to tell this truly gripping and profoundly important story of heroism, discovery, and disaster. A voyage into history, a tour of the world emerging from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance, an anthropological account of tribes, languages, and customs unknown to Europeans, and a chronicle of a desperate grab for commercial and political power, Over the Edge of the World is a captivating tale that rivals the most exciting thriller fiction.

... Read more

Reviews (31)

4-0 out of 5 stars detailed, vivid, interestingly digressive
Mention Magellan and most will tell you he's that guy that sailed around the world. There their knowledge ends, or such as it is, since as Bergreen reminds us in wonderful detail, it was some of Magellan's crew that actually sailed around the world while the majority of it, along with Magellan himself, actually only survived part of the trip.
Packed with historical detail supplemented by first person accounts and side stories that some will find of equal or surpassing interest and others might find too digressive, Bergreen gives us a satisfyingly full look at the man and the journey.
The focus for the first three-quarters of the book is of course on Magellan. His early life history is quickly covered, enough to inform us of his abilities and motivations without bogging the reader down in unnecessary detail or too much psychohistory ("rejected by his father at age six, young Magellan turned to the sea to prove . . . "). The details start to come in Magellan's early attempts to convince his native Portugal to sponsor a journey to the Spice Islands and accumulate even more fully once he takes his leave for Spain and the planning for the trip begins in earnest.
The trip itself is covered in sharp and vivid detail--the political in-fighting, the mutual antagonisms of class and country aboard ship, multiple mutiny attempts, successful and not-so-succesful contacts with natives, and of course the nautical travails themselves--deathly storms,a myriad of navigational obstacles and pursuing Portugese. Not to mention the fact that the entire trip was based on an idea that the world was much, much smaller than it in fact turned out to be.
Most of the trip is seen through the lens of Magellan, and while a clear fan of Magellan, Bergreen is also unafraid to criticize his many errors with regard to ship policy, to politics, to contact with the natives. Magellan comes across as a complex all-too human figure rather than an icon or simple villain. Brilliant at times and amazingly stupid at others, he never fails to hold our attention. Other important figures in the crew are offered similar respect with regard to the fullness of their portrayals.
Beside the journey's details, the reader is treated to digressions into royal relationships, international maneuvering, the importance of spices to sixteenth century economies, the running battle for economic and nautical supremacy between Spain and Portugal, and maybe most fascinating of all, a brief history of the Chinese Treasure Fleet. While some might think Bergreen goes into too much detail here, other might wish for more. I personally fell somewhere in between, able to live with less on the royal personages and wanting more on the spice trade itself (those who feel the same way could do worse than turn to Nathaniel's Nutmeg for more on the topic)as well as on the Treasure Fleet.
I thought at times Bergreen could have left the "European" perspective a bit more, giving us a more full glimpse at the journey from the other end of the spectrum. I also could have done with more frequent use of maps throughout the book to have a more immediate and visual sense of Magellan's progress (or lack thereof). While I felt the lack of both several times, these flaws were relatively minor and only detracted somewhat from the work as a whole. Money, lust, greed, politics, mutiny, pride, betrayal, tragic accidents, man versus nature, battles, shipwrecks, castaways, man versus man, heroism and cowardice, man versus himself. The book has it all, with the added luxury of being true. Well-recommended history.

5-0 out of 5 stars great account of one of the legendary journeys
Laurence Bergreen provides a deep look at Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan's sixteenth century quest that led to the first known navigation of the world. This journey is a pivotal point in how Europeans viewed the world as people realized that not only will one not fall off the globe, but that Europe is not the epicenter of the orb. Mr. Bergreen followed the ill-fated journey through what is now the Straits of Magellan at the tip of South America and uses satellite images to further enhance the trek. Of interest to historical buffs is the daily journal that encompasses known research from around the globe. This includes sailor Albo's log and the comments of scholar sailor Pigafetta. The author debunks several modern day myths such as Magellan's mission was not go around the world, but to find a water route to the Spice Islands; and that the voyage was not glorious but brutal and filled with tragedy and misfortunes including the Captain having died in the Philippines. Magellan never made it. The trek took three years with only one ship with eighteen survivors making it back to Spain.

This is a great account of one of the legendary journeys of history. Supplemented by maps, inserts, and first hand accounts, readers join on the harrowing trek that proved once and for all that the world is round. No one will feel over the edge with this great look at the "Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe" by Magellan and his crew.

Harriet Klausner

5-0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down!
Extraordinary! A great read. It has found a special place in my 'special' books place on the bookshelf!

4-0 out of 5 stars very entertaining
At one point in Laurence Bergreen's narrative he points out that the maps Magellan's armada relied on had long since become useless. This pretty much sums up the courage, adventure, and excitement encountered in this beautifully written book. Magellan pitched his idea to seek a water route to the spice islands by sailing west until he reached the east to two kings. After his own sovereign, the king of Portugal, refused him, Magellan boldy defected and secured the support of the king of Spain. Bergreen does a great job of putting the voyage into historical context, without overindulging in tangential details. This is the rare history book which educates and entertains.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Incredible Journey and an Excellent Book!
I rarely give books a 5 star rating, but this one certainly deserves it. The book gives full account of Magellan's circumnavigation of the globe, in all its horrifying and glorious details. While it is clear that the writer is a staunch Magellan admirer, he does not hesitate to criticize Magellan's style of leadership, the Captain's over-inflated ego or the needless risks he took (one of which ultimately resulted in his death).

Reading this book, I found myself transported into 16th century Europe, an era full of intrigue, magic and of casual disregard for human life. The book was absolutely captivating and I was not able to put it down. From my perspective, the most interesting thing about the story is that while today Magellan is recognized as a hero and as one of the most important explorers of all time, in his day Magellan received no recognition and was the target of suspicion and hatred.

For the most part, Bergreen's writing style is fluid and easy to read, however at times it is a bit too flowery for my taste. The book also suffers from a shortage of illustrations and maps which could have been instructive. For example, an illustration of Magellan's ships, the weapons and armor of the era and current pictures of some of the main locations involved, would all have been nice. Nevertheless, I highly recommend this book for any fan of popular history books. ... Read more

3. Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage
by Alfred Lansing
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 078670621X
Catlog: Book (1999-03-01)
Publisher: Carroll & Graf Publishers
Sales Rank: 1174
Average Customer Review: 4.79 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

'A thrilling reading experience! One of the greatest adventure stories of our times' - New York Times Book Review. In 1914 Ernest Shackleton and a crew of 27 men, sailed for the South Atlantic on the 'Endurance' with the object of crossing the Antarctic over land. In October 1915, still half a continent away from their intended base, the ship was trapped, then crushed in ice. For five months Shackleton and his men, drifting on ice packs, were castaways in one of the world's most savage regions. This gripping book based on firsthand accounts of crew members, describes how the men survived, living together in camps on the ice for 17 months, how they were attacked by sea leopards, had to kill their beloved dogs whom they could no longer feed, and suffered disease with no medicines (an operation to amputate the foot of one member of the crew was carried out on the ice). Their extraordinary indefatigability and their lasting civility towards one another in the most adverse conditions shines through. ... Read more

Reviews (332)

5-0 out of 5 stars An Antidote for the Age of Whining and Self-Absorption
Everything that defines courage and leadership for our age and any other is within the 280 pages of this wonderful book. For nearly two years, in conditions of constant zero and below cold, freezing wet, and often hunger, Ernest Shackleton kept all 27 men who sailed with him on the Endurance alive to eventually return to the England they left on the verge of World War I. That single-minded devotion to his men should make this book required reading for every would-be politician and corporate executive before he dares ask for the faith, trust and respect of those he would lead.

Lansing dedicated the book "In appreciation for whatever it is that makes men accomplish the impossible." He wisely and without flourish often lets the men's own words -- through the journals that many of them kept at the time and in interviews forty years later -- tell their extraordinary story, each stage of which reads more harrowing than the last. On an expedition that would have attempted to cross the Antarctic on foot (a feat not accomplished until four decades later), the Endurance is trapped in pack ice before it can reach shore. Shackleton's perhaps foolhardy original goal thus turns to keeping his men alive until they can be rescued. After ten months locked in the drifting pack, the Endurance is crushed and the men forced to abandon her for an ice floe, then several weeks later a smaller floe still. Eventually they take to three boats to reach forlorn Elephant Island from which Shackleton takes a skeleton crew of five and in a 22 foot open boat navigates the enormous seas of Drake's Passage to South Ascension Island. Once there he only (only!) has uncharted glaciers to cross to reach the whaling station on the other side of the island from which rescue of the Elephant Island castaways is eventually launched. The only other crossing of South Georgian Island by foot at the time Lansing wrote in 1959 occurred on a "easier" route with equipment and time. Shackleton had neither, only a fifty foot piece of rope, a carpenter's adze, and the knowledge that to stop moving was to invite death by freezing. At journey's end, to the astonished manager of the whaling factory, he says simply, "My name is Shackleton." I would have liked to have known him and all his men.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Amazing True Life Adventure Story
I purchased this book for my husband, never intending on reading it myself, but after his raves and recommendations I finally picked it up, and read it with great relish from page 1 to the end. This is surely one of the greatest true life adventure stories of all time. Even though I knew the eventual outcome of this survival tale, I was kept completely captivated by the events as they unfolded, and the almost unbelievable conditions that these men faced. Lansing's well written book presents the facts in a story form that flows easily from event to event. I purchased the illustrated edition, and the wonderful photos were well worth the extra cost. Hurley's photos illustrated the book in a way that no words could, and I found myself frequently turning back to review them.

5-0 out of 5 stars Even knowing the ending, it's a page turner
I'm a fan of survivalist accounts such as "Seven Years in Tibet," and "In the Heart of the Sea." And I loved this true account of the voyage/survival of Shackleton's crew in the Antarctic.

Asking friends and relatives if they've read it, I've heard, "I started it, but I didn't want to see everyone die!" So here's the *spoiler...nobody dies! *

The capacity of the human body to survive and of the human brain to figure out how to do it never ceases to amaze me.

Lansing's account ingeniously pieces together journals of the men involved and includes riveting details without ever being too gory. Even knowing the ending, it's a page turner. I've heard that this is the most involving of all the accounts published...coming across more like a story and less a documentary.

The images of the men on the ice have completely captivated me...the sounds and the movement. Be prepared to grab a blanket and a snack as you read (something not made of penguin)'ll feel like you're there.

5-0 out of 5 stars ICY Adventure
this book is about how you SHOULD live!
Go for it!

5-0 out of 5 stars Warning: You will not be able to put it down.
I agree with many others this must be one of the greatest survival stories ever told. If you have read the The Longest Walk and found it to be a page turner you will not go wrong buying Endurance. And we know for sure that Endurance is all true. ... Read more

4. Wind, Sand and Stars
by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
list price: $17.00
our price: $11.56
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0151970874
Catlog: Book (1992-10-15)
Publisher: Harcourt
Sales Rank: 7496
Average Customer Review: 4.29 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Recipient of the Grand Prix of the Académie Française, Wind, Sand and Stars captures the grandeur, danger, and isolation of flight. Its exciting account of air adventure, combined with lyrical prose and the spirit of a philosopher, makes it one of the most popular works ever written about flying. Translated by Lewis Galantière.
... Read more

Reviews (21)

5-0 out of 5 stars Aviator, Poet & Philosopher
Saint-Exupery disappeared in North Africa in 1943 while flying reconnaissance flights for the American forces. After reading Wind, Sand and Stars one has a sense that this writer/philosopher, who is probably most well known for his fable The Little Prince, was well prepared for his life to end in this way.

In the opening lines of the original French version Saint-Exupery writes:
"The earth teaches us more about ourselves than all the books.
Because it resists us. Man discovers himself when he measures
himself against the obstacle"

Wind, Sand and Stars is intensely autobiographical as it tells us of this man's adventures from his beginnings as a pilot with the air mail service over France, Spain and North Africa before World War I, through to his musings as an observer of the Spanish Civil War. But far more than an adventurer, Saint-Exupery writes like a poet and has the heart of a philosopher. This wonderful book (a credit to the translator from the original French) has incredibly rich descriptive passages in which he lays out for the reader the details observed in the natural world and the response that these evoke in his mind, heart and soul.

In one section of the book (which a reader familiar with The Little Prince cannot help but conclude was inspirational for that work) Saint-Exupery describes at length his near-death experience after crashing in the Libyan desert, and wandering for days without water or hope:
"Apart from your suffering, I have no regrets. All in all, it has been
a good life. If I got free of this I should start right in again. A man
cannot live a decent life in cities, and I need to feel myself live. I
am not thinking of aviation. The aeroplane is a means, not an end.
One doesn't risk one's life for a plane any more than a farmer ploughs
for the sake of the plough. But the aeroplane is a means of getting
away from towns and their book-keeping and coming to grips with

Wind, Sand and Stars is not an easy read. But for those with patience and an interest (in a phrase from The Little Prince) in "listening with the heart", here is an insight to one man's struggle to understand and articulate the sacredness and greatness of human life.

5-0 out of 5 stars A classic of aviation and adventure literature
An absolutely brilliant work. Keep in mind that many of the bad reviews here were for a different version/translation of this book. This one is almost twice as long and sticks far better to the author's orginal work.

This collection of stories is the perfect bedtime reading. You can finish off each story in an hour or so and drift to sleep with dreams of adventure and travel. The author relates the early days of air travel, when the pilots were quite often taking their lives in their own hands each time they took flight. Crash landings in the Sahara were part of job, and rather commonplace for those daring pilots that dared to carry mail and supplies over the great desert.

The author writes in a simple and magical prose that carries all readers to the co-pilot seat on these amazing true adventures.

It is rare to find an individual who lived such an amazing life as Saint-Exupery, and rarer still to find one who could write about their experiences with such clarity, beauty and detail.

Highly recommended. A great treasure of literature.

1-0 out of 5 stars For adolescent romantics
Perhaps the translation was bad? After all, the book won a big prize in France. But for me the prose was pedestrian when not purple. The tone was basically puffery for being a pilot. This is the sort of book that would likely excite a schoolboy or girl who is full of romance for adventure. But not for the mature.

5-0 out of 5 stars I loved it.
It was sometimes slow, sometimes pretentious and not a very long book at all. I don't really know what I liked about it...
It's just one of those warm fuzzy feeling books i guess.
A view of the world from an author who loved life and felt pity for those who couldn't. He was a good story teller. He had a childish romantic view of the world which is part of the charm.
I think if you can't identify with him, then you won't like the story.

2-0 out of 5 stars Was Very Boring
I thought the book was horrible cuz it was nothing that i thought was exciting and also cuz it was very hard to read i hated it but that is my opinion but everyone i asked said they thought the same thing i just said!!! ... Read more

5. Ada Blackjack : A True Story of Survival in the Arctic
by Jennifer Niven
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786868635
Catlog: Book (2003-11-12)
Publisher: Hyperion
Sales Rank: 19061
Average Customer Review: 4.76 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

From the author of The Ice Master comes the remarkable true story of a young Inuit woman who survived six months alone on a desolate, uninhabited Arctic island.

In September 1921, four young men and Ada Blackjack, a diminutive 25-year-old Eskimo woman, ventured deep into the Arctic in a secret attempt to colonize desolate Wrangel Island for Great Britain. Two years later, Ada Blackjack emerged as the sole survivor of this ambitious polar expedition. This young, unskilled woman -- who had headed to the Arctic in search of money and a husband -- conquered the seemingly unconquerable north and survived all alone after her male companions had perished. Following her triumphant return to civilization, the international press proclaimed her the female Robinson Crusoe. But whatever stories the press turned out came from the imaginations of reporters: Ada Blackjack refused to speak to anyone about her horrific two years in the Arctic. Only on one occasion -- after charges were published falsely accusing her of causing the death of one her companions -- did she speak up for herself.

Jennifer Niven has created an absorbing, compelling history of this remarkable woman, taking full advantage of the wealth of first-hand resources about Ada that exist, including her never-before-seen diaries, the unpublished diaries from other primary characters, and interviews with Ada's surviving son. Ada Blackjack is more than a rugged tale of a woman battling the elements to survive in the frozen north -- it is the story of a hero. ... Read more

Reviews (21)

5-0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book
I was lucky enough to sneak a peek at an advanced copy of Niven's book, Ada Blackjack, and found myself swept away by this riveting story about an Inuit woman who was the lone survivor of a grueling expedition. If you are tired of the Arctic genre, don't despair-- this transcends Arctic adventure. Although part of it is set in the Arctic, it is really the story about an amazing, extraordinary woman and her journey to survive, both in the ice and in civilization. I was a fan of Niven's first book, The Ice Master, and am even more of a fan now. Her prose is immediate, accessible, gripping, and skilled, and I love the way she weaves a story, making this reader forget he is receiving a history lesson as, all the while, he is speeding to the last page, desperate to see how it ends.

4-0 out of 5 stars Worthy follow up to the ICE MASTER
I had read the ICE MASTER by Jennifer Niven when it was first published and found it a remarkably well written and compelling narrative of a strange arctic expedition lead by strange and misguided Vilhjalmur Stefansson. The story of the Karluk getting trapped in the ice and drifting north of Siberia to remote Wangel Island is gripping, as is the miracle of who dies and survives. And now Jennifer Niven has written a kind of sequel or continuation of the story as the strange Mr. Stefansson sends four explorers back to Wangel island to live and settle so the island can be claimed by the British or Canadians (who want nothing to do with the expedition). Strange as it seems one of the survivors of the Karluk, Fred Maurer is one of these four. Joining the expedition is Ada Blackjack, an Inuit Eskimo woman they hire to sew clothing for them while living on Wangel Island. This second volume is told though Ada Blackjack's life story and introduces us to wide ranging cast of characters, the expeditions relatives, Mr. Harold Noice who leads a rescue mission and his mad wife Florence who's paranoia leads to lies and the undoing of Noice and Ada Blackjacks reputation. If this all sounds a bit like an arctic soap opera, it is of course, and the story is not as exciting a read as the ICE MASTER. But anyone who loved that volume as much as I did is sure to enjoy the complete irony of this return exposition and Ada Blackjack's
Unusual life story.

4-0 out of 5 stars Heart-wrenching heroics of an Inuit woman
Ada Blackjack reads like a documentary and can be a bit dry at times as it really tells the greater story of the doomed Wrangel Island Expedition of the Arctic. But the deeper story of Ada Blackjack, the lone survivor of the expedition, is riveting. Her simple faith and love for her son gives her the strength to endure unimaginable hardship. This woman should not be forgotten, nor should the folly of the men who pioneered the expedition go unremembered. Kudos to author Niven.

5-0 out of 5 stars Spend the jack to buy this book!
I havn't even finished the book (about 3/4 through it) but I am so impressed by the writer's style, and the general interest of the subject, that I am compelled to recommend it highly. This is one of those books I just can't wait to pick up again. The writer's style is so concise, logical, and flowing that the story moves along effortlessly. Niven has obviously taken a huge amount of information and distilled it skillfully into a lean narrative. Buy it! I am a lover of the adventure/survival genre, particularly as regards the Arctic, and this book is one of the good ones!

5-0 out of 5 stars a worthwhile read
If you like inspirational stories, this is a great one. Ada Blackjack is an amazing woman, every inch a hero, even though she is also a flawed, fallible person. That makes her even more likable and easy to identify with. I highly recommend this book to anyone craving a good story, a good adventure, or inspiration. I will think twice about complaining about the mundane daily details of my life now, after reading what Ada and her colleagues endured. ... Read more

6. Alive : The Story of the Andes Survivors (Avon Nonfiction)
by Piers Paul Read
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 038000321X
Catlog: Book (1975-05-01)
Publisher: Avon
Sales Rank: 19183
Average Customer Review: 4.55 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

On October 12, 1972, a plane carrying a team of young rugby players crashed into the remote, snow-peaked Andes. Out of the forty-five original passengers and crew, only sixteen made it off the mountain alive. For ten excruciating weeks they suffered deprivations beyond imagining, confronting nature head-on at its most furious and inhospitable. And to survive, they were forced to do what would have once been unthinkable ...

This is their story -- one of the most astonishing true adventures of the twentieth century.

... Read more

Reviews (126)

3-0 out of 5 stars great story... average novel
Alive is the remarkable story of a Rugby team whose plane wrecks in the Andes mountains, taking about half the lives of the passengers. The powerful story portrays excellent examples of teamwork and perseverance in the fight for survival. Though this is an interesting read, I found the authors style to be very unorganized and boring. The introduction of the story, tells about the history of rugby and its existence in this teams home country. It is very boring and not really relevant. Following this dull intro, the book then takes you on a wild ride through a exulting, horrifying plane crash. This leaves many of the passengers dead and injured. After this I found the book very anticlimactic. Though it was very interesting and there were parts of the story that were exciting and very well written, I found that the author added too much dull information which could have easily been left out. The end result appears to be a book not meant for the thrill seekers, but instead, a shelf ridden book, anxiously awaiting it's intermittent rainy day use.

5-0 out of 5 stars epic story
I've read this book several times over the years and it is remains a gripping story. This isn't a TV Survivor game where people compete in contests, eat rice and vote each other off until someone wins the jackpot. In "Alive" a group of students, their friends and family are trapped in some of the most inhospitable terrain and weather conditions in the world. Only a few scraps of food, nothing but snow surrounding them, many of them grievously injured and not one piece of survival equipment. And no one is "voted off". If you don't survive, you die there. One survivor sees his wife die in an avalanche, another loses his mother and sister, others lose cousins. The oldest survivor is only 33, the youngest is 19.

Of 45 who left on the trip, only 16 survived and a few of them were close to dying when they were rescued. It is simply a fantasic story of ingenuity, faith, brotherhood, and courage. The struggle of Canessa and Parrado to climb the mountain with no mountaineering gear in a desperate bid to try and save the others is just amazing.

There was an excellent companion documentary made in conjunction with the movie version of "Alive" and it is full of interviews with the survivors. I later read that several of the survivors made an emotional trip back to the crash site and to the mass grave of those who died. What a moment that must have been.

"Alive" is an inspirational book and the story of the sixteen will remain with you forever.

4-0 out of 5 stars An inspiring and thought-provoking true story
I read this book many years ago, but the story has stuck with me all this time. It is both inspiring and thought-provoking. The reader is inspired by Nando Parrado who will do whatever it takes to escape the Andes to Chile (I still remember that name despite reading this so long ago). We are also inspired by other characters in the book who lend a part to the survival.

But it is thought-provking as a character study as the reader wonders how they would react in that situation. As the group is short on supplies and definately not clothed to handle the temperatures they are facing, everyone reacts differently. The aspect of the book (and later the movie) that has gotten the most attention is the decision to eat the flesh of deceased passengers for survival. It is something every reader will consider - not only how far would you go to survive, but what would you want to be done with your body in that situation.

Although you may know the basics of what happened, the reality of the situation will only sink in when you are wrapped in the story by the author. While he is able to make you feel like you are really there, then you will be able to feel truly inspired by Nando Parrado, and really think about the situation and the passengers' decisions. This book is still a must-read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Powerful Story of Survival
"Alive" is a fascinating tale of survival that has acquired a notoriety because of something that happened during that period of survival. That notoriety is a shame because it detracts from the greater story of how so many individuals could have made through what had happened to them. For those totally uninitiated to the story, a plane load of Uruguayan rugby players (and family members) goes down in the mountains of the Andes en route to their game in Chile. All efforts to locate the downed plane were unsuccessful and the search eventually is called off. However, many of the passengers have survived and are essentially, in good health. They gather together their resources which were limited because the flight was relatively short and thus the on-board supplies were short as well. Things happen as the survivors await the rescue that doesn't come and the most infamous thing that happens is that many of the survivors take to eating flesh of their departed. Ultimately, in what is the most spectacular event of the book, a couple of men decide to reach civiliztion on their own (scenes from "Lost Horizon" come to mind) and they actually succeed. This leads to the resue of the others as the whole world discovers their amazing survival. They also discover one of the not-so-secret means of their survival; their canabalism. A variety of sleazy accounts in print and film sought to depict that shocking aspect of an otherwise amazing survival story. Fortunately "Alive" (both the book and, later, the film) rise above that to bring the real story. This account is one you won't be able to put down until you've turned the last page.

3-0 out of 5 stars Very real book.
This is the story of a rugby team whos plane crashes in the Andes Mountains. This book shows how most of the team survived and even got rescued. A couple of the hardships that are faced are an avalanche and running out of food, which makes them resort to cannibalism.

The story was a good read, but the genre is not my type. This book did not click with me. Read this book if you want a real and graphic story because that is what it is. ... Read more

7. A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer : The Life of William Dampier
by Diana Preston, Michael Preston
list price: $27.00
our price: $17.82
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802714250
Catlog: Book (2004-04-01)
Publisher: Walker & Company
Sales Rank: 5817
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Far more than a pirate story
Why should this wonderfully written book not only be read by those who admire Captain Cook, or who just enjoy seafarer and pirate stories? Answer: the Prestons' book offers much more. In Dampier, the Prestons have revived a man who found his bliss and passion in observing nature. And, who, in the company of primitive and brutal sailors, under exhausting conditions, hunger and illness, never ceased studying, and reflecting on, his observations of nature. His greatest good was not money or jewels - it was his extensive notes that he saved through ship wreckage and other incredible hardships of a twelve-year long journey around the world. Preceding Cook, Banks and Darwin by nearly a century, Dampier may be considered the first in this lineage. The book describes the man and what became of him - a person who started out to realize his bliss, not helped by a cozy grant or sponsorship but as a semi-legalized pirate. Thus, "The Pirate of Exquisite Mind" is a book for those who enjoy a meticulously researched, well-told story, but especially for those who admire the powers that develop from a deeply internalized vocation. Dampier wouldn't have survived without that.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dampier's amazing life ably told
On the heels of her seminal work on the Lusitania, Diana Preston (this time with her husband as co-author) has brought back to life the extraordinary pirate/naturalist William Dampier.
This story would not work as fiction as it would be dismissed as unrealistic. Dampier circumnavigated the world alongside pirates engaged in plundering, raping and killing. During his journeys Dampier found time to record observations of flora and fauna, animals of all descriptions, currents and native peoples. He was also a geographer and surveyor.
It may seem an understatement to say that Dampier was a man ahead of his times. Not only did Dampier take copious notes; he took good ones. Dampier was a dedicated and skilled "reporter". He was the first European to make observations of various animals, plants and places, coining a few words and terms to boot. His sensitivy towards and respect for indigenous people was in sharp contrast to the prevailing racist attitudes common among most 17th century Europeans.
Dampier's travels took him to the Caribbean, Virginia, Central America, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand Indonesia, and the Philippines, just to name a few locales. His pirating days eventually gave way to more legitimate if no less risky adventures, including serving the British navy. It was in his role as central leader of expeditions that we finally see a man who, like the rest of us, is flawed. Dampier became, not surprisingly, a noted author whose observations influenced generations to come, perhaps most notably Captain James Cook and Charles Darwin.
Happily, the Prestons are up to the task of telling Dampier's story. Their account of Dampier's life is richly detailed, paying the proper respect to his scientific discoveries and observations while spinning exciting yarns of pirates at their swashbuckling best. The Prestons make a valuable addition to the growing body of work depicting sea life in days of yore. The harsh and filthy reality of shipboard is laid bare and the reader is treated to an account of a shipboard cure for constipation which will leave one squirming.
This is a thoroughly entertaining story and an important book in understanding both the Age of Exploration and the Englightenment. One eagerly awaits the Preston's next work.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Book of Exquisite Value
Finally, Diana and Michael Preston have rescued this lonely castaway of history. "A Pirate of Exquisite Mind" is the first thorough, contemporary biography of Dampier. Handsome, enigmatic, controversial in life and a virtual shadow since his death almost 300 years ago, Dampier has until now never been properly accorded the recognition he deserves. But he is a quintessential anti-hero, a man who could write expertly of ocean winds and currents, and who witnessed tortured, dying Spanish prisoners being thrown into those currents.

There have been other biographies of Dampier, but this is the first that discusses his life as an extension of the customs and mores of his time. When Dampier takes the mysterious and elusive "Judith" as his wife, the Prestons devote several paragraphs to discussion of a typical marriage ceremony, as well as the very liberal sexual attitudes of late 17th century London. This liberality extends as well to the buccaneers, many of whom maintained homosexual relationships, in addition to sharing their women. Additionally, the Prestons get inside Dampier's mind, speculating on the motivations that compelled him to do certain "unsavory" things, though which Dampier was understandably reticent to reveal in his books. For instance, when Dampier makes the crucial decision to follow his companions in joining his first buccaneer expedition in 1679, Dampier wrote that since he was "left alone...I was more easily persuaded to go with them too." But the Prestons are keen enough to recognize that "Dampier probably knew in advance whom he would meet at Negril Bay - a favorite buccaneer haunt - even if he did not admit this in his book." Their recognition of Dampier's hidden motives provides a narrative flow that was missing in Dampier's own writings, adding color and connecting the disparate episodes in his life.

The Prestons relied heavily on Dampier's own writings (most of what we know about Dampier comes from his books). But in addition to reading about where Dampier voyaged, they traced Dampier's exhaustive journeys around the globe (albeit under more modern circumstances) to give their biography both flavor and authenticity. They also plundered the vaults of the British Library, Royal Society, and public record offices for original sources, and painstakingly made comparisons of Dampier's massive draft manuscript with his later published work. Again, this exactitude and depth of research separates this biography from any that have come before. We not only learn about the incidents of Dampier's life, but we get a glimpse at his motivations and thought processes.

We also learn about the society in which Dampier lived. We learn the differences between privateering, buccaneering, and piracy. How did late 17th-century London view buccaneering? Not too favorably, which is one of the reasons why Dampier's legacy was tainted early on. There was certainly a dark side to Dampier. He was a poor leader, clashed openly with his men, and there were accusations of beatings. He failed in a later mission to circumnavigate Australia, his ship floundered off Ascension Island, and he was eventually court-martialed. A later privateering expedition headed by Dampier ended in disaster. On his last expedition, he was relegated to the role of navigator. Like so many other contradictory giants of history, he died in obscurity, and his burial spot is unknown.

William Dampier was the only "pirate" to have had his portrait made. When the Prestons were in the midst of their research, they visited the British Library to view the original painting done by Thomas Murray in the 1690s. Since then, so few people have been interested in Dampier that the curator at the library had to actually dig out the painting from the basement and remove the dust. If there is any justice in this world, the publication of "A Pirate of Exquisite Mind" will ensure that the portrait of William Dampier remains on full display for the world to see.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Real life Pirate's Tale with lots of Swashbuckling Action
Within these pages is a wealth of compelling information about a fascinating bygone age. William Dampier was a scientist, pioneer and writer whose influence is still being felt today, despite the fact that he is less remembered than many of the other bold thinkers of his time.

Yet what got me the most excited in this book by the Prestons was the in-depth exploration of the pirate world. This book provides riveting insight into a world that previously seemed mythical: the pirates of the Caribbean. The Prestons dramatically show how these swashbuckling societies developed, functioned and crumbled, as well as the economic and political forces that brought about these events.

This is the inspirational story of a man who pushed himself -- striving to go beyond his time's intellectual and geographical limits.

5-0 out of 5 stars Long overdue and an Exquisite Book
If you have an interest in the buccaneers, or in the expansion of the British Empire, or in natural history, or seafaring in the days of sail, this is required reading. If you are interested in the world when a voyage could take years and many men never came back, a world where the broadside and the sword were master, this book is for you. It's entertaining, educational, inspirational, and has a sweep seldom found. I wish I could rate the book higher than 5 stars. Dampier I would rate ten. ... Read more

8. American Traveler: The Life and Adventures of John Ledyard, the Man Who Dreamed of Walking the World
by James Zug
list price: $25.00
our price: $16.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0465094058
Catlog: Book (2005-03-30)
Publisher: Basic Books
Sales Rank: 13768
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The astounding story of the eighteenth-century New Englander who traveled farther on four continents than anyone else in his day and who pioneered an American archetype: the restless explorer.

Called a "man of genius" by his close friend Thomas Jefferson, John Ledyard lived, by any standard, a remarkable life. In his thirty-eight years, he accompanied Captain Cook on his last voyage; befriended Jefferson, Lafayette, and Tom Paine in Paris; was the first American citizen to see Alaska, Hawaii, and the west coast of America; and set out to find the source of the Niger by traveling from Cairo across the Sahara. His greatest dream, concocted with Jefferson, was to travel alone around the world and cross the American continent from the Pacific Northwest to the Atlantic. Catherine the Great dashed that dream when she had him arrested in deepest Siberia and escorted back to the Polish border. Ledyard wrote the definitive account of Cook's last voyage and his death at the hands of Hawaiian islanders, and formed a company with John Paul Jones that launched the American fur trade in the Pacific Northwest.

Before the Revolution, Americans by and large didn't travel great distances, rarely venturing west of the Appalachians. Ledyard, with his boundless enthusiasm and wide-ranging intellect, changed all that. In lively prose, journalist James Zug tells the riveting story of this immensely influential character -a Ben Franklin with wanderlust-a uniquely American pioneer. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars The First World Citizen
I've been fascinated by Ledyard since I first encountered him, in 1989, at a University of Washington history lecture.At the time I was struck by the fact that I'd never heard of him before.How could this guy have been forgotten?Poking around the stacks in the library led me to Sparks' and Watrous' work, but I couldn't believe that somebody wasn't out there researching and writing about Ledyard.I've been poking around ever since. At last, Zug has delivered the biography I've been waiting for.

American Traveler serves as an outstanding introduction to one of the most fascinating figures in American history.Zug does a wonderful job describing Ledyard's relationships with movers and shakers of the late 18th century (particularly Jefferson), as well as his role as a catalyst behind the eventual expansion of American power.However, the real strength of the book is Zug's portrait of Ledyard the world traveler--a guy on the road who, though frustrated by the restrictions of time and petty bureaucracy, takes a genuine interest in the people he encounters.Yes--Ledyard was a spectacular failure as a businessman, but he understood something that many (apparently including P.J. O'Rourke) do not: traveling isn't about arriving at your destination--it's all about the road trip and the people you meet along the way.In this sense, there has never been a more spectacular success than John Ledyard. ... Read more

9. Beyond the Deep: The Deadly Descent Into the World's Most Treacherous Cave
by Monte Paulsen, William Stone, Barbara am Ende
list price: $26.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0446527092
Catlog: Book (2002-07)
Publisher: Warner Books
Sales Rank: 60011
Average Customer Review: 4.31 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The Huautla in Mexico is the deepest cave in the Western Hemisphere, possibly the world. Shafts reach skyscraper-depths, caverns are stadium-sized, and sudden floods can drown divers in an instant. With a two-decade obsession, William Stone and his 44-member team entered the sinkhole at Sotano de San Augustin. The first camp settled 2,328 feet below ground in a cavern where headlamps couldn't even illuminate the walls and ceiling. The second camp teeter-ed precariously above an underground canyon where two subterranean rivers collided. But beyond that lay the unknown territory-a flooded corridor that had blocked all previous comers, claimed a diver's life, and drove the rest of the team back. Except for William Stone and Barbara am Ende, who forged on for 18 more days, with no hope of rescue, to set the record for the deepest cave dive in the Western Hemisphere. ... Read more

Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars Further Than Beyond
At one time I was a skinnier human being and I occasionally went caving. I never learned to use equipment for vertical caving and I only went through one sump [or 'near sump' as the book would describe it] in all my years of caving. But I can tell you that being underground was one of the biggest thrills of my life, especially when it appeared that I might be entering virgin cave. Beyond The Deep by William Stone and Barbara am Ende with Monte Paulsen should convey the trials and thrills involved with caving to anyone who reads it. Beyond The Deep is an evenhanded book, addressing the concerns of all of the people involved with the 1994 effort to push the Huatla Cave System to it's deepest. I am especially glad that it doesn't suffer from the blaming I found in the book No Apparent Danger. If you like a good adventure [even if you're claustrophobic], I highly recommend Beyond The Deep.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Good Adventure Read
If you like adventure books about places that you have no intention of going yourself (as in Jon Krakauer's "Into Thin Air"), you will like this book. Like Jon's book, this book tells the story of extreme adventurers who journey into a place that most of us would not attempt to go, and find danger and success along the way.

Bill Stone is obsessed with caving, and Huautla cave system in Mexico in particular. According to the account in the book, he spends years developing a device that allows him to stay underwater far longer than traditional oxygen tanks allow, opening up the opportunity to explore caves that contain long passageways full of water.

In this expedition, his team explores a cave that is one of the deepest in the world, but most of the cave has been undiscovered due to the long passages full of water. The story is interesting, full of danger, and even has a good ending as Bill and his friend Barbara am Ende push past the water-filled sections to new discoveries deep underground.

I enjoyed this book, and it tells the straight-forward story well. However, there are side issues that are not fully explained, such as why so many team members gave up and quit before the expedition had reached it's goal. I also find myself wondering what was so great about walking through subterranian passageways that were usually filled with water. At no point did the author indicate that these passageways were beautiful or even interesting, just undiscovered. At least on the top of Everest, the view is great!

Read it anyway. You will appreicate having a dry bed at night after reading this book.

3-0 out of 5 stars I Really Wanted to Like This Book...
I really wanted to like this book but I found myself struggling to finish it. No doubt, the experience itself was immeasurably exciting / interesting, but the book was, well, kind of boring.

It could have easily been half the length and not lost much, and as another reviewer indicated, I never really got a feel for what is so great about crawling though caves. I'm sure it IS great, at least to those who are as into it as these people are, but I didn't get why or how from the book. I also found the third-person writing style a bit contrived, somehow.

If you DID like this book, I would highly recommend 'The Last Dive' which is in a similar vein but I found very exciting and extremely well written.

4-0 out of 5 stars DIVING INTO DISASTER
Fascinating book about the ultimate 'adventure' junkies-- who explore the world's most treacherous cave in Mexico. An amazing crew of people. What's so unusual is that these are divers-- deep see divers, not just guys and gals who go down into the cave on ropes or climb rocks. They call themselves CAVERS -- details make the true-life adventure come alive. What's disturbing though is that lives were lost on this expedition and the authors tend to gloss over those lost in their quest for the ultimate experiences. Cinematic and even outrageous tale of diving into disaster.

4-0 out of 5 stars What Drives Divers To Descend To Unbelievable Depths?
What is it that drives cave explorers to descend to unbelievable depths, as if they were involved in an international game of subterranean chess?

Perhaps the clues are to be found within the pages of a book entitled Beyond The Deep that chronicles the breathtaking 1994 San Agustin Expedition as told from the perspective of Bill Stone and Barbara am Ende.
Much of the information was gleaned from their logbooks, diaries, and recollections, as well as from dozens of interviews conducted by their co-author Monte Paulsen.

In 1977, 1979 and 1981 cave divers were unsuccessful in exploring the San Agustin sump or the underground tunnel that was flooded entirely with water. This sump is the deepest point in a cave known as Sistema Huautla, Oaxaca, Mexico.

Many of the difficulties were the result of using traditional equipment as well as the inability to effectively transport the supplies and gear necessary to accomplish this incredible feat.

In 1994 international exploring expert Bill Stone completed the constructing of an closed cycle life support system or as he termed it a "rebreather." This piece of apparatus was called the Mk-ll.

This would permit the cavers and divers to explore the San Agustin Sump far longer than anyone was able to accomplish in the past.

It was Stone's contention that the problem was primarily a technological challenge. Once this was overcome, the rest would fall into place.

The next step entailed the meticulous organization of the various components of the team.
There was expedition leader Stone, six dive team members, 35 support team participants and 5 members of the photo team.

These individuals wanted to "place their own boot where no one hand before." According to Stone, "every member had made enormous personal sacrifices in the pursuit of this elusive grail. They'd left family behind for a third of a year; had trained relentlessly for two years just to get there; had gone deeply into debt; and were subjecting themselves daily to physical hardships."

Why do it? Perhaps Stone sums it up when he asserts, "after so many years of struggle, he'd found the route, the secret doorway to the gaping, unexplored beyond."

One of the shortcomings of the book is the extensive use of technical jargon. The authors did indicate in the introduction that they have substituted common words for technical jargon wherever possible.

However, unfortunately, far too often I had to refer to the glossary at the back of the book to understand a paragraph or sentence. No doubt this deflated some of the suspense of the saga. ... Read more

10. Sam Patch, the Famous Jumper
by Paul E. Johnson
list price: $23.00
our price: $23.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0809083892
Catlog: Book (2003-06-25)
Publisher: Hill and Wang
Sales Rank: 435589
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The true history of a legendary American folk hero

In the 1820s, a fellow named Sam Patch grew up in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, working there (when he wasn’t drinking) as a mill hand for one of America’s new textile companies. Sam made a name for himself one day by jumping seventy feet into the tumultuous waters below Pawtucket Falls. When in 1827 he repeated the stunt in Paterson, New Jersey, another mill town, an even larger audience gathered to cheer on the daredevil they would call the “Jersey Jumper.” Inevitably, he went to Niagara Falls, where in 1829 he jumped not once but twice in front of thousands who had paid for a good view.

The distinguished social historian Paul E. Johnson gives this deceptively simple story all its deserved richness, revealing in its characters and social settings a virtual microcosm of Jacksonian America. He also relates the real jumper to the mythic Sam Patch who turned up as a daring moral hero in the works of Hawthorne and Melville, in London plays and pantomimes, and in the spotlight with Davy Crockett—a Sam Patch who became the namesake of Andrew Jackson’s favorite horse.

In his shrewd and powerful analysis, Johnson casts new light on aspects of American society that we may have overlooked or underestimated. This is innovative American history at its best.
... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Jumping into Jacksonian Democracy
If you have never heard of Sam Patch, it is because you are not living in the nineteenth century. Sam Patch was America's first celebrity daredevil, someone who made his fortune and his fame by spectacularly endangering his life, jumping from waterfalls. Paul E. Johnson, in _Sam Patch, The Famous Jumper (Hill and Wang), has not exactly brought Patch back to life. As Johnson explains, people like Patch did not have linear careers that lent their lives to being told as stories; they had episodes, not biographies. Patch only lived thirty years, and jumped professionally only for the last two of those, but he did have a wonderful career, and even some meaning within American history and sociology. Johnson has, though Patch's story, examined some details of Jacksonian America, industrialization, philosophies of art, and aspects of fame from self-endangerment and self-promotion rather than self-improvement and civic involvement. Patch was, after all, a lout and a drunkard, but it must mean something that he achieved such a level of fame that his feats could be cited by Melville, Hawthorne and Poe. Even Andrew Jackson's favorite steed was named Sam Patch.

Sam was around seven years old when he took up work in a mill; families in the early eighteenth century were being drawn to mill towns since mothers and children could easily get work. He was good at the work, and fiercely independent in the craft of "mule spinner". The independence manifested itself in his jumping as well. He learned the craft of jumping as other boys did, but when he moved to another mill town, his jumping acquired a social and political aspect that endeared him to the populace. He jumped to spite a rising industrialist in Paterson, New Jersey, and then in support of his own class when there was a dispute over how the town should celebrate the Fourth of July, and jumped again during the first labor walkout. People loved the jumps, and newspapers reported them. Patch became a working-class hero. He went on to jump into Niagara Falls twice, and finally in Rochester. On 13 November 1829, he took a plunge into the Genesee Falls, into which he had jumped successfully a week before. He was drunk, and hit the water out of control. It was months before the body was found, but respectable Americans had found a new cause to rail against; one preacher spoke of the "strange and savage curiosity" of the crowds who came to see the jumps, and another told his Sunday school class "... that any of them who had witnessed Patch's last leap would be judged guilty of murder by God."

Sam Patch could have been an emblem against the masses, but it did not work out that way. He became the subject of poetry, comic stories, and stage plays. "What the Sam Patch!" became a common way of swearing. There was a Sam Patch cigar. He has even recently been the subject of a novel. Rochester has welcomed his memory as if it were that of a favorite son, and you can buy souvenirs at Sam's Gift Patch. There are those who insist that any American Dream must be built on hard work, domestic harmony, and sobriety. Johnson's able and well-researched portrait, with its many digressions into aspects of our fledgling democracy, shows a different sort of dream and a new sort of celebrity. Americans, bless their hearts, had from the beginning a delight in one who tweaked the nose of his betters and got fame for lots of wrong reasons. ... Read more

11. Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton: A Biography
by Edward Rice
list price: $21.00
our price: $14.28
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 030681028X
Catlog: Book (2001-06)
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Sales Rank: 45401
Average Customer Review: 4.18 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"This masterpiece of history and biography turns the real-life adventures of Burton into a riveting tale...The last great word on the last great explorer of the colonial age." -Wall Street Journal.

A New York Times best seller when it was first published, Rice's biography is the gripping story of a fierce, magnetic, and brilliant man whose real-life accomplishments are the stuff of legend. Rice retraces Burton's steps as the first European adventurer to search for the source of the Nile; to enter, disguised, the forbidden cities of Mecca and Medina; and to travel through remote stretches of India, the Near East, and Africa. From his spying exploits to his startling literary accomplishments (the discovery and translation of the Kama Sutra and his seventeen-volume translation of Arabian Nights), Burton was an engrossing, larger-than-life Victorian figure, and Rice's splendid biography lays open a portrayal as dramatic, complicated, and compelling as the man himself. ... Read more

Reviews (17)

3-0 out of 5 stars Great research, poor writing
Very well researched, this book reads more like a textbook than a literary piece. One would expect more from an author of 20+ books, though laying out the vast amount of information Edward Rice has gathered is no easy task. Albeit we should pay tribute to his concern for accuracy and discussing different accounts of Burton's life, the reader is easily distracted by too many details and the author's constant digression. But if you're patient enough to get through, you'll be fascinated by the adventures of Sir Richard Burton and his erudition. A geographer, explorer, linguist, writer, soldier, diplomat and a spy, he traveled through four continents, describing in immeasurable detail the cultures, traditions and places he experienced.

Burton lived a remarkable life and this is the definitive account. If you want to go deep into his life and adventures this is the book to get. But if you're looking for some light reading or entertaining adventures, search somewhere else.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Biography...
This is by far one of the best biographies I've read in recent times. Not only is the subject matter astonishing, capturing the life of one of the most exciting figures of the 19th century, the author focuses on the man's profuse writings, thankfully leaving out the once fashionable psychoanalytic approach of interpretation when writing biography. This is the third life history I've read on Richard Burton, and it's certainly the finest written and the most thorough.

Those of you, who are not familiar with R.F. Burton, are in for a thrilling reading experience. This man, probably more so than Byron himself, is the archetypal Byronic figure of the age: a linguist, (29 languages and numerous dialects), scholar of eastern literature and religion, particularly the mystical arm of Islam, Sufi; a practicing mystic; explorer of Africa (co-discoverer of the source of the Nile); a secret agent working for her majesty during England's acquisition of India's wealth, known to historians as 'The Great Game'. He was also one of the first white men, who made the Pilgrimage to Mecca, and as Rice argues, Burton was and continued to be a practicing Muslim, therefore his pilgrimage was deeply religious as well as a journey of danger and adventure. Burton was dashing, an expert swordsman and horseman, and a prolific writer, poet and translator who rank as one of the best of his time.

Burton is known to most as one of the scholars who brought 'The Arabian Nights' to the West...he heard a lot of the tales through the Persian oral tradition; memorized them in their original language, and sat around many a camp fire in the desert, re-telling these wonderful stories to anyone who would listen. Burton was a storyteller in the truest sense. But 'The Arabian Nights' only scratches the surface of his many translations from eastern literature - 'The Kama Sutra of Vatsyaya' and 'The Perfumed Garden of the Cheikh Nefzaoui: A Manual of Arabian Erotology', to name an infamous few...

What impressed me most about Burton was his alarming intellectual curiousity, his exhaustive industry as a recorder of foreign cultures. While other 'gentleman' of his time would rather murder the wildlife to take back to their drawing rooms, to then hang on their walls, Burton preferred to sketch and write about the places and people he came across in his travels to then share with the rest of us. He was an incessant scribbler. The man's thirst for life was daunting and this magnetic soul ensured he did not waste a minute of it...

Edward Rice's ~Captain Sir Richard Frances Burton~ is the definitive biography.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, and riveting.
Rice's treatment of Burton's life is extraordinary, and the definitive biography of this man's many lives. If this were a novel the reader would find the narrative impossible. All the more to admire in this biography of one of the most unlikely, curious, and talented characters of the nineteenth century.

2-0 out of 5 stars Drier than the Sind
I read this book back-to-back with "The Unequalled Self", Claire Tomalin's biography of the 17th-century diarist Samuel Pepys. There is little connecting the two other than they are both biographies of interesting historical figures. But whereas Tomalin's book magnificently brings Pepys to life, Rice's biography of Sir Richard does a good job of mummifying his subject. That he manages to write such a sullen and lumbering screed about one of the most romantic and dashing figures of the 19th century--and surely a model for Ian Fleming's James Bond?--is remarkable. Much should have been left out, not least numerous tangential chapters on secondary characters and esoteric subjects of little interest to the casual reader. The story only becomes interesting when Burton departs for Mecca, and that's over one-hundred pages in. I was also frustrated by the photographs and sketches reproduced in the book, which are of too poor quality to be of interest or use. Maps would have been a much better idea - despite having a relatively good grasp of georgraphy I frequently lost track of Burton's peregrinations. In sum, I would probably give this book four or five stars if I was an academic searching for a historically balanced tome on Burton. But if you are a casual reader, and someone who wants to be excited and inspired by Burton's life, look elsewhere.

5-0 out of 5 stars First-class biography
What an excellent read! Price's narrative and research are wonderful. This book deserves a prominent place in the library of anyone interseted in African/Middle-eastern history. ... Read more

12. Horn of the Hunter
by Robert C. Ruark
list price: $24.95
our price: $24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1571572635
Catlog: Book (2002-09-01)
Publisher: Safari Press
Sales Rank: 286891
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

No other book can give you the feel of Africa like this one can. ... Read more

Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Writer on Safari
Robert Ruark's chronicle of his African safari in the 1950s. This is good reading for both outdoor buffs and readers of a more literary type. Ruark avoids the pitfall of turning his book into an extended article for "Field and Stream." Aside from the details of the big-game hunt, he sprinkles his narrative with recollections of his WWII combat experience, musings on the literary world of New York, books, movies about Africa, and life in America. The focal point of the book is the daily experience of fighting the African environment in the pursuit of the elusive prey. The descriptions of the wildlife are thrilling as the hunting party tracks across the primeval plains. Ruark gives full attention to the discomforts of safari life and the doubtful sanity of those who submit themselves to this type of "recreation." The killing is graphically described and not for the squeamish. Animal rights activists should steer clear of this book.

Ruark has great fun describing himself as an Ernest Hemingway "wannabe." Comparisons to Hemingway's "Green Hills of Africa" are inevitable. Ruark is more self-deprecating than Ernest Hemingway, and can see the outrageous humor of it all. The white hunter guide, Harry Selby, falls short of the Allan Quartermain ideal. Selby is afraid of snakes and scorpions, and manages to get the safari lost at least once. Just as Hemingway, Ruark takes his wife, Jenny, along on safari. She handles the discomforts very well, and doesn't wimp out.

This book won't be studied a 100 years from now in American Lit. classes, but it's diverting reading. It recalls the macho standards of a different era. Ruark's reputation has faded since his heyday in the '50s and early '60s. For those who remember, this book is an interesting footnote to his literary career. ;-)

4-0 out of 5 stars RUARK & HEMINGWAY
After reading several reviews on this famous book and much wait when I finally got this book, truly I was a little bit disappointed during reading. I had in my mind something superior than Hemingway and Capstick's works. Before this I read his later book 'Use Enough Gun' which I think is better than this one. However, when I finished, it was added in my list of to-be-re-read books. These are the books which leave an impression on you, which take you in the atmosphere of theirs and you remember the good taste of the book as of very fine things in the life.

Now I would say that Hemingway is a kind of more powerful and more hunter on this safari stuff, in the "Green Hills of Africa". His white hunter Philip Percival is not as much narrated as Herry Selby of Ruark's. Interstingly Selby is one of the pupil of Percival as Ruark is inspired by Hemingway.

I think that the Ruark has the edge of being more comic and funny. His humouress narration of his own acts and that of his companions are different then many hero-type hunters-authors, who always succeed in every crisis. His desire to shoot a Greater Kudu trophy and story of fair chase and the end of a classic picture of true hunting attitude. He was not a rifle shooter before this safari as opposed to Hemingway who was a serious hunter. One of the finest parts in this book is the episode of sand grouse shooting and Ruark's pride on his expertise in bird shooting over his white hunter Selby, who used to surprise Ruark in rifle shooting.

Collectively a very fine book on the African safari hunting in the golden era of long safaris.

3-0 out of 5 stars from another bwana
you know how they say''anticipation is sweeter than the possession'' thats what happened with me.Before buying this book I'have read the other reviwes,with no disrespect to other readers, but I think they have over done it a little.I am a long time big game hunter,what I found what is missing in this book is a thru heart of an hunter. The horn was there, but not the hunter. After reading the book, I remember more of the memsaabs hair care than the hunting adventures.I felt ,for Mr Ruark the shooting part of the safari was the most booring bit.Well that is his styl and I respect him
I just wanted to share my thoughts with rest of my bwana brothers.Still a good reading.Especially to know the great character of Mr. Selby.

5-0 out of 5 stars BEST BOOK About an African Hunting Safari
This is by far and away the BEST book I've ever read about a hunting safari in Africa. Ruark and his writing are in a class by himself. ALL the other books about him like Use Enough Gun were published after his untimely death. NONE of them compare. They are collections of articles and/or very short stories (some fiction) that collectively don't hold a candle to Horn of the Hunter. His writing makes you feel like you are beside him sharing his experiences. You will not regret buying this book. Simply the best!!

5-0 out of 5 stars It doesn't get any better than this.........
I had heard alot about this book for years and finally got around to reading it. If you enjoy high quality adventure and hunting writing, it truly does not come better than this.
Ruark takes the reader along on his (and his wife's) first African safari and makes us feel the sights, sounds, smells, adventure, boredoom, fatigue, terror etc. that he experiences as if we were there. His writing is at times witty and always interesting. A fascinating portrait of an era long gone. A great read. ... Read more

13. Passionate Nomad : The Life of Freya Stark (Modern Library (Paperback))
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375757465
Catlog: Book (2001-07-24)
Publisher: Modern Library
Sales Rank: 11647
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Freya Stark—traveler, explorer, Arabist, and woman of letters—began the extraordinary adventures that would glamorize her—and would catapult her into public life for the next sixty years—in 1927. And with the publication of The Valley of the Assassins in 1934, her legend was launched.

Leaving behind a miserable family life, Freya set out, at the age of thirty-four, to explore remote and dangerous regions of the Middle East. She was captured in 1927 by the French military police after penetrating their cordon around the rebellious Druze. She explored the mountainous territory of the mysterious Assassins of Persia, became the first woman to explore Luristan in western Iran, and followed ancient frankincense routes to locate a lost city. Admired by British officialdom, her knowledge of Middle Eastern languages and culture aided the military and diplomatic corps, for whom she conceived an effective propaganda network during WWII.

But Stark’s indomitable spirit was forged by contradictions, her high-profile wanderings often masking deep insecurities. A child of privilege, she grew up in near poverty; she longed for love, but consistently focused on the wrong men. This is a brilliant and balanced biography—filled with sheikhs, diplomats, nomad warriors and chieftains, generals, would be lovers, and luminaries. Author Jane Geniesse digs beneath the mythology to uncover a complex, quixotic, and controversial woman.

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Reviews (24)

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent biography of an English explorer.
Spending time with interesting women who are inaccessible to us in real life is one of the pleasures of a good book and Jane Fletcher Geniesse has just added to the list. The author gives us a detailed account of the life of a fearless wanderer, Freya Stark, whose 100 years on earth (1893-1993)were packed with adventures to rival the tales of the Arabian Nights. Freya, though hardly living up to the attributes of her Norse namesake (no goddess of love and beauty, she!), nevertheless conquered the Arab world by making full use of her strengths: drive, intelligence, and an extraordinary empathy for the peoples of the Middle East. Geniesse does not dismiss her shortcomings but offers good reasons for the bizarre behavior of her heroine. She also handles the historical background with grace and understanding. It was an extraordinary time, made even more so by an indomitable English woman, and the author is to be congratulated for presenting her with such skill.

4-0 out of 5 stars Passionate Nomad: The Life of Freya Stark.
In a captivating book about one of the great English-language interpreters of the Middle East, Geniesse (a novelist and former New York Times reporter) draws on the huge and expressive bulk of Freya Stark's letters to paint a personal and professional portrait of rare accomplishment. Stark (1893-1993) lived a tumultuous, semi-privileged, and constricting early life, which she broke out of by learning Arabic and then in 1927 sailing off to Lebanon. She quickly found her double vocation, as intrepid explorer and eloquent letter-writer, then pursued and built on these skills through two glorious decades, achieving best-sellerdom, fame, and the company of the high and mighty. During the war years she even acquired a modicum of political influence. (That said, Stark's one sustained political effort, a British government-sponsored speaking tour to the United States in 1943-44, was a disaster, with her anti-Zionist message finding much attention but very little sympathy and she, late of Persia and the Hadramaut, finding little in turn to charm her in America's modernity.)

But if her public life was a roaring success, the private life was notably less so. Two amusing chapters concern the "three foolish virgins" (about an episode in 1937-38, when Stark and two female scholars went off to Yemen) and her only marriage (at age 54) to a man who very soon after the wedding revealed his homosexuality (or rather, she could no longer pretend not to see it). In general, with the advancement of Stark's career, her biography becomes more interesting. But early or late, the evocation of a world only sixty years back but so removed from ours in its rhythms and its concerns - with the intense letter writing, the extended visits to country houses, and the imperatives of empire - will keep the attention of every reader.

Middle East Quarterly, December 1999

2-0 out of 5 stars There ought to be a law
There ought to be a law against an author writing a biography of a person whom she doesn't really like, respect, or understand. According to Geniesse, Freya Stark was a homely, erratic opportunist who could never commit herself to a loving relationship. The only good thing I have to say for this book is that it has encouraged me to read Freya's own words. Having started now with "The Valley of the Assassins," I now see how utterly Geniesse missed Freya's humor, compassion, and intellect. If you're interested in the life of an incredibly perceptive, funny, and courageous adventurer, and would like to learn something about what the Middle East was like a generation or two ago, my own recommendation would be to give this book a miss and head straight for Freya Stark's own writings.

5-0 out of 5 stars PASSIONATE BIOGRAPHY
I read about PASSIONATE NOMADE in a book catalog and thought it might be interesting to read, so I checked it out of the library. Fify pages into it, I returned it to the library and bought my own copy.

Freya Stark was a very intelligent and very gusty lady, one I would have loved to have known. Although her exciting travels in the Middle East brought her fame and recognition, her personal life was fully of pain and insecurity. Jane Geniesse has written an incredible biography of an incredible woman.

An unexpected bonus of this book is the understanding it has given me of the 20th century history and culture of the Middle East. With my son currently stationed in Iraq, the insights this book has given me are especially revelant.

5-0 out of 5 stars Passionate Nomad : The Life of Freya Stark
Explorer, eccentric, agent provocateur, and travel writer, Freya Stark first ventured into the Middle Eastern societies under British mandate during the 1920s, which led to a lifelong love for the Arab people and their culture. The published accounts of her exploits and observations made this mysterious region intellectually and emotionally accessible to both European scholars and casual readers. When she died in 1993 at age 100, she left a remarkable legacy as perhaps the last of the great adventuresses. In this insightful biography, former New York Times reporter Geniesse looks behind the legend to uncover the factors that molded her personality. Raised in a dysfunctional family by a controlling mother, Stark fretted about her physical failings and lack of higher formal education. Her need for freedom and attention contributed to her risk-taking, while her fear of rejection led to impetuous and disastrous personal relationships. Although more analysis of her writings would have enhanced this work, it is still a notable effort. Recommended for public and academic libraries ... Read more

14. High Calling : The Courageous Life and Faith of Space Shuttle Columbia Commander Rick Husband
by Evelyn Husband, Donna Vanliere
list price: $24.99
our price: $16.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0785261958
Catlog: Book (2004-01-11)
Publisher: Nelson Books
Sales Rank: 13978
Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Rick Husband wanted to be an astronaut since his fourth birthday, but it wasn’t always for the right reasons. Initially, he thought it would be neat . . . cool . . . a fun thing to do. It wasn’t until he came to a spiritual crossroads and was able to give that dream up to discover the true desires of his heart before he actually got into the space shuttle program at NASA. Three failed attempts didn’t daunt this driven pilot—and the fourth interview process, though lengthy and difficult, proved successful for him.

Husband’s years at NASA served not only to develop his integrity and character, but also to increase his faith in a Creator that could not be denied in the vastness of space. His story is not only inspirational but exhilarating and invigorating, as readers will witness the life of a man who consistently pursued the desires of his heart even as he served a faithful God.

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Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars Finding hope in the face of tragedy
Evelyn Husband's book 'HIGH CALLING' is one of the most powerful books I have ever read, for despite the uniqueness and very public nature of the Space Shuttle 'Columbia' tragedy, it highlights the personal nature of sudden loss and grief which everyone who has experienced it knows. Whether by accident, loss of a loved one thru illness, or even a broken marriage by betrayel, the pain of sudden loss is often overwhelming, and Evelyn's testimony of faith shining thru as her achor is such an inspiration, having experienced personal tragedy in my own life. But as Evelyn Husband shares so openly, only her faith in Jesus Christ gave her the ability to cope in the face of such public mind numbing loss, that God truly is a present help in time of need for all those who will cry out to Him. Her book also higlights what really matters most in life; our relationships! For what does it profit anyone to rise to great success at the expense of one's family, and Evelyn's story of Rick getting his priorities right is such a profound challenge for any man wanting to get his life in right balance - God first,then family, and finally one's career; a timely challenge for many men to follow Rick's example. As for inspiration, Evelyn's declaration of Rick's belief in God as author of the cosmos is so refreshing in the face of so much scientific agnosticism and unbelief, and being an astronomy author myself who believes in God as Creator of the cosmos, Rick's own testimony about the magnificent splendour in God's creation is a welcome affirmation which warmed my heart. Although an account of awful tragedy, it is also an account of great hope, for Rick's journey of faith made him the person he was, a loving man, a loving father, and a man whose faith in Christ made his life such a blessing which shone thru in the way he lived and why he was loved by so many. I hope this inspiring story will bring hope to many lives touched by grief and wanting to find renewed hope and faith. Indeed, such has been the impact in my own life,I have given away seven copies of 'High Calling' to different people including ministers, doctors, pilots, friends and family, for no-one can read this book without being profoundly moved and inspired, especilly about asking the BIG questions about life and faith and God, and finding renewed hope beyond tragedy. This is the most inspiring story I have ever read - thankyou Evelyn. James Waterhouse, BRISBANE, Australia.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not a random accident
Evelyn Husband writes about her husband's life and faith during a time when I would still be in bed, crying. Her ability to use humor as she tells about their life together is a testiment to the faith she professes in High Calling. The writing is simple, but the people she talks about (not just her husband) are anything but. I found it very comforting to find out, through her walk through of what led up to the launch of the Columbia, that the explosion wasn't just a random, freak accident, but an answer to the earnest prayers of two godly men. The life of Rick Husband is proof that you don't have to "look out for number 1" or "take care of yourself first" to achieve your dreams, as people today would have you believe. I think anyone, whether you love space or not, would find inspiration in Rick's story. Thank you, Evelyn.

5-0 out of 5 stars Recounts the Columbia Tragedy Historically and Personally
This book provides both an account of the Columbia breakup in February 2003 as well as Rick Husband's wife and childrens' reaction to the tragic loss of their husband and father. The book begins with the family expectantly waiting for Columbia to land, then sensing that something is wrong based on the behavior of the people near the landing site. We then learn of Rick's life, and how the family's faith in Jesus Christ had been so important in their lives. We also learn how Evelyn Husband had to tell her children that their father had tragically died.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent, but not without flaws
At times it felt like Evelyn was going to say something, but then she holds back. The portrait that she paints of Rick is someone without sin, a Godly man, who always aspired to be an astronaut. I felt she could have been more open and honest, and a bit less preachy at times.
Otherwise this book was touching. The real tragedy is that before the Columbia Disaster we as Americans did not consider the Astronauts who routinely risked their lives in manned space flight heroes. Space Shuttle launches were considered routine. The Columbia Disaster was a horrible wake up call. Reading what Rick had to do to get into the Space Program, all the training, all the sacrafices he made, was facinating. Rick Husband was a hero before he ever got into the cockpit of the Space Shuttle Columbia, and this book shows why.

3-0 out of 5 stars Overemphasizes the religious aspects of this hero
Although I enjoyed this book, it became tedious because of the overwhelming emphasis on Rick's religious beliefs. The book is co-authored by the astronaut's wife, who is evidently very comforted by her religion. Nearly every statement attributed to Rick, whether it mentioned his wife, his children, his family members, or his close friends -- incorporated his religious beliefs. I was more impressed with Rick's determination, skill, leadership qualities, and his desire to do the best he could in whatever he undertook -- which happened to include becoming a test pilot and astronaut, as well as a husband and family man. Don't get me wrong. Our American astronauts are my heroes. Rick Husband was heroic even before his tragic death. A more balanced picture of Rick would have been preferable. The saddest part of the story is that it took the loss of Columbia before most of the world learned how incredibly special the crew was. ... Read more

15. In Search of the Elusive Peace Corps Moment
by Douglas Wells
list price: $21.99
our price: $21.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0738865435
Catlog: Book (2001-05-15)
Publisher: Xlibris Corporation
Sales Rank: 419702
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In 1992, an idealistic but frustrated young musician from Nebraska goes in search of fulfillment behind the recently fallen Iron Curtain as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Estonia. After some hilarious missteps, he ends up finding love, adventure and a renewed sense of purpose. ... Read more

Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars Capturing the essence of Hiiumaa...
As an Estonian-American who grew up in the US and a visitor of Hiiumaa for a 2 -week vacation, after Wells' "Peace Corps Moment", I was pleasantly surpised to find how tourist friendly the island had become, from what I remembered from a previous visit. After reading the book, I realized how much Douglas Wells had been involved in creating the change. Hiiumaa has much to offer and Douglas captures the essence of Hiiumaa and the Estonian character and humor. I very much enjoyed his book and could not help but chuckle my way through it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great book!
Reading this book brought back good memories of working with Doug at the engineering firm. I laughed out loud at several of his stories. Doug has wonderful storytelling skills, a self-deprecating sense of humor and a sense of aplomb about any situation he gets himself into. You can easily put yourself in his place when you read the narrative. The sheep roundup story is great!

I highly recommend the book for anyone interested in the Peace Corps or the foreign service...or anyone looking for a good read. You won't be able to put it down.

5-0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good
This is a self-published book and I wasn't expecting much. I was really pleasantly surprised. Each chapter is a vignette from Douglas's life on Hiiumaa. The writing is good, the editing is crisp, the stories are funny. I think the book says more about Estonia, and about the period just after the events of 1989/1991, than it does about the Peace Corps. I spent quite a bit of time in the Baltics and Russia during the same years as Douglas. For me the book captured the flavor of these times very well.

3-0 out of 5 stars An Author Let Down by His Editors
A delightful book about one man's Peace Corps experience in a country that recently restored its independence and rejoined the world. However, better editorial support would have enhanced this book:
- Travel books without maps: irritating to readers--in this case, lack of at least a sketch of Hiiumaa was particularly ironic because the author tells the story of developing tourist info about the island
- Word choice: an incomplete sentence was created when "where" was used instead of "were"; calling tall, light-haired, blue eyed Estonians "swarthy" when "weathered" or "suntanned" was more appropriate
- Fact verification: The "Looking Glass" alternate airborne command post flying out of Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, was never a 747, but rather an RC-135, a fact easily verifiable in open sources.

It may have been amusing the first time the author used the gimmick of describing himself as an uninformed traveler stunned to find a part of the world different from his preconceived notions. Repeated use of this gimmick grew tiresome.

5-0 out of 5 stars Those crazy Estos
This book was hilarious. I finished the book in one evening, I couldn't put it down. I have recommended it to friends and family and all have enjoyed it. It gave my husband a glimpse of the Estonian food, personalities, attitudes, language and culture that I grew up with as the daughter of Estonian-Americans. ... Read more

16. The Beckoning Silence
by Joe Simpson
list price: $18.95
our price: $12.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0898869412
Catlog: Book (2003-06-01)
Publisher: Mountaineers Books
Sales Rank: 5446
Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

“I had to stand there and watch while the rest of my life was determined by the shaky adhesion of a few millimetres of fractured ice and the dubious friction of a tiny point of metal in a hairline crack in a rock wall…”

Marking the climax of his climbing career, Joe Simpson confronts his fears and mountaineering history in an assault on the North Face of the Eiger. Since his epic battle for survival in the Andes, recounted in Touching the Void, Joe Simpson has experienced a life filled with adventure but marred by death. He has endured the painful attrition of climbing friends in accidents which call into question the perilously exhilarating activity to which he has devoted his whole life.Probability is inexorably closing in. The tragic loss of a close friend forces a momentous decision. It is time to turn his back on the mountains that he has loved. Never more alive than when most at risk, he has come to see a last climb on the mile-high North Face of the Eiger as the cathartic finale to his climbing career.

In a narrative that takes the reader through extreme experiences from an avalanche in Bolivia, ice-climbing in the Alps and Colorado and paragliding in Spain - before his final confrontation with the Eiger - Simpson reveals the inner truth of climbing, exploring the power of the mind and the frailties of the body through intensely lived accounts of exhilaration and despair. The subject of his new book is the siren song of fear and his struggle to come to terms with it.
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Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good but not great.
If you haven't read Touching the it first as Joe makes several references to it. I read Touching The Void...and couldn't put it down - outstanding book, and a must read for any climber!

I bought this one hoping for the same. The book was good by all standards but Joe seemed to lose focus on what he was writing about in several places. I think it would have been better if this were divided into two books: one about the flying and one about climbing.

If you're in doubt, buy it...its worth the cover price just for the Eiger history and Joes attempt on it; and Joe is such a talented writer that he can make some mistakes and still create a great book.

4-0 out of 5 stars A more light-hearted Joe
Having read each of Simpson's five mountaineering books, I walked away from this one with the feeling that Joe has finally reached a certain acceptance of himself, the world he is a part of and the dangers that go along with being a climber. Whereas some of his previous efforts have been dark and devoid of humor ("Storms of Silence" and "Dark Shadows Falling" for example), I found myself frequently laughing out loud at this one. Joe has mastered the art of storytelling and this may be his best effort since his classic "Touching the Void," which of course is in a class by itself.

This book starts off as somewhat of a tribute to a friend of his who gave up mountaineering because of a fundamental war-weariness to its dangers only to be killed in a paragliding accident a short time later. This leads Simpson to vow to give up serious mountain climbing himself ... but not before completing a handful of classic climbing routes (a "tick list" as he calls it). Among these is the 1938 route of the North Face of the Eiger, which is the focus of the second half of the book. There seem to be a few phrases in this one that were ripped off right out of Heinrich Harrer's "The White Spider" and Joe tacidly acknowledges some unintentional plagarism at the end of the book, explaining that he's read so many books on the North Face of the Eiger that he doesn't even know where much of his knowledge had its origin. A little lame, but I bought it. And fear not, the reader who has come to expect Simpson (the "Mr. Magoo" of the climbing world) to be in a precarious situation will not be disappointed.

4-0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful mountaineering?
I've been reading a ton of mountaineering books lately, and this is quite possibly one of the best. Up until now, I've really liked Mark Twight's writing, mostly becuase he's really funny. But this book has really made me think about why I like to climb, and if it's really worth it. I think that Simpson's writing also does an excellent job of making you feel as though you are right there, if not belaying him, then standing at the belay watching. In the first chapter, there is a good account of his attempt(s) at Alea Jacta Est (a difficult mixed climb in France) and I could really feel the tension. Not quite the same feeling as you get when you are really running out a lead yourself, but not too far from it.

Anyways, I would heartily recommend this book to the climber and non-climber alike. It isn't so esoteric that non-climbers would feel intimidated, and it really makes one think about the whole point of climbing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Simpson at his best, compelling and honest.
Joe Simpson's writing is compelling, lucid and interesting. As in his previous writing he is refreshingly honest in his story telling of both facts and feelings.

The book deals mostly with the 1938 route on the North face of the Eiger. The historical details alone make this book a must read for mountaineering buffs. But, more importantly Simpson explores the interplay between mountaineering experience and the objective dangers of climbing in big mountains. The balance he contrasts is between the extreme satisfaction of being in the mountains and climbing at standards that challenge, with the feelings of those involved, including concerns over route conditions internal motivation and personal performance.

In days when we are increasingly fed a diet of what I call "Dare and Scare", or "Mountaineering Rubbernecking Exploitation" books, Simpson had written a sensitive personal account that anyone who has ever had the urge for adventure will relate to. I couldn't put it down. Bravo Joe! ... Read more

17. All Fourteen 8,000ers
by Reinhold Messner
list price: $40.00
our price: $26.40
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 089886660X
Catlog: Book (1999-11-01)
Publisher: Mountaineers Books
Sales Rank: 108067
Average Customer Review: 4.22 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Reinhold Messner is recognized as one of the greatest mountaineers of all time.When he reached the 8511-meter summit of Lhotse in Nepal, he became the first man to stand on all 14 of the world's 8000-meter peaks-an unbelievable achievement and a sensation in mountaineering history. What motivated Messner to be so dedicated in pursuit of his goal, despite unbelievable hardships, to keep confronting danger and death, loneliness and self-doubt? What thoughts and feeling occupied him when faced with his inner self and the highest mountains of the world?

The answers to these questions can be found in this revealing memoir. Through engaging text and full-color and black-and-white photos, readers will get a glimpse of the preparation, organization, and running of an expedition, and share rare moments on the summits of the world's highest peaks. This updated edition also includes Messner's comments on Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air.

Illustrated with 113 color and 76 black & white photos throughout. ... Read more

Reviews (9)

5-0 out of 5 stars Incredible achievement
Back in the '70's and early '80's, I eagerly awaited each issue of Mountain Magazine. It was my link to the climbing world. Time after time, a small paragraph or two would appear about another 8,000 meter peak that Messner had summited - all without bottled oxygen, all in exemplary style. The editor of Mountain was no fan of Messners, so the write-ups were overly brief. Still, I knew I was witnessing the work of a master.

This book compiles Reinhold's views on his biggest alpine climbs and still, we are sandbagged. What this man and his partners achieved is difficult to fathom two decades later because his impact has been absorbed into the whole. Before Messner, oxygenless attempts on the big mountains had fallen out of style but now, few world class mountaineers would dare consider it's use. Before Messner, huge seige expeditions were the norm but today, many emulate Reinhold's gutty, stripped down approach and the environment has benefitted. Reinhold is the man !

4-0 out of 5 stars It's a yes
If you are curious about what real high-altitude climbing can be all about, you should buy this book. For an arm-chair mountaineer, it has all the ingredients!
More pictures would be nice.

5-0 out of 5 stars The BEST book about THE 14 EIGTH THOUSANDERS
This is one the best books about mountaineering that I have and I do have a lot of them. It just has it all, about all the 14 eigth-thousanders and Messner's climbs on these mountains.

Lots and lots of excelent easy reading information about the eight-thousanders(historical highlights, geographical informations, technical informations, drawings of the most famous routes, etc); interviews(stories) with some other excelent climbers (Doug Scott, Chris Bonington, Hans Kammerlander, Kurt Diemberg, etc. ); filled with quotations; superb pictures of all the 14 eight-thousanders(really really great pictures - high quality paperprint).

Aside all that you also have some good "short" narrations (stories) about Messner's climbs on all the eight thousanders, some comments about mountaineering, about the critics made toward him, and others aspects of his career. For instance he talks about the death of his brother in Nanga Parbat, about traditional alpine style, about his partners, about solo climbings, about the use of oxygen and about much others subjects(traverses, new routes, human limits, etc). But don't expect to find a detailed, extensive narration about the climbings and I think that is because you would have at least 14 books inside a single book, it would be just to big for printing.

You won't find any other book with the climb stories of the first person(Messner) to climb all 14 and also with great pictures and information about the 14. This is a must have in any moutaineering collection.

5-0 out of 5 stars well illustrated and documented
This by far is the best compendium of eye-witness account, photographs, maps and statistics from the first climber who ever scaled all 14 highest mountains in the world. Maps, topography, geography and route descriptions are concise and up to the point. Messner is not at his best when he is trying to put a philosophical spin on things, but on the other hand, who is? In summary, a very good book.

5-0 out of 5 stars the wisdom of Mt. Analogue--but clearer
I strongly disagree with comments about the writing of this unsurpassed mountaineer. His writing is clear. Someone expecting a minute-to-minute account of each climb will be disappointed, but Messner conveys a remarkable amount of emotion and wisdom in each short chapter. He inspires with the bare truth. Soloing Everest without oxygen: "My tempo had become so slow that I despaired of ever making it. I could not manage the last few metres--I crawled on hands and knees." In the chapter on Manaslu (two expedition members died): "After this experience on Manaslu, I decided not to go on expeditions with other people again. If I wanted to go, I told myself six months after I had recovered to some extent, then I must go alone." This is one of my favorite books, perhaps my favorite mountaineering book--and replete with insights into Reinhold Messner by people who know him well. I thank him for following his dreams and writing about his insights, which enrich us all. ... Read more

18. Cook: The Extraordinary Voyages of Captain James Cook
by Nicholas Thomas
list price: $28.00
our price: $18.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0802714129
Catlog: Book (2003-10-01)
Publisher: Walker & Company
Sales Rank: 12378
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars An informed and informative biographical recounting
Nicholas Thomas' Cook is no light coverage of historical hightligts, but a seriously informed and informative biographical recounting of the famous ocean voyageur of the 1700s. This is an in-depth result of twenty years' of meticulous research into Pacific history, culture and art. Captain Cook's voyages were to re-defined the known shape of the globe and introduced Europe to new peoples, new animals, and formerly unknown geographical boundaries. Thomas' Cook provides a new generaton of readers with both the positive aspects of Captain Cook's discoveries and the negatives surrounding his impact on native peoples he encountered in the name of king and country.

2-0 out of 5 stars quite a disappointment!
I bought this book based on the recommendations here; unfortunately I have to say it's been a disappointment, and I feel compelled to write my own review too. While the book is obviously well researched and rich in details, the author interferes too much in the narrative -- I am frankly not very interested in Nicholas Thomas' personal relationship with Cook and Australian history. He claims in the introduction that he wants to stay away from the hero and anti-hero biases, but the whole book is very judgmental of Cook and his crew. In trying to be politically correct in 21st-century terms, the author fails to capture the 18th-century spirit of the voyages. Indeed, he paints a dark, boring picture of Cook that doesn't coincide with the exciting contemporary reception the navigator had in the second half of the 18th century. The style is poor, with long, convoluted sentences that take re-reading to decypher. Most annoyingly, there are several typos of foreign words, which I find unacceptable for a book published by a major publisher -- it shows a lack of attention to detail. I wish I could recommend another Cook biography, but I simply don't know. I can, however, highly praise Diana Preston's newly published biography of William Dampier, _A Pirate of Exquisite Mind_ for those interested in European navigators.

5-0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary tale of a great explorer
This is a highly absorbing account of the three voyages of Captain Cook. The author has done a very commendable job of describing all the people, places, and cultures that Cook and his crew encountered. His descriptions of the populations indigenous to the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Austrailia, the Pacific Northwest, etc., and of the geography of these places are well researched and fascinating. The interplay of cultures between the British explorers and those they encountered is emphasized with great effect. The personalities and motivations of the key figures, including Cook, are brought to life as well. The account of the voyages reads like an adventure story, while simultaneously being based on very solid research. Included are a number of excellent maps and a large number of excellent illustrations, primarily of paintings and sketches done by artists who accompanied Cook. Very highly recommended.

2-0 out of 5 stars A Disapointment
I was expecting a book describing the sea voyages in some detail, including life aboard the ships, weather conditions, Royal Navy customs, etc. The book has very nice maps showing the voyages, but otherwise deals primarily with the sociology of culture clash between the English and the natives, with much PC and rank speculation thrown in.

4-0 out of 5 stars The book is extraordinary as well
Nicholas Thomas has pulled off a rare achievement writing a book that will appeal to both those already quite familiar with Cook's three voyages and those looking for an introduction to his journeys.
This is not the classic biographical study of man replete with details about his family and early years. Indeed Thomas barely gives passing reference to Cook's background. The focus instead is not on who Cook was, but what he did.
Cook's 18th century expeditions made him among the first Europeans to explore such exotic locales as New Zealand, Tahiti, Hawaii (to name but a few). There he chartered islands, collected specimens and had many and various encounters with natives. Unlike those who had gone before, Cook paid the natives lengthy visits, allowing time to establish understanding and communication.
The historians' perspective has shifted in recent years to view European explorers of Cook's time as racist conquerors, given the consequences to indigenous peoples, this view has much merit. However Cook, like some of his contemporaries did not stoop to conquer, nor did he dismiss all people of color as savages. Cook would not hesitate to use force against natives who stole from his ships, but he also expressed admiration for many tribes and envied their happiness. He might even side with them over his own men when disputes arose. It is the fascinating meetings of cultures that make this time period, these types of voyages and Thomas' book so compelling. Cook's experiences, like many others in the years before exploration turned to conquest, were varied. Those that went badly could have tragic consequences, such as the one which claimed Cook's life. Thomas is to be lauded for presenting these meetings in what is at once a detailed and engaging manner.
My only quibble with Thomas' book is the over dependence on quotes from Cook's journals. How indispensable to historians that Cook (and others on his voyages) left such comprehensive journals. What a treat to read some of Cook's own words. But too often the narrative is bogged down by the author's decision to quote liberally, often paragraphs at a time, from the journals. Sometimes telling not showing is preferable.
That aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I do not feel that I truly understand Cook, but much more importantly, I do feel that I understand what he did. ... Read more

19. Close to the Wind
by Pete Goss
list price: $25.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786706074
Catlog: Book (1999-06-01)
Publisher: Carroll & Graf Publishers
Sales Rank: 573240
Average Customer Review: 3.71 out of 5 stars
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On 25 December, 1996, Pete Goss turned his 50-foot yacht Aqua Quorum back into a hurricane-force headwind to rescue French sailor Raphael Dinelli. He risked his life and any chance of winning one of the world's great yachting challenges--the Vendee Globe nonstop, single-handed, round-the-world race. Instead, he was awarded France's highest honor, the Legion d'Honneur.

Close to the Wind is Goss's story. He starts the book with his years of preparation as a merchant seaman and skipper on one of the 10 yachts in Chay Blyth's British Steel Challenge. He describes how he attempted to get sponsorship but was constantly rebuffed, and he discusses the hardships he faced--nights before business meetings spent sleeping on platforms because there was no money to spare for a room, for instance. The drama of the Vendee is recounted in detail, down to Goss's having to operate on his elbow without anesthetic and with only the assistance of faxed instructions. And will he race again? In fact, he plans to set off on in a 115-foot catamaran in The Race, December 2000. ... Read more

Reviews (14)

4-0 out of 5 stars Great book written by a real Hero
A great story that keeps your attention. The "Into Thin Air" of sailing. The only negative is that you can tell Goss is a professional sailor not a professional writer.

5-0 out of 5 stars Exciting adventure story
I couldn't put this book down. I kept reading passages to my husband who wants to read it and give it to several friends. Pete Goss's style is breezy and conversational and it is clear that true adventurers are a breed apart. This is a great read.

3-0 out of 5 stars Gybe or tack?
A great story of adventure, as the author describes his voyages around the world in several premier yacht races. Of course, the author did not chose a literary profession as a career, but never the less, he does a good job of describing in exciting detail the struggles and achievements of his life long obsession with some of the most challenging sailing events in the world.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Sailor's Sailor
Having ridden Destroyers for the US Navy for twenty years and cruising the Caribbean for the last three, I can say this is the definitive sailor's story. Truly inspirational. This book belongs in any boats library with Fastnet Force 10, Fatal Storm and A Hungry Ocean.

3-0 out of 5 stars To much Background
I enjoyed this book but I did think he talked a little to much about his struggles to get sponsorship and not enough about his sailing. The sailing parts of the book were the most interesting because he always seems to be pushing his boats to the limit. Which in turn he seems to always almost sink them. So for his next book , which will be coming out I'm sure after his around the world race in 2001, more sailing less background. ... Read more

20. Columbus in the Americas (Turning Points in History)
by William Least Heat-Moon
list price: $19.95
our price: $13.57
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0471211893
Catlog: Book (2002-08-30)
Publisher: Wiley
Sales Rank: 342181
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A stirring tale of adventure and tragedy

"They brought balls of spun cotton and parrots and javelins and other little things that it would be tiresome to write down, and they gave everything for anything that was given to them.I was attentive and labored to find out if there was any gold."

With these portentous words, Christopher Columbus described one of his first encounters with Native Americans on the island of Guanahani, which he had named San Salvador and claimed for Spain the day before.In Columbus in the Americas, bestselling author William Least Heat-Moon reveals that Columbus’s subsequent dealings with the cultures he encountered not only did considerable immediate harm, but also set the pattern of behavior for those who followed him.

Based on the logbook of Columbus and numerous other firsthand accounts of his four voyages to the New World, this vividly detailed history also examines the strengths and weaknesses of Columbus as a navigator, explorer, and leader.It recounts dramatic events such as the destruction of Fortress Navidad, the very first European settlement in the New World; a pitched battle in northern Panama with the native Guaymi people; and an agonizing year Columbus and his men spent marooned on a narrow spit of land in southern Jamaica.

Filled with stories of triumph and tragedy, courage and villainy, Columbus in the Americas offers a balanced yet unflinching portrait of the most famous and controversial explorer in history.

TURNING POINTS features preeminent writers offering fresh, personal perspectives on the defining events of our time. ... Read more

Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Columbus - More Than 1492
This is a terrific history of Columbus' four trips to the Americas taken mostly from his journals and other contemporary accounts. It is better than good for several reasons.

First, it is novel in that it describes the first voyage beyond the histroy we get in grade school. It describes Columbus' luck as well as his skill which when combined enabled him to make the journey and how he kept the crew thinking that land was always just over the horizon. He establishes every sailor of the time knew the world was round - the fear was the unknown size of the sphere and what lay beyond the horizon.

Next, it describes Columbus' next three voyages. I had seen maps showing them, but never read any accounts.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the book, though, was Mr. Least-Moon's accounts of how Columbus treated and perceived what he named Indians. The author puts these acts and attitudes into the context of the impending slaughter by the Spaniards of the Indians in the name of Christianity. The most remarkable aspect of the author's accounts and comments is that he makes the observations without a hint of political correctness or bias. His nearly emotionless rendition makes the reader's own conclusions more poignant.

This book is a terrific historical account of events about which most of us only have a superficial knowledge. It is strongly recommended.

4-0 out of 5 stars Columbus..A Place to Begin
As an introduction to the voyages of Columbus, this book by William Least Heat-Moon serves the task well. In its brief 180 pages, an overview of where and when Columbus travelled is well chronicled.

There are perhaps too many people who know of Columbus only that "in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue". Yet Columbus did more than just sail. Although he never discovered America and constantly thought he had arrived in Asia, he nonetheless served as the spark to the later journeys that would fully reveal the New World. Unfortunately, both his journeys and those of his followers would do much to injure the indigenous people with the introduction of disease and slavery.

If you are searching for a primer on Columbus and the New World, Least Heat-Moon's book serves that purpose well. If, however, you are looking for something of greater substance, look to other sources.

4-0 out of 5 stars A good read...
I received this book "Columbus in the Americas" as a present and enjoyed it very much. I previously read Heat-Moon's Blue Highways as well as River-Horse and this is a quite a departure from those books. Frankly I enjoyed Blue Highways and River-Horse more because Heat-Moon has such a great way of telling stories of his experiences. With Columbus he had to rely upon historical fact and obviously could not put in the first-person details that makes the other books so wonderful.

Considered on its own merits though, Columbus is an excellent interpretation of his voyages. The book has emphasis on the qualities Columbus had that make reading of his accomplishments worthwhile even 500 years after the fact. This book has stirred my interest in learning more about the life and times of Columbus.

5-0 out of 5 stars Columbus in the Americas
Given the recent uproar over traditional accounts of Columbus' "discovery", it is particularly refreshing to read so balanced and unpoliticed a narrative as this, especialy from one who's ancestors were among the "discovered". This story comes as close as I could imagine to taking the reader aboard on all four voyages.

5-0 out of 5 stars As The Way Opened
Least Heat-Moon has turned in a small book about several voyages of discovery that continue to the present. Like the author's own voyages, we are properly briefed in the historical context, brought into the narrative of a 15th Century ocean crossing, shown glimpses of what we as a species believe is real, then are left to discover how we feel about what we are shown and who we are. This timely account of the voyages illustrates the cupidity of the discoverer and includes the author's macabre wit and razor sharp sense of historical irony. Not to be missed, while we wait... ... Read more

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