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Into the Abyss: How a Deadly Plane Crash Changed the Lives of a Pilot, a Politician, a Criminal and a Cop Hardcover – Oct 16 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Canada; Fourth Printing edition (Oct. 16 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307360229
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307360229
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 16 x 3.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #41,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jordana on Nov. 12 2012
Format: Hardcover
An amazing story incredibly well told. Carol Shaben transports her readers to a time and place while shaping the men in this tragedy with depth and humanity. I couldn't put it down.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By mary jane graham on Oct. 21 2012
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book! It was compelling and beautifully written - I couldn't put it down. The author has taken a story I knew only from newspaper headlines and crafted a compassionate, gripping, thorough and seamless biography of the both the event, the circumstances leading up to it, and the lives of the four survivors both before and after. This book left me very grateful to the author for having written it and left me wanting more
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Les Filotas on June 13 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book certainly deserves the high praise for literary merit and insight into the human condition noted by most reviewers. As added bonus, "Into the Abyss" provides valuable perspective on why it's so difficult to pin down the "cause" of an air crash (or other complex accident) involving "pilot error" (or "operator error"). These terms were excised from the lexicon of official investigations a long time ago in favour of euphemisms such as "findings as to causes" or "human factors". But, whatever words used to explain how and why an accident happened, effective measures to prevent recurrence start with substantive description of underlying circumstances.

In the case of the crash at the center of this story circumstances were complicated by clashing requirements of safe operation and pressure to cut corners--- on Eric Vogel, the pilot, to preserve his job or indeed his career; on Dale Wells, the airline operator, to keep his business profitable or indeed to keep his business at all. Moreover, the Canadian Aviation Safety Board, the investigative authority--established just a month earlier, failed to do its homework under pressure "to cement [its] role as a powerful and effective watchdog" over aviation safety. As it turned out, Vogel lost his career, Wells lost his airline and the Canadian Aviation Safety Board started a downward spiral leading to its dissolution five years later.

Shaben skilfully weaves this background into the central drama of four survivors coping in very different ways with a transformative event in their lives. Thus, readers primarily interested in an absorbing narrative of survival and redemption will be additionally rewarded with insight into the difficulties of sorting out "human factors" behind accidents involving the operation of complex machinery. Those primarily concerned with how and why complex systems fail will be additionally rewarded by an inspiring human story.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michelle M Hebert on May 8 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a member of Civil Air Search and Rescue and I found this book to be excellently written. Carol has shown the point of view of everyone involved with this tragedy. I felt it showed all the frustrations involved not only from the Search and Rescue side but from the airline, the pilot, the survivors, the target airport and the families.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lorrie R. Williams on March 11 2013
Format: Hardcover
I was given this book and as a dedicated non-fiction reader, I reluctantly started it. I read it in one sitting! It was well written and gripping. I appreciated knowing the background and then the aftermath of the four main characters. I think the night of the crash will remain in my memory forever. It is obvious Ms Shaben has the gift of excellent writing. It is obvious she spent a lot of time on researching the incident, the details (both technical and personal), and the effects of the crash. For anyone who wishes a glimpse into Northern Canada real life, read this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tundrapilot on March 1 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good easy read.
A must read for pilots.
Outlines the consequences of decision making gone wrong.
Great food for thought.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Louise Jolly TOP 50 REVIEWER on Dec 15 2012
Format: Hardcover
Story Description:

On an icy night in October 1984, a Piper Navajo commuter plane carrying 9 passengers crashed in the remote wilderness of northern Alberta, killing 6 people. Four survived: the rookie pilot, a prominent politician, a cop, and the criminal he was escorting to face charges. Despite the poor weather, Erik Vogel, the 24-year-old pilot, was under intense pressure to fly - a situation not uncommon to pilots working for small airlines. Overworked and exhausted, he feared losing his job if he refused to fly. Larry Shaben, the author's father and Canada's first Muslim Cabinet Minister, was commuting home after a busy week at the Alberta Legislature. After Paul Archambault, a drifter wanted on an outstanding warrant, boarded the plane, rookie Constable Scott Deschamps decided, against RCMP regulations, to remove his handcuffs - a decision that profoundly impacted the men's survival. As they fought through the night to stay alive, the dividing lines of power, wealth and status were erased and each man was forced to confront the precious and limited nature of his existence. The survivors forged unlikely friendships and through them found strength and courage to rebuild their lives. Into the Abyss is a powerful narrative that combines in-depth reporting with sympathy and grace to explore how a single, tragic event can upset our assumptions and become a catalyst for transformation.

My Review:

Into the Abyss is the true account of a plane crash that occurred on October 19th, 1984 piloted by then twenty-four-year-old, Erik Vogel. Erik worked for Wapiti Airlines, a small outfit that flew daily flights around the Alberta area, over Great Slave Lake in Yellowknife and often had the same passengers each week.
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