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Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet's Tsangpo River MP3 CD – Bargain Price, October 15, 2004


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Product Details

  • MP3 CD
  • Publisher: Tantor Media; Unabridged,MP3 - Unabridged CD edition (October 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400151414
  • ASIN: B008SMW4TC
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,711,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Dedicated kayakers have long had their hearts set on the Tsangpo River, which cuts a gorge through Tibet many times deeper and steeper than the Grand Canyon; successfully navigating it is akin to snowboarding down Everest. The last major expedition of the 1990s ended when one of the kayakers drowned in the raging currents, but in 2002 a group led by adventure filmmaker Scott Lindgren, one of the extreme sport's most prominent heroes, gave it another shot. Heller was assigned to cover the expedition for Outside and, despite having completely worn out the cartilage in one hip, he decided to go for it. The story takes him to one of the most beautiful spots on the planet, still almost entirely untouched, but also subjects him to the ugliest aspects of human nature. Heller is unflinchingly honest about the hostility he faced from Lindgren and his companions, who openly attack the journalist for "getting rich" from their story, as well as the resentment that begins to well inside him at their condescension. Meanwhile, the locals hired to carry the equipment realize they have the upper hand and start extorting more money for their services. The drama on shore, however, is easily matched—sometimes surpassed—by the action on the river, which includes a few chilling brushes with death. Heller nimbly blends the history of the region into his gripping modern trek, as the crew lives up to the legacy of the great explorers before them. An offhand remark made to the paddlers early in the journey—that their story could be the kayaking equivalent of Into Thin Air—has come true in the best possible way.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

A river in Tibet called the Yarlung Tsangpo has been the stage for recent works about extreme kayaking, such as The Last River: The Tragic Race for Shangri-la by Todd Balf (2001). Heller knew Doug Gordon, the kayaker whose 1998 death was central to that book. Amid this narrative of a 2002 expedition, Heller reaches for explanations for why kayakers risk their lives on phenomenally dangerous rivers. Bragging rights to a first descent are one reason he offers, and the ineffable euphoria of intense experience is another. Whatever the temptations of radical rafting, Heller's tale--while reporting the white-water expertise of expedition members--focuses more on the group's logistics; on its recurrent haggling with porters; and, as a subplot, on the animosity directed toward the author by the team leader, Scott Lindgren. (They argued about Heller's book contract.) The author will occasionally grind a gear in his transitions between cultural passages, immediate events, and poetical evocations of river-gorge vistas, but he also stokes plenty of the action that propels thrill-seeking readers. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Peter Heller is a longtime contributor to NPR, a contributing editor at Outside Magazine and Men's Journal, and a frequent contributor to Businessweek. He is an award winning adventure writer and the author of four books of literary nonfiction. He lives in Denver. Heller was born and raised in New York. He attended high school in Vermont and Dartmouth College in New Hampshire where he became an outdoorsman and whitewater kayaker. He traveled the world as an expedition kayaker, writing about challenging descents in the Pamirs, the Tien Shan mountains, the Caucuses, Central America and Peru.At the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he received an MFA in fiction and poetry, he won a Michener fellowship for his epic poem "The Psalms of Malvine." He has worked as a dishwasher, construction worker, logger, offshore fisherman, kayak instructor, river guide, and world class pizza deliverer. Some of these stories can be found in Set Free in China, Sojourns on the Edge. In the winter of 2002 he joined, on the ground team, the most ambitious whitewater expedition in history as it made its way through the treacherous Tsangpo Gorge in Eastern Tibet. He chronicled what has been called The Last Great Adventure Prize for Outside, and in his book Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet's Tsangpo River.

The gorge -- three times deeper than the Grand Canyon -- is sacred to Buddhists, and is the inspiration for James Hilton's Shangri La. It is so deep there are tigers and leopards in the bottom and raging 25,000 foot peaks at the top, and so remote and difficult to traverse that a mythical waterfall, sought by explorers since Victorian times, was documented for the first time in 1998 by a team from National Geographic.

The book won a starred review from Publisher's Weekly, was number three on Entertainment Weekly's "Must List" of all pop culture, and a Denver Post review ranked it "up there with any adventure writing ever written."

In December, 2005, on assignment for National Geographic Adventure, he joined the crew of an eco-pirate ship belonging to the radical environmental group the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as it sailed to Antarctica to hunt down and disrupt the Japanese whaling fleet.

The ship is all black, sails under a jolly Roger, and two days south of Tasmania the engineers came on deck and welded a big blade called the Can Opener to the bow--a weapon designed to gut the hulls of ships. In The Whale Warriors: The Battle at the Bottom of the World to Save the Planet's Largest Mammals, Heller recounts fierce gales, forty foot seas, rammings, near-sinkings, and a committed crew's clear-eyed willingness to die to save a whale. The book was published by Simon and Schuster's Free Press in September, 2007.

In the fall of 2007 Heller was invited by the team who made the acclaimed film The Cove to accompany them in a clandestine filming mission into the guarded dolphin-killing cove in Taiji, Japan. Heller paddled into the inlet with four other surfers while a pod of pilot whales was being slaughtered. He was outfitted with a helmet cam, and the terrible footage can be seen in the movie. The Cove went on to win an Academy Award. Heller wrote about the experience for Men's Journal.

Heller's most recent memoir, about surfing from California down the coast of Mexico, Kook: What Surfing Taught Me about Love, Life, and Catching the Perfect Wave, was published by The Free Press in 2010. Can a man drop everything in the middle of his life, pick up a surfboard and, apprenticing himself to local masters, learn to ride a big, fast wave in six months? Can he learn to finally love and commit to someone else? Can he care for the oceans, which are in crisis? The answers are in. The book won a starred review from Publisher's Weekly, which called it a "powerful memoir...about love: of a woman, of living, of the sea." It also won the National Outdoor Book Award for Literature.

Heller's debut novel, The Dog Stars, is being published by Knopf in August, 2012. It will also be published by Headline Review in Great Britain and Australia, and Actes Sud in France.

Customer Reviews

Like, go be nuts, but don't ask me to care.
Stantz
Peter Heller will have you gripping your seat as he transports the reader into the Tsangpo Gorge.
Jacamar Rose
For me, this was the great joy of reading "Hell or High Water."
Dave King

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By R. Hillard on January 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I bought and read this book (from Amazon) after seeing it on display at my local Borders. A growing interest in Tibet combined with a passion for non-fiction adventure stories made this a perfect choice. After finishing the book, I received the DVD (Into the Tsangpo Gorge), which brings the whole story to life. However, I am certain I would not have enjoyed watching the DVD as much were in not for having read the book first. If you already have the DVD, I highly recommend the book to round out the story. And if you've already read the book... the DVD is a MUST.

While I agree with some reviewers that Heller is not on equal footing with Jon Krakauer, I am a bit surprised at the degree to which they dismiss Heller's writing. First off, the story itself is so compelling that -- even if what these critical reviewers say about the writing style were true -- you would be doing yourself a disservice to dismiss this book entirely. That said, I found that Heller did an excellent job of creating a vivid picture of the Tsangpo Gorge and the harrowing trek that the expedition team faced both on and off the river. When you consider the semi-reluctant cooperation he faced from the expedition leader, Scott Lindgren, and the fact that Heller himself was not actually kayaking on the river, I am rather impressed with how well he is able to capture the spirit of the paddlers and all their daring whitewater exploits!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amirah on August 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This is an extrodinary book. How these paddlers trekked up this Gorge (with kayaks)and paddled the Tsangpo is absolutely amazing. I did like when the author talked about the history of the Gorge..the steepness..etc. I'm sad that I finished it. No, there is no pictures (for a certain 4th grader)...BUT if you want to SEE this magnificent scenery AND WATCH these exceptional paddlers then buy Scott Lindgren's DVD "Into The Tsangpo Gorge"..its the movie version to this book. ITS ABSOLUTELY JAW DROPPING! Once you watch this DVD..you will want to read the book again. Anyone who has an interest in this part of the world will ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS BOOK AND DVD!!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Baxter Pharr on October 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
For years, Tibet's Upper Tsangpo gorge had loomed as the ultimate challenge in whitewater. Carving the deepest gorge in the world (over 15,000 feet deep) and dropping in places 250 feet/mile this monsterous river had repelled every attempt to navigate it's turbulent and treacherous waters. In 1998, a group led by Wickliffe Walker attempted a first descent at 60,000 cfs+, only to have U.S. Kayak Slalom Team member Doug Gordon drown almost midway through the gorge. Their perilous journey is chronicled in the excellent book The Last River.

After extensive planning using satalite imagery, a team of the world's top kayakers led by extreme filmmaker Scott Lindgren (and sponsored by GM/Outside magazine) attempted a fresh first descent in February 2002 at a more reasonable 15,000 cfs. While Lindgren and his 5 buddies were battling the rapids, Peter Heller (on assignment from Outside magazine) hiked the side canyon on a bad hip with an army of 64 porters providing logistical support. Heller chronicles the boaters' near death experiences from the relatively safe vantage point of the trail overlooking the river. Although unable to provide a personal account of the kayaking experience, his writing is brilliant, describing a Shangri-La like beauty that gives the reader a feeling of being surrounded by one of the most remote and enchanting places on Earth.

Heller also vividly portrays the six personalities of this elite kayaking group; in particular focusing on the intense displeasure that Lindgren has for Heller's book proposal. He also describes an intense standoff between the porters and the expedition members, where the porters demand, on threat of death, almost twice their originally contracted pay.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jacamar Rose on February 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Peter Heller will have you gripping your seat as he transports the reader into the Tsangpo Gorge. The story is told with beautifully crafted sentences which compensate for the lack of photos by filling your mind with exquisite word pictures. Of course the adventure itself is the main excitement, but the personalities of the kayakers present another layer of drama as the adventure roars down the river. These men are on a sort of exploration, true, but it is a mistake to imagine that they are heroes, since this kind of adrenaline- and testosterone-filled journey is by nature a very self-involved endeavor. For readers who love to mentally throw themselves over the edge without actually risking death, HELL OR HIGH WATER is a classic wild ride.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mark Stevens VINE VOICE on February 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a detailed, unsentimental report on an amazing trek and high-risk journey. You don't need to know one thing about kayaking to enjoy this rough and tumble adventure. The cultural barriers are as fascinating as the plunges down skyscrapers of water. The description of the topography and the characters on this journey are wonderful, compelling. This "Into Thin Air" on a ribbon of churning foam and turbulence.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dave King on January 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Peter Heller is an adventure writer in the old style: thoroughly conversant when it comes to the main event, but careful also to place that central project in full context. For me, this was the great joy of reading "Hell or High Water." The kayaking trip down the Tsangpo is so vividly, ingeniously described that at several points my toes curled at the risk, and it's a great, solid tale that sits properly at the center of this book. But the story of seven brave kayakers is offset by Heller's unique curiosity and humanity: along the route we get bits of Tibetan mythology and history, narratives of earlier conquest, a tutorial on river movement, a little Buddhism and natural-history arcana, plus a whole boatload of engaging stories. Heller is a generous writer who takes excellent command of his book's ambitious scope, and the result for readers is a chance to join a knowledgeable, companionable guide on a truly remarkable expedition.
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