Friday, November 15, 2013

Book review: "A Wall of White: The True Story of Heroism and Survival in the Face of a Deadly Avalanche"

The folks at Reader's Digest who condense books should really take a whack at "A Wall of White" this book is at least twice as long as it should be. There's actually a good story in there, but it's buried underneath a lot of unnecessary material.

Author Jennife Woodlief clogs up the first half of the book with detailed biographies on a dozen or more people connected to the deadly 1982 avalanche at Alpine Meadows in California. Not only are these bios too long and too many, they're out of context: We have no clue to how they're related to the avalanche, since Woodlief doesn't start telling that story until the second half.

Woodlief also goes on excessively about ski area avalanche control techniques
even though they played no part in this avalanche.

So do yourself a favor: Skip the first 10, maybe even 11, chapters of this book. Really. You'll miss very little, and you'll get into the meat of the story far more quickly.

The second half of the book describes the avalanche and the subsequent attempts to rescue those buried in the snow. It's an engaging and sometimes heartbreaking story.

One last gripe: This book, like similar ones, has a batch of pictures in the middle. If you look at those pictures and what reader wouldn't?   it will spoil the ending of the book. Why can't publishers insert pictures at the appropriate place in the narrative?

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