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Between a Rock and a Hard Place


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Between a Rock and a Hard Place + Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man's Miraculous Survival + Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
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Product Description

Aron Ralsted's Between a Rock and a Hard Place is an amazing read. You know the story. Could you do what he did? Hiking into the remote Utah canyon lands, Aron Ralston felt perfectly at home in the beauty of the natural world. Then, at 2:41 P.M., eight miles from his truck, in a deep and narrow slot canyon, an eight-hundred-pound boulder tumbled loose, pinning Aron's right hand and wrist against the canyon wall. Through six days of hell, with scant water, food, or warm clothing, and the terrible knowledge that no one knew where he was, Aron eliminated his escape option one by one. Then a moment of stark clarity helped him to solve the riddle of the boulder--and commit one of the most extreme and desperate acts imaginable. Oh yeah, that guy.Author - Aron Ralsted.Binding - soft.Pages - 354.Publisher - Atria Books.Year - 2005.ISBN - 9780743492829.

Product Details

Color: Paperback
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches ; 12.2 ounces
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • ASIN: 074349282X
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (310 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Questions & Answers

Customer Reviews

Amazing story and very well written.
BUFFSRW
Aron Ralston is not, as he states at one point in the book -an outdoorsman.
E38Wolf
I read the book and am just finishing up with the audio version.
K. Albrecht

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

171 of 187 people found the following review helpful By emily on September 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I agree with the last reviewer. The fact that Aron Ralston used poor judgment, i.e. hiking alone and not telling anyone where he was, only makes his story more compelling. Hasn't everyone made a huge mistake that leads to a painful, regretful plight?

Calling the media sensationalistic,in this instance, is just plain silly--amputing one's arm in order to save one's life IS a sensational, highly unusual event. I don't think the media or Aron is making it anything more than what it was. The charge that Aron is self-promoting is just as ridiculous. After you read the book, you will see that Ralston is a humble person with great integrity and strength. He is simply telling his own, true, unbelievable story. Bottomline, this book is incredibly well-written, moving and not to be missed.
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52 of 56 people found the following review helpful By nurse nicole on December 17, 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'm not sure who these reviewers are who have such pity for Aron Ralston, or who think he's a "dumbf--k" for his risk-taking, or who think he hasnt learned something of crucial importance from his experience at Blue John Canyon. Either they missed the point of this incredible story, or I did. Given how deeply this book touched me, I'd say it's a safe bet that it wasnt me that missed the point.

The story of his saga in the canyon is retold in this book in often excruciating detail, to the point where I sometimes found my hands clenching, my heart pounding, my eyes welling with tears as he reminisced, hallucinated, struggled with things that seem to me the very core of being human - in particular, discovering a greater appreciation for the people we love.

I would recommend this book to all but maybe the most squeamish of individuals, and even then I would suggest sucking it up and reading it anyway. This story is inspiring in so many ways. Totally worth reading.

Aron, if you're reading these reviews....thank you. Your suffering was not in vain, my friend. And i thank you for sharing it with all of us.
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36 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Jessica D. Owens on September 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful book by a clearly remarkable individual. Ralston successfully intertwines prior experiences with his accident in Utah, to give the reader tremendous insight into the many wilderness experiences that shaped him.

At times, the book gives fairly detailed technical renderings of mountaineering experiences, and these passages can be difficult. However, these sections can be easily 'skimmed through' by the non-mountaineer, and most probably savored by those with more hiking/climbing experience.

What makes this book valuable to every reader, including ones who may never face seemingly insurmountable physical challenges, is Ralston's -Joseph Campbell inspired- message of "follow your bliss." It will be the unusual reader who does not finish this book feeling as if they must closely examine their own life, and the course it is taking.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Yvonne on May 22, 2007
Color Name: Paperback
I saw the Dateline NBC special about Aron's ordeal when it aired 3 years ago. I was stunned, as I'm sure everyone who saw it was, and I made a mental note to read this book. But here it is, 2007, and I've only just now gotten around to it.

I don't think this book is all good or all bad - I share many of the same opinions of the others who have reviewed it. One thing I will say is I don't think it's possible to be completely objective and review the BOOK alone, separate from "reviewing" Aron as a person. But when someone writes their autobiography, I think they put themselves out there for judgment, so I won't attempt to make that separation.

First, the writing style. Yes, there are many instances where the descriptions are incredibly overwritten, where you can almost see his conscious effort to make his writing seem "poetic." And his penchant for $2 vocabulary words couldn't be more annoying. But for me there was a huge difference between the writing in the "background" chapters (overwritten and over-detailed) and the writing about the entrapment itself, which is nothing short of vivid, stunning, and remarkable. His ability to put you right there in that canyon with him is amazing. He really is a very good storyteller, and I found myself very intrigued and delighted on numerous occasions to read the unique ways that he describes things.

As others have said, there is way too much technical detail, particularly when he's recounting his past outings. In those passages I found that even with pages of description, I still had a hard time picturing exactly what he was talking about because I'm not a climber (or a skier, or a white-water rafter, or a canyoneer, or a rappeller or a...).
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99 of 118 people found the following review helpful By L. Sumpter on September 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Aron's story is intelligent, sincere, warm and at many times, funny. As amazing as the story of his ordeal is, what is nearly as amazing is that something this well-written was created by the person it involved, not a ghost writer. It is nothing short of fine literature, not to mention an obviously compelling story.

Aron inspires us all. He shows us that a motivated person can save himself, and that the force of life can beat unbelievable odds against the force of death.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jason A. Miller VINE VOICE on October 10, 2005
Color Name: Paperback
I feel like an 800-pound boulder going in to write anything less than an overwhelmingly positive review of "Between a Rock and a Hard Place". How many people have said they'd give their right arm to have their memoirs reach the bestseller list? Well, outdoorsman Aron Ralston actually did that. Who, then, am I to judge his writing style?

There's no listed ghostwriter, and you can believe Ralston did structure and write the whole book himself. A Carnegie Mellon grad with five years as a mechanical engineer, and well versed in outdoor literature, Ralston comes off as a talented writer (one would hope, however, that he'd avoid the inevitable trap of making his next book a thinly veiled roman-a-clef about a trapped rock climber). However, the book is bogged down by two authorial -- if not editorial -- decisions:

First, the writing style is very technical, and therefore dense. I'm not an outdoorsman; probably the most extreme things I've done in my adult life are to climb the Diamond Head on Oahu, which really just involved walking up a lot of stairs; and an extremely little bit of caving outside of Rapid City, South Dakota. Although Ralston cites to Jon Krakauer as a writing inspiration, he lacks Krakauer's ability to make the extraordinary seem achievable. I felt I could climb partway up Everest after reading "Into Thin Air". After "Between a Rock and a Hard Place", I didn't even think I could ride a bicycle again.

Second, the alternating chapters. I understand the structure of the book: in order to tell his whole life story, while keeping the suspense going, Ralston only describes his ordeal in odd-numbered chapters.
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