An eclectic, at times gripping anthology of adventure writing, featuring mostly Americans and Western Europeans in search of danger and excitement.
Willis (Epic, not reviewed) has culled 13 stories of survival and exploration from a variety of diverse sources, including books, Web sites, and periodicals. From Edward Marriott’s story of shark fishing in Nicaragua with local residents, to A Rumor of War author Philip Caputo’s safari to view the Tsavo lions of The Ghost and the Darkness fame, to renowned adventurer Reinhold Messner’s run-in with the mythical Yeti in Tibet, heart-pounding moments come fast and furious. Admittedly, some pieces fall short; among the particularly disappointing entries are Val Plumwood’s story of surviving a crocodile attack (overshadowed by a rambling diatribe on “ecofeminism”) and Sy Montgomery’s anticlimactic tale of studying dolphins and encountering death in the form of a local boy’s drowning on the Amazon River. However, armchair explorers will revel in accounts such as that of Rolf Potts’s trek by foot into the Libyan Desert or the heroic rescue efforts undertaken in the 1996–97 Vende Globe sailing race, chronicled here by Derek Lundy. Stories of the struggle for survival at sea are further represented by Michael Finkel’s account of a shared passage with Haitians bound by ship for the US, as well as a dramatic recounting by Neil Hanson of the infamous late-19th-century shipwreck of the Mignonette and the horrible choice that its crew made to survive.
In this sturdy collection, men and women removed from society face nature at its most primordial.