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Summer reading that could save your life

This book educates us about the intense and unforgiving power of lightning.
From the Fall 2005 issue of Trail Tracks, the magazine of American Trails

Shattered Air book cover
Shattered Air by Bob Madgic

Shattered Air: A True Account of Catastrophe and Courage on Yosemite's Half Dome

Review by Pam Gluck, Executive Director, American Trails

I just finished a new book that should meet anyone's criteria for good summer reading— page-turning excitement, adventures in the backcountry, and a cast of interesting and courageous characters.

But I also recommend you read it because of the unforgettable way this true story will make you more aware of your surroundings and potential dangers. Every person who spends time in the outdoors should read Shattered Air: A True Account of Catastrophe and Courage on Yosemite's Half Dome, by Bob Madgic.

On the evening of July 27, 1985, five hikers made the fateful choice to hike to the summit of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, even as the sky darkened and thunder rolled. By night's end, two would be dead from a lightning strike, three gravely wounded, and desperate EMT's would be overseeing a harrowing post-midnight helicopter rescue. Madgic claims that "in the annals of hiking tragedies caused by lightning," this was "one of the most calamitous... of all time."

Shattered Air is a haunting account of recklessness, tragedy, courage and rescue, a book whose depiction of Nature's fearsome power is tempered by unforgettable portraits of human courage and the will to survive. Madgic's book educates us about the intense and, sometimes, unforgiving power of lightning. Readers will have a new respect for lightning after reading this book.

This book was especially vivid for me because I've also climbed Half Dome in the summer. Bob Madgic's Shattered Air reminds us more than ever that we must sharpen our awareness and be prepared for all of Nature's dramatic moods.

Bob Madgic is a Redding, California resident, a writer on the outdoors and a Half Dome climbing veteran. Shattered Air is published by Burford Books.

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