Good Reads - Nonfiction
To the Limit – True Stories of Survival
Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival by Norman Ollestad - 2009, 288 p.
Set in the late 1970s, this riveting memoir, written in crisp, concise prose, recalls Ollestad’s childhood and the magnetic man whose determination and love infuriated and inspired him and ultimately saved his life. In 1979, when his airplane crashes into the side of a mountain killing three, including his father, 11-year-old Ollestad, using the athletic skills he learned in competitive downhill skiing, must survive amid the twisted wreckage, the bodies and the bone-chilling cold of the blizzard atop an 8,600-foot mountain. Emphasizing the themes of courage, love and endurance, this book is an inspiring and fascinating read.
Man Down: A Firefighter's Story of Survival
and Escape from the World Trade Center by Richard Picciotto
- 2002, 243p.
In this gritty personal account of the September 11 World
Trade Center attack, FDNY Battalion Chief Richard Picciotto
tells his story. After rushing into the North Tower to
rescue survivors, he was surrounded by smoke and carnage
when he felt the South Tower collapse. Making the call
to evacuate all rescue workers, he stayed behind to aid
disabled victims, only to be trapped under the wreckage
of the North Tower's fall. A rugged story from one
of the heroes of that day.
Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail by Malika Oufkir
- 2001, 293p.
At the age of 5, Malika Oufkir was adopted
by King Muhammad V of Morocco and was taken from her
home to grow up among
royalty. But when her father was killed for plotting to
kill the king, Malika, her mother, and her four younger
siblings were imprisoned. Together they endured twenty
years of degradation, solitary confinement, and desperation.
Her family's passionate will to survive is almost
beyond belief in this modern true story.
The Cruelest Miles: The Heroic Story of Dogs and Men in a Race Against an Epidemic by Gay and Laney Salisbury - 2003, 303 p.
An eloquent account of the famous 1925 dash by dog-sled teams to bring diphtheria serum 674 miles to the quarantined, isolated small town of Nome, Alaska. A seamless blend of Alaska’s early history and an anthropological survey of Eskimo traditions, coinciding with a page-turning chronicle of the race. A riveting epic that memorably honors the heroes, both human and canine, who pushed themselves to the limit to save others.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston - 2004, 354 p.
Ralston presents the story behind his self-amputation of his right arm after it was caught between a boulder and a canyon wall during what began as a routine day hike in the Utah Canyons. Ralston delivers the details of six days of entrapment, using transcribed monologues from videotapes he made while trapped, including his increasingly exhausted thoughts as well as poignant farewells to his family.
Hours: The Man Behind the Greatest Submarine Rescue in
History by Peter Maas - 1999, 259p.
When the U.S.S.
Squalus plunges to the bottom of the Atlantic during
its final test dive before deployment in 1939, the
hours tick by as the crew's survivors wait for any
sign of a rescue. Charles "Swede" Momsen, a
renegade naval officer responsible for developing virtually
all existent undersea rescue devices, commands the rescue
effort. This is the story of an incredible rescue and the
life of the man behind it.
the Amazon by Joe Kane - 1989, 277p.
of 1985, writer Kane joined an eclectic group of young
men and women to travel the full 4,200 miles of
the Amazon River, a feat never before recorded. During
the grueling journey by foot, whitewater raft, and kayak
ultimately completed by only two members, Kane's
survival skills were more needed than his writing skills.
From treacherous white water rapids to attacks from armed
rebels to leadership struggles within the group, this first-hand
narrative captures the physical drama and human drama that
lay along the world's mightiest river.
Harms Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the
Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors by Doug Stanton
- 2001, 333p.
In one of the worst naval disasters in
U.S. history, the solitary cruiser U.S.S. Indianapolis
was torpedoed after
returning from a secret mission at the end of World War
II. The captain and crew spent four hellish days and nights
without rescue, fighting for their lives in shark infested
waters. Tragically few survived. This is a vivid account
of the ordeal and the historic trial that ensued.
We Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance by David Armine Howarth - 1999, 208 p.
In the spring of 1943, with Norway occupied by the Nazis, Baalsrud and three compatriots plan to smuggle themselves into their homeland by boat, spend the summer recruiting and training resistance fighters, and launch a surprise attack on a German air base. But he’s betrayed shortly after landfall, and a quick fight leaves Baalsrud alone and trapped on a freezing island above the Arctic Circle. Poorly clothed, with a head start of only a few hundred yards on his Nazi pursuers, and leaving a trail of blood as he crosses the snow, he has to avoid capture and escape.
the Edge: The True Story of Four American Climbers' Kidnap
and Escape in the Mountains of Central Asia by Greg Child
- 2002, 284p.
In August 2000, four young and politically
climbers set out to climb the Kyrgyzstan mountain range
just 80 miles from Afghanistan. Suddenly captured at gunpoint
by militants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the
next six days are an unending nightmare. Written completely
in the present tense, this hour-by-hour drama recounts
those six terrifying days and also explores the politics
and the mountaineering beauty of the area.
Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War by Mark Bowden -
This face-paced nonfiction novel recreates
the desperate hours of American soldiers trapped in the
center of Mogadishu,
Somalia, fighting for their lives. U.S. Rangers and elite
Delta Force troops set out on a short term mission to capture
high-ranking deputies to Mohamed Farrah Aidd, but when
angry crowds downed their helicopter with a grenade, their
military purpose in Somalia evaporated amidst their desperation
to survive. The thoughts of soldiers course through the
pages of this book, making the battle come alive.
Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home by Nando Parrado - 2006, 291 p.
In October 1972, a plane carrying a Uruguayan rugby team crashed in the Andes. Waiting to be rescued, the survivors did all they could to survive, including cannibalism. Rugby team member Parrado has written a compelling story of friendship, tragedy and perseverance. High in the Andes, with a fractured skull, eating the flesh of his dead teammates and friends, Parrado calmly contemplates the cruelties of fate, the power of the natural world, and the possibility of living after such an existence. This is a fresh, gripping page-turner that will satisfy adventure readers, and a complex reflection on camaraderie, family, and love.
Prepared by Keith Barlog, August 2010