Greetings from The Raven!

Aug. 19, 2017

Holding Fast: The Untold Story of the Mount Hood Tragedy by Karen James

In December of 2006, three friends vanished when a snowstorm struck while they were climbing Mount Hood. For days the families stood vigil and prayed for their survival and rescue. One of the climbers, Kelly James, had been injured and was alone in a snow cave near the summit. He was able to have one final phone call with his wife and family before his phone went silent. Knowing something of his position, rescue worked to reach him. Before they could find him, Kelly died. His two companions, Brian Hall and Nikko Cooke vanished and were never found.

This is the story of three experienced mountaineers and close friends who in spite of all their skill were unable to defeat nature gone awry. The best-laid plans and the dedication and skill of these people who dare to challenge mountains and win can be instantly undone when sudden storms, avalanches, icefalls, and whiteouts leave them powerless and alone.

It is the story of brave rescuers risking their lives to help others. Although Kelly and his friends perished on Mount Hood, they were not abandoned to fate. Hours were spent in snowstorms and all kinds of weathers by rescuers genuinely concerned with bringing the climbers home alive.

It is also the story of faith under fire, the gathering together of people to pray for three men many of them had never met. It is a tale of the sorrow and crisis of faith brought on when a loved one dies and you just don’t understand how God allowed that to happen. Above all, it is the story of how Kelly’s wife and children held onto their faith through it all.

Karen Kelly writes a firsthand account of the unfortunate circumstances that lead to her husband’s death, the pain of parting, and the triumph of faith over heartache and despair. It is a fine read for persons whose faith is being tested by circumstances beyond control. The insight into the power of family and friends’ support; how prayer brings people together; and how it is possible to move forward positively after heartbreak is a guideline with which everyone can identify.

My condolences go out to the families and thanks to Karen Kelly for sharing her testimony. I gladly give the book five stars!

Quoth the Raven…

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Aug. 10, 2017

Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man's Miraculous Survival by Joe Simpson

In 1985, Joe Simpson and Simon Yates made an assault on the previously unclimbed West Face of Siula Grande, in Peru. Reaching the summit was a proud moment. Now, it was time to climb down. And that’s when disaster struck…

There were no fixed ropes, but Simpson and Yates were connected by 150 feet of line. When Simpson fell suddenly he shattered his right leg at the knee. In excruciating pain, Simpson was unable to do much climbing. Yates tied two ropes together, making 300 feet. He began to slowly lower Simpson bit by bit down the mountain.

Unfortunately, Simpson again fell. Unable to pull him back up, Yates made the only decision he could. Badly worn out himself, he had to ensure that he could climb down to base camp. He cut the rope, sending Simpson into a crevasse. Very certain that Simpson was now dead, Yates carefully made his way into camp.

This is the story of a miracle. By any odds, Simpson should have died. Unable to use his right leg, Simpson made a perilous journey back to camp, dragging himself inch by inch. The power of the human spirit is often amazing. In his own words, Simpson tells the story of his ordeal. His story is inter spliced with Yates thoughts, the loss of his friend and the guilty thoughts of his decision to cut the rope in spite of the fact that he knew he could have done nothing else.

Bravery and adventure in the world of mountain climbing! I give the book five stars!

Quoth the Raven…

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Aug. 10, 2017

Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest’s Most Controversial Season by Nick Heil

Above 8,000 meters on the high mountains of the world is a place where humans were never built to survive for long. On Mount Everest, there have been many cases of people who had to be left for dead because they could not assist in their own rescue. In 1996 when Rob Hall remained behind and refused to abandon a client, both ended up dying. That is the reality of the risk.

Of course, there have been those who were left for dead and ended up surviving against all odds. There was Beck Weathers during the infamous 1996 season. In this book is the story of Lincoln Hall. Left for dead, he was discovered alive the next day and successfully rescued.

Then there is this controversial case. David Sharp, a young British climber was found alive near the summit of Everest. Beside him was the body of a man called “Green Shoes” by climbers. The man had died long ago; his body unrecoverable. It is now used as a marker, to let people know where they are on the mountain.

When David Sharp was found, forty people simply climbed past him, paying scant attention. They left him oxygen and gave some minor assistance, but they all elected to continue the climb. Could Sharp have been saved if some of them had abandoned their climb and helped him down to the next safe camp? Would it have made a difference if he had been a member of one of the expeditions, instead of choosing to basically climb without support?

The question will never be answered. It is certain that above 8,000 meters, a climber knows that he or she needs to know when to turn around. As one climber has said, “Getting to the top is optional, getting down is necessary.” Do people become desensitized to the plight of their fellow humans on such climbs? Or is it simply that the knowledge that each person knows the risks and must be willing to accept that they are in the end responsible for themselves? Is it really too dangerous to even attempt a rescue?

This book explores the questions, without accusations and unbiased. It details the hardships of climbing Everest, how the mind and is I a story of how to survive, and how choices must be made.

I give the book five stars…

Quoth the Raven…

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Aug. 10, 2017

The Pierre Hotel Affair by Daniel Simone

My thanks go out to my contacts at Pegasus Books, Iris Blasi, Katie McGuire, and Maia Larson, for my copy of this book! Rock on!

In early 1972, Samuel Nalo and Robert Comfort, an associate of the Lucchese Crime Family, Christie 'the Tic' Furnari, and other members of their gang carried out a robbery that has become a legend! The target was the Pierre Hotel and $3 million in cash and jewels. Previously, the pair had been involved in the theft of $1 million in jewelry and cash from the Sherry Netherland Hotel, and major robberies/burglaries at other hotels including the Regency Hotel, the Drake Hotel, the Carlyle Hotel and the St. Regis. Nalo was a master planner and seemed to be the gang’s leader, but Comfort was also a major organizer.

In all, eight men joined together to make the assault on the riches held in the hotel’s safety deposit boxes: the afore mentioned Nalo, Comfort, and Fumari, along with Fumari associate Robert Germaine, Ali Ben, Al Green, and Nick Sacco. Germaine dressed as a chauffeur and stayed outside as the lookout. Entering the hotel dressed to the nines in tuxedos and using the name “Doctor Foster and party,” the gang quickly rounded up hotel employees.

After robbing the vault, the thieves gave each hotel employee a small amount of cash and fled into the night. This was the moment the plan began to fall apart…

 The planning and execution of this robbery and the breakdown of the gang as they turned on each other makes for some exciting reading. If I had one complaint about the book, it is that it goes into perhaps too much detail. I feel that perhaps forty pages could have been shaved off of the 402-page length. It’s not boring, per se, but it could be tightened somewhat. This is just one man’s opinion, you understand.

All in all, it was a satisfying read, and I will likely revisit the book at a later date! The book really brings out the characters, and that is perhaps better than the details of the crime!

I give the book four stars!

Quoth the Raven…

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Aug. 9, 2017

Tarzan: The Greystoke Legacy under Siege by Ralph N Laughtin and Ann E Johnson

The Tarzan legacy continues!

First of all, this isn’t your father’s Tarzan. Although based on characters created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the family continues past the characters in the Tarzan series. Once you understand that, you can fully enjoy this book.

In this book, the fourth generation of the Greystoke family faces the perils of the vast jungle. Tarzan’s great-grandson, Jon Greystoke, is following a different path from that of his forebears.

As a child of seven, he had a terrifying experience with a lion. I not for his father, Jackie and his grandfather, Korak, he would have died. And indeed if not for Tarzan himself, they might have all died or at least suffered serious injury.

This prompts Jon’s mother to state that Jon would never come to Africa again. After her death in a car crash, Jon did return a few times, but he never wanted any part of the jungle. He preferred to work with the family business, The Greystoke Trust, with holding worldwide. Jackie had been running the show with frequent trips home to Africa until the car wreck put him in a wheelchair.

Then everything goes to hell in a hand basket. Jon is returning to Africa on family business when his plane is shot down. The Greystoke compound is overrun and nigh destroyed by mercenaries. Back in England, Jackie Greystoke is drawn into court with alleged business practices that are tantamount to treason against the Crown!

Now, Jon is lost in the Jungle along with his grandmother, Merriam, Tarzan and Jane are missing, and Jackie is in prison. An old enemy has reared his ugly head after all these years, and it will take all of the Greystoke family to put their enemy down for good.

It’s different from most Tarzan stories, but it does grow on you. I give the book four stars…

Quoth the Raven…

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