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In the Shadow of Denali: Life and Death on Alaska's Mt. McKinley Paperback – July 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press; 1st edition (July 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558217266
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558217263
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,975,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"a mountaineering classic."--Booklist

From the Back Cover

Rising more than twenty thousand feet into the Alaskan sky is Denali, the tallest mountain in North America. In his exhilarating and stunning narratives, Jonathan Waterman paints a startlingly intimate portrait of the white leviathan and brings to vivid life men and women whose fates have entwined on its sheer icy peak. (5 1/2 X 8 1/4, 264 pages, b&w photos)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 17 customer reviews
I recommend this to anyone looking for adventure.
G. Huff
He is also a keen observer and a talented reporter with the integrity, passion and grit to inform those interested in that domain with great cogency and wit.
Dr Lawrence Hauser
To the less experienced, it will give a sobering wakeup call to the realities of mountaineering.
Dana W. Rouleau Jr.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
I've read countless books of this genre, and this is one of the best of it's kind. This is an incredible book, hands down. What makes this particular book stand apart? The stories the writer tells, after all, come with the territory - hubris plagued wannabees getting stuck on the mountain and being rescued (or not); ego-driven exploites and feuds amoung climbers; the requisite bodily suffering; the more infrequent triumphs on pinnacles that are mythical to most of us. Crack open any mountaineering book and you get all of that. What you don't get in some of those other books, however, this one provides in magnificent detail - the real, human, gut reaction to being right in the middle of it all. This author does not write obliquely. There is nothing recondite about any point he tries to make. It's the stories in this book that draw you in, but it's the candour and the honesty of the writing that keep you there. Take, for example, the author's depiction of a friend's inability to reconsile himself with the modern world and his sad, subsequent demise. The author invites you to become friends with the guy yourself by revealing his small acts of kindness and his prevailing innoscense. You empathise with the guy, you like the guy, and only then do you read about his self-inflicted free-fall. Or the author's illuminating, compassionate portrayal of the "other" John Waterman. The author introduces you to this long deceased climber and his father both. He takes you into the complex intensity of their relationship and parallels it with John's equaly intense relationship with the mountains. And then he jars you with an emotional account of a false reunion between father and son. It's haunting.Read more ›
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
"In the Shadow of Denali" is a collection of articles about mountaineering, Alaskan life, and the wilderness. It is the best collection of stories I have read since Krakauer's Eiger Dreams. Although technically about mountain climbing, the heart of this book is the effect the mountain has on the people who visit it, climb it, and live and work in its shadows. This book is not only for climbers (and armchair climbers) but for anyone who loves the wilderness. I hope Waterman writes another book very soon! I highly recommend you read this one.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dana W. Rouleau Jr. on April 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
A real look into the world of mountaineering that hasn't been glamorized or overly dramatized (in the case of other authors). The primary focus is Denali, but the book often shifts attention away from it, giving the reader a good look into the mountaineering career of Jon Waterman and a bit of insight upon many others. For the experienced mountaineer, they can most likely relate to many of Jon's experiences. To the less experienced, it will give a sobering wakeup call to the realities of mountaineering. I must disagree with the reader from NY listed below as stating that "The author falls into the trap of thinking that climbing is going to give him and some other fellow climbers an insight into life beyond that of the ordinary man." For anyone who has survived a truly epic climb, one does gain a bit of insight into life that they failed to notice beforehand, and that many others do not completely understand...do this regularly enough, and it can in fact change a person. The book was NOT self-indulgent in the least...merely giving a first hand account of his experiences, both good and bad. If you are planning a trip to Denali, this should be required reading....
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Dr Lawrence Hauser on October 11, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This wonderful collection of essays explores the territory right at the perimeter of death's door. Whether by freezing, freefall, animal mauling, or altitude sickness, Waterman's heros are faced with the terror of death's domain in circumstances too extreme to admit to external melioration. These individuals are on their own as they project themselves directly into harm's way and we bear witness through the evocative writing to Waterman's total preoccupation with life lived at the edge of anihilation.
The narrative as story telling is mostly compelling but the point of the book is not to convey an action line but rather to ponder the limits at which the human organism functions in uninhabitable conditions.
At first, when Watermen is very young and sassy, he gets away with flaunting the possibility of death as he undertakes feats that beg for physical retribution . But when he matures and sets his sights on Alaska's rugged mountain terrain, he allows the forces of nature to rub reality into his every pore until he realises he has tempted fate beyond his own capacity to process the consequences.
Waterman is a phenomenolgist of death. He is also a keen observer and a talented reporter with the integrity, passion and grit to inform those interested in that domain with great cogency and wit. I found myself grateful for the opportunity to immerse myself in this world of extreme psychological states and to share via Waterman's writing in the elation, or more acurately perhaps, the ecstasy of survival in the very heart of the abyss.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "icapote" on November 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
Heck of a book. Kudos to Jon Waterman on putting together a terrific collection of stories related to Denali. For those not well versed in mountaineering I think you can still enjoy this book a great deal. It will give you an honest look into the experience.
In addition, Waterman doesn't try to glamorize it. Sure he'll give you a good look at the many men full of character who have risked life and limb for a chance the climb the high one (as they call Denali). Also some of the stories take place when Jon was younger and you can see how he has matured. He doesn't make any attempt to hide the brashness of his youth. Finally, the climbers themselves really make the book. Read about the 'Pirate', the other Waterman (an especially intriguing story), Wilcox, the inimitable Mugs Stump, and others. A fine book that will having you turning pages and keep your attention.
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