Saturday, October 19, 2013

Book review: "Epic: Stories of Survival from the World's Highest Peaks"

"Epic" is like a sampler box of climbing stories. It's not a bad collection, but in the end it's a rather unsatisfying meal.

The problem is that most of the stories are excerpts from books, making it hard for readers to fully understand the context of what's happening. It's as if you're suddenly thrown into a dramatic scene on the edge of a mountain without knowing who your climbing partners are or how you got there.

Also, several of the stories leave the reader hanging at the end.

The best story of them all was John Climaco's "Dangerous Liaisons," a tale of his exasperating battle with the arrogant Pakistani liaison officer who ruined his expedition. (Ironically, it is only tangentially about climbing.)

I also liked Art Davidson's tale of being pinned down in a storm on Mt. McKinley, one of those stories where you can practically feel the chill wind down your back and the frostbite in your toes. Still, it is one of the excerpts that leaves the reader wondering what happens next.

In all, readers interested in mountain climbing stories will be better served by seeking out the original books from which these stories are taken.

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