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Book Review: Dead Lucky by Lincoln Hall

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I had eagerly anticipated the arrival of Dead Lucky, by Lincoln Hall. It was to be the first book that I would review for Blogcritics, and what a first book it would be. I mean how many people out there are able to say that they were left on Mt. Everest to die, and somehow survived not only the night, but the challenging hike down the mountain? I could tell I would already admire such an incredible feat of courage.

The opening of the book was quite intriguing, especially for someone like me, who has a very limited knowledge of hiking. I could tell that the author was trying to connect me with the reason he felt he needed to hike this mountain, and defy past failure. I continued reading the book with a great hunger to find out more in regards to whom he had climbed this mountain with, zooming in on those people who had left him there to die. I had heard past stories of people being left to die on Everest, the unethical ethics of Everest. Yet my mind could not seem to wrap itself around the idea of being, albeit vainly, left to die – how dramatically this must have altered his life. I mean those who have had a brush with death always seem to have sought to make sure they lived all that was left of life to its fullest.

I must say I was quite disappointed as I continued to read Dead Lucky. There was the fact that I learned very little about the team he climbed with, though every once in awhile there was a tidbit thrown in about someone on the team. But I didn’t really get a clear picture of what it was like to hike with that team. I tried to give the author the benefit of the doubt, especially since he spoke a lot about how the lack of air really can affect such facets as your thoughts, memories, and more. But I was left longing for something more – Mr. Hall seemed almost detached from the story he was penning, a story which I would have expected to have been life altering.

"The day I summitted Mount Everest was the day I died." Perhaps that detachment could have come from the experiences he had on his way up the mountain, as he passed countless bodies of those who had failed to survive that great mountain Everest.

At the end of Dead Lucky I was left with conflicting emotions, a feeling of: Is this really the end? It seemed like there was so much more to say that was never said. So I will wait in eager anticipation for the sequel; maybe it will be something like, Life After Everest? Because I don’t think that the story has been completed.

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About Esther

  • A better Everest book to read is ‘Into Thin Air’ by John Krakauer. You should also read ‘Endurance’ by Alfred Lansing-it’s about Ernest Shackleton’s voyage to Antartica in which their boat sank, they ate penguins and sled dogs, and finally got rescued one and a half years later on Elephant Island. The last paragraph will make you cry.

    ‘Kon Tiki’ by Thor Heyerdahl is another must read. He’s the fellow who built a balsa raft and floated from Peru to Polynesia.

  • Cheryl Harris

    You should really read “The Will To Climb” by my husband Richard Harris, it tells the real story of Lincoln Halls Everest expedition.
    Take a look at the backcover.

  • Hi Cheryl- Thank you so much for the recommendation! I took a look at the back cover, and it looks very interesting. I will go pickup a copy.

  • Being a connoisseur of human folly, I’m a fascinated spectator of high altitude mountaineering stories.

    And on a mountain that, by it’s very nature, seems to attract an inordinate proportion of sociopaths & narcissists, I’m not really surprised when I realize some mountaineer I’m reading about seems rather self-centered, emotionally immature, and/or lacking the normal social connections & human motivations most of us tend to have.

    And I’m afraid this author/climber seems to be among those.

    I sensed the “detached” thing from the get-go. It was as if he was describing himself as a larger than life, suave, fictional character. I couldn’t even force myself halfway through the book because my stomach was turning at the intense vanity.
    And I’m glad I didn’t bother, because it sounds like, from this review, from his perspective, he didn’t experience any type of substantial relationships with other climbers, good or bad.
    It’s very disappointing, because by the title, I would’ve expected a bit of self-deprecating humour, at the very least. And the fact that Andrew Brash calls him “friend”, I’d assumed he had some measure of humility & gratitude about the importance of other people to him.
    But I guess not. The book portrays someone who fails to really see & connect to other people. It’s like other people are meaningless props, and even the wife & children seem to be portrayed as little more than prized possessions, existing to worship the supposedly suave brave character.

    The humanity you find in the books by Krakauer & Kodas seems to be completely missing in this book. I sensed more spirit & connection in the most dry examples of Dave Hahn’s technical prose. Andrew Brash’s 2 line quotes in news articles had more depth & feeling regarding the escapade.

    And as for the author’s professed (arrogantly pushed) religion… a religion of humility supposedly. It seems like he’s missed the forest for the trees and has some pretty weird attachments to desires that even most non-Buddhist materialistic people wouldn’t be fostering.

    I’m assuming the people who gave this book rave reviews either have a personal stake, or had just a very narrow interest in the specific climbing aspects of the incident… and a very strong stomach for someone shamelessly massaging their own ego.

  • Jude

    I’ve just started reading this book and so far I like it very much. I don’t believe that the author “fails to really see or connect to people” or is “detached”, I think he makes it very clear how much his family and friends-and living- mean to him.

    Nothing like being left to die all alone in the bleakest of landscapes to put all things in perspective.

    I really like Hall’s writing style, and how he perceives the world, so off I go to continue reading more…