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Showing 1-8 of 8 reviews(3 star)show all reviews
on September 4, 2001
Given the plethora of reviews of this slender tale that gush with praise, my thoughts about this story are clearly contrarian. Actually, no amount of praise would be enough to describe Joe Simpson's courage, determination and strength in surviving seemingly insurmountable odds, while suffering tormenting pain, after plunging from a vertical face of a 21,000 foot peak in the Andes. However, my appreciation for this tale was marred by nagging questions about how Simpson ended up in his nasty predicament in the first place. Given the objective technical risks of the chosen route, wouldn't it have been wise to have a third member on the rope team? With several near misses along the chosen summit and descent routes before the "final" disaster, would "tempting fate" (one of the chapters in the book) be a better name for the book? Was achieving a first ascent more important than making a successful descent? The tale infers Simpson's partner was unsettled about leaving base camp, so why didn't he try harder to confirm his assumption that Simpson had died before making a decision to leave the area? I would be first in line to hear Simpson teach a lesson on courage, but I would think twice before taking a lesson on mountaineering from these guys. Moreover, the substance of this tale seems better suited to a short story or magazine article than a book.
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on June 22, 1998
I bought and read this book as a result of the comments posted on this page. The book is a quick read and I finished it in one day. However, this is not a five star book. Simpson went through a very terrifying experience and the situations he overcame were remarkable. Yet, his prose is not very eloquent. The story seems to meander all over the place and I never felt myself being drawn in. All in all, it was a pleasant read and an exciting story but not worthy of 5 stars, meaning that it was one of the best books I have ever read.
For an exciting adventure that makes this story look tame, try reading Shackeltons Incredible Voyage (something like that)
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on January 9, 2002
Although this book kept me on the edge of my seat, I was very bored just waiting for the ACCIDENT to happen (~p. 63 of paperback). The descriptions of the terrain, etc. were confusing, even with helpful glossary in the back. Joe's agony seemed to go on and on (intentional & effective), but I also couldn't wait until the end, which was extremely abruptive & disappointing. I wonder when the Postscript was added; it helped somewhat, but was not enough for me to be satisfied with this book. I only hope the best for Joe, (didn't care for Simon's attitude), but there are better mountain-climbing adventures out there.
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on July 31, 1998
A very "harrowing" tale, but I have to agree with other reviewers that something in the writing was missing that made this just an average climbing book. The first half kept me interested, but the second tended to lose my interest. You're really not sure what happens to the characters afterwards and how it affects their lives, but I guess that's it the sequel, "The Game of Ghosts." I recommend "Into Thin Air" as a better told climbing story.
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on March 5, 2001
The story of how the author survives breaking his leg on this winter mountain hike is riveting. However, I found the book tough to read due to the language. Many of the terms were unfamiliar me. The book includes a glossary at the end, but I needed the glossary to be about 10 times as large. If you are looking for a good outdoor adventure book try one by Jon Krakauer (Into Thin Air or Into The Wild).
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on February 20, 2003
I don't know whose idea it was to pick this reader for the book-on-tape edition, but he was very hard to listen to. He does have an accent but I could have gotten used to that, the main problem is his flat tone of voice. This is an exciting story but he reads it like he is reading his grocery list. My mind kept drifting while I listened to him. I recommend getting the book instead of the cassette.
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on May 13, 1999
I almost cringe just thinking about this story. Psychology majors should check Touching the Void and This Game of Ghosts to analyze the effects of childhood and family dynamics on adult behavior. Simpson is not the best writer, but Touching the Void definitely exemplifies the harsh decisions that mountaineers are forced to make.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 14, 2002
Reading 'Touching the Void' by Joe Simpson I was left with some very strong impressions, most of which are probably not what the author intended. Firstly, the book is full of jargon not used outside of the niche world of climbers; I found myself looking up many words in the dictionary (hint to Simpson: how about having a glossary in the next edition of the book?). Secondly, the book reads like nothing more than a collection of glib diary entries. Fine for the likes of Anne Frank, but this book would have been a better if written by someone else (hint to Simpson: climbing mountains and writing books don't mix). Lastly, I am ASTOUNDED at how such an obviously intelligent man like Joe Simpson got himself into such a horrific mess climbing a mountain ... with the end result he is left with injuries he'll live (and suffer) with the rest of his life. I did NOT get the feeling "gee Joe, you're one helluva survivor". You shouldn't have gotten into the life-threatening situation in the first place.
For those who haven't guessed, this book is the real-life adventure of Joe Simpson as he and a friend climb an icy peak in South America. Even though both individuals have climbing experience, both acted wrecklessly (IMHO) whilst on the climb. Joe suffers a serious fall and, no doubt enduring pain that perhaps only a holocaust victim can relate to, manages to make it back on his own. Inspiring? No doubt for some, but not so for this reader.
Bottom line: the book delivers both "how not to climb mountains" and "never, EVER give up" messages. Unfortunately it is not well-written. Perhaps best left to climbers and, more so, wannable climbers.
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