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Destination Truth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter (2) Paperback – October 11, 2011
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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Cluj, Romania, 2009
Wind is suddenly screaming into the cockpit of this aging Antonov biplane. Charts and a half-assed, handwritten flight plan whip by my face and through the cockpit door into the main cabin. In the rear of the plane our director of photography, Evan, who has been filming out the open door, is suddenly thrust forward toward the edge of open space, only to be yanked to a stop by his four-point harness. Documents eject past him and into oblivion.
The sound is deafening and the pressure change so abrupt that I try to brace my arm against the roof to steady myself. Instead, my hand is forcefully bent back by what feels like icicles slicing through my fingers, and I instinctively retract.
Open air. I’m immediately overwhelmed by a terrible realization. The cockpit ceiling is gone.
Our audio engineer, Mike, has the common sense to kick the pilot’s door shut from his first-row seat behind me, closing off the wind tunnel coursing through the interior of the plane and sealing me into the roofless cockpit.
Moments ago I was actually bored, fiddling with a camcorder to get a close-up of the plane’s antiquated controls and weathered gauges, the altimeter needle quivering from the vibration of the plane’s beleaguered engine. The pilot, a stout Russian in a thick wool sweater, was languidly operating the stick. Now I’m craning back to get a view of the tail stabilizer through the gaping maw above me, praying the debris from the roof hasn’t clipped it on the way by. I think twice about unbuckling my harness for a better look and instead concentrate on the ground below, which is getting closer by the second.
I probably shouldn’t be surprised by any of this, of course. As the host of the Syfy Channel’s Destination Truth, I’ve spent the last four years traveling to far-flung locales following reports of cryptozoological creatures and paranormal phenomena. Since there aren’t exactly nonstop commercial flights leading directly to the doorsteps of the world’s most enduring mysteries, I’ve made a career, such as it is, out of flying on board the planet’s most laughably derelict aircraft.
But even by my admittedly lax standards, this plane is a piece of shit. I arrived at the airfield (and I do mean field) after two straight days of begging our field producer, Allison, to procure a plane—any plane—that could take us up and over the purportedly haunted Hoia Baciu Forest, the subject of our current episode. After exhausting every possible charter from here to Bucharest, she managed to find this flying Russian coffin and offered a few bucks to a local pilot to coax it back into active service.
The Antonov An-2 is not the sort of plane most people would agree to climb aboard in the first place. Basically unchanged since its design in 1946, it has wings covered in fabric, not metal. The plane is a flying dinosaur, originally intended for agricultural use. A function it might still fulfill as it threatens to fertilize nearby farms with the remains of my crew.
It is common in moments of potentially fatal catastrophe for the world to close in around us and become much smaller. Disaster is often countermanded by an intense focus, even if it happens to resolve on strange and seemingly arbitrary details. Looking over at the captain, I’m suddenly engrossed by his bald head. Where once there was a comical comb-over, there is now this emancipated ribbon of hair dancing in the vortex and joyfully reaching up to the heavens. It looks like one of those inflatable noodles outside a used-car dealership. Like any pilot worth his salt, though, he seems utterly unfazed by his new coif or by our circumstances in general. Where can one buy a little of that Right Stuff bravado required to shrug off the fact that your airplane is now a convertible?
When Captain Chesley Sullenberger famously ditched that crippled US Airways jet in the Hudson River after a flock of geese turned themselves into engine-flavored pâté, it barely seemed to raise his pulse. He casually noted to air traffic control, “We’re gonna be in the Hudson,” as though he was stopping off there for a cup of coffee. My distress call would have consisted of a jumbled litany of swearwords arranged in no particular order followed by an ecstatic, “Holy JESUS we’re going to crash into a river! MOMMY!” During this particular aviation mishap, I do my best to stay calm and not soil my pants. This is the best I can muster under the circumstances, and I’m feeling fairly heroic about it.
The pilot adjusts the flaps and begins to bank around toward an open field. Time continues to slow down, and I think about the circumstances that brought me to this moment.
How did it come to this? How on earth did I end up here, plummeting in a partially disassembled biplane toward some anonymous field in Romania? A few years ago this would have been inconceivable. But now it’s just another day at the office. I manage to catch the pilot’s gaze for only a moment; above the din he leans over and yells, “We must go back.”
Indeed. We must. Five years, to be exact.
© 2011 Universal City Studios Productions, LLLP.
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The next reason I devoured the book so avidly included the fact that Josh Gates is well-educated, and that is obvious in his writing style, grammar and vocabulary. It's VERY refreshing for me to have to stop mid-page in order to look up a word definition.
This book is loaded with historical facts plus anecdotes as well, and since Josh received his university degrees in archaeology and drama, these little tidbits of truth and cultural oral tradition round out this book with candid photos of the crew and their exotic locales.
I sincerely hope that the next 4 seasons of Destination Truth will give Josh Gates plenty of hair-raising unexplainable truths and worldwide adventure for The Next Book #2. I can't wait !!
PS: I bought this book by mistake, having thought it was "Free", under Kindle Unlimited... After reading a few chapters I simply Could Not stop reading to return it and get my money returned. Now i am glad that I decided to keep this funny, informative, exciting, kinda spooky, absolutely interesting, best book I've read in several months. (and I'm an habitual, voracious reader)🤓
You definitely get a sense of how much work and time go into putting a television show together. Gates is an exceptional writer who excels at painting pictures with words and making you feel that you are in the moment with him.
Solid writing style in the first person. Good editing. Nice follow up notes. And the look of this is made to resemble an old journal, which is a nice touch.
Top international reviews
On the first page with publishing rights, it even states the website it's downloaded from. Whoops.
I had bought this for my wife for Valentine's Day. Along with another book: 'The Secret' by Bryon Preiss.
The night before (the 13th), I had casually and conviently 'switched the channel over' to the episode where Josh hunts for the treasures hidden in this legendary book. I couldn't wait to see my wife's face the next day. To open the book that captivated her imagination just the night before. To open that thick, heavy tome, marvel at the glossy hand-painted illustrations. To wonder that in her hands were the clues that would lead her to the remaining unfound ten treasures. To let her thoughts dance as she read the cryptic peoms (beautifully printed in artisan ink on proper bang-on quality, posh pulpy paper). And Josh's book, of course.
She opened the Amazon parcel, and boom.
Nowt, mate. A confused looking Missus with an embarressed smile.
Both books were terrible copies.
These cheap knock offs not only cost me £48, but tonight's blowjob.
Good news; it does. Gates writes in an accesible, entertaining and informative style that keeps you jogging alongside his adventures with the TV series. His recollections are often amusing and sometimes tense and easily convey his love of travel. It isn't a challenging read, but it is compulsive and my only real criticism is that I wanted more from it in terms of content.
First of all Josh describes the circumstances of how he came to be presenting the show and how it developed over 4½ seasons. I love all the background detail to the investigations, the things you don't get to see in a 40-minute TV episode. Josh and his team go into every investigation with such enthusiasm and a determination to find evidence that you can't help but get caught up in it all.
One of the most fascinating episodes of Destination Truth was the Team's visit to Chernobyl. Investigations in Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and Senegal may have been dangerous but Josh's description of the trip to Chernobyl is something on a different level. Whereas you can reason with angry locals and survive slips and falls, once inside the Chernobyl Zone of Alienation, the 10km radius around the stricken reactor, it's danger on a whole new level.
Even though Josh travels the world hunting monsters, coping with all manner of hardship and discomfort along the way, one of the most disastrous trips he made was a holiday taken on the Baja California Peninsula. Many an intrepid traveller would have turned back long before Josh and his friend did and as bad as the trip turned out to be, it's a really entertaining read.
This isn't a book to read and then just leave on a shelf; it's one I'll enjoy dipping into again and again and there are plenty of adventures in there to revisit. Hopefully there'll be further volumes of Josh's monster hunting memoirs to come.
At the end of the book Josh encourages everyone to travel and experience the wonders of this planet we call home and that's what I love about this book. Even if you're not familiar with the TV show or not that interested in hunting the Yeti, the Ninki-Nanka, Alien Big Cats or Leprechauns, this is a great travelogue and one that's sure to instil in all of us a desire for adventure, in fact it's a guide book to our fascinating planet.
I enjoyed it; it's brief and doesn't go into very much detail about, well, anything really. It's just a mish-mash of Josh's thoughts and views on a handful of investigations, but really reflects his personality (as it comes through on the show), is a good laugh and takes you behind some of the investigations which, if you've watched those episodes of the show, is quite interesting. What it does do, however, is answer questions on how the show was developed and why the entire team changes mid-way through the season (here in the UK, it was mid-way through the season!) - which is nice to know.
Like the show itself, it's not overly serious, long or deep; so don't expect it to be a full expose on the show or a behind-the-scenes 'tell-all'. I read it in a few hours; enjoyed it but can't see myself picking it up again.
The series follows the Destination Truth team all the over the world to investigate reports on various monsters and the like, trying to gather evidence to support the claims. This book offers a glimpse of a different side of things, explaining the origins of the show and what goes on behind the scenes, and as the team embark on their journey, it makes you feel as though you are right there with them.
It is engaging from the get-go, and true to Josh's presenting style; interesting, enlightening at times, and very humorous. I have on several occasions had to stop myself from laughing out loud after realising that I am on the bus on the way home!!
All in all, a great read, (and certainly something to read whilst waiting for the new series to start). I look forward to reading more from Mr Gates, a definite Indiana Jones in his own right.