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BookBrowse Reviews Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

by Aron Ralston

Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston X
Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2004, 320 pages

    Paperback:
    Aug 2005, 368 pages

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One of the most extraordinary survival stories ever told. Memoir

From the book jacket: One of the most extraordinary survival stories ever told -- Aron Ralston's searing account of his six days trapped in one of the most remote spots in America, and how one inspired act of bravery brought him home.

Comment: This book sat on my desk for some weeks before I eventually opened it up - the reason I delayed was that, frankly, I thought I knew enough of about the story having read the newspaper reports at the time... Aron Ralston, an experienced climber on a routine day hike in the Utah Canyons gets his arm caught between a falling boulder and a canyon wall, and after a harrowing six days, cuts his own arm off, rappels back down the cliff face and walks out of the canyon to find help.   

However, eventually I picked it up and read through the first chapter, and there went my productivity for the afternoon!  The story alternates between three different threads -  the harrowing descriptions of his six days trapped by the rock, the efforts by the search parties and his family to find him, and flashbacks to his early climbing experiences.  I must admit that I skipped over some of the latter details, and found some parts of the tale a little overwrought (but I'm not the one with my hand stuck under a boulder!).

As Alan Moores writing for Booklist (and giving the book a 'starred review') says, 'what makes his account of his ordeal extraordinary is the detail and precision Ralston, a former mechanical engineer, brings to the telling, from the almost minute-by-minute chronology of his ordeal to topographical descriptions of the ground he's covered in his life as an outdoor adventurer. 

As always, you can decide for yourself by reading the first chapter (pages 1-31) at BookBrowse - if you enjoy what you read up to that point, I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy the rest of the book.

This review first ran in the August 17, 2005 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

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