Tragic Tomes

Great books about bad luck

Oct 1, 2005
Outside Magazine

1907: The Man-Eaters of Tsavo , by John H. Patterson — Two lions savage a railroad work gang in East Africa.

1919: South , by Ernest Shackleton — His ship crushed by ice, the explorer rescues his men from certain doom in the Antarctic.

1939: Wind, Sand, and Stars , by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry — Tales from the pioneer of perilous flights across the Andes and the Sahara.

1955: A Night to Remember , by Walter Lord — The RMS Titanic's final hours.

1974: Alive , by Piers Paul Read — Stranded high in the Andes by a plane crash, Uruguayan rugby players survive by cannibalizing dead teammates.

1988: Touching the Void , by Joe Simpson — Injured by a fall on the Andes' 20,853-foot Siula Grande, climber Joe Simpson is dropped into a crevasse and must crawl down the mountain or die.

1992: Young Men and Fire , by Norman Maclean — The 1949 Mann Gulch wildfire leaves 12 smoke jumpers in ashes.

1996: Into the Wild , by Jon Krakauer — Chris McCandless walks alone into the Alaskan wilderness, destined to starve.

1997: The Perfect Storm , by Sebastian Junger — The six-man crew of the Andrea Gail is lost in a deadly October 1991 nor'easter off Nova Scotia.

2000: In the Land of White Death , by Valerian Albanov — In 1912, a Russian sailor, stranded in Arctic pack ice for 18 months, leads 13 men to seek help, but only two survive.

2000: In the Heart of the Sea , by Nathaniel Philbrick — In the event that inspired Moby Dick, after the whaler Essex is destroyed by an 85-foot sperm whale, the crew resorts to cannibalism.

2001: The Proving Ground , by G. Bruce Knecht — A storm decimates a fleet of boats in the 1998 Sydney to Hobart race, drowning six sailors in the Tasman Sea.

2002: Over the Edge , by Greg Child — Kidnapped by Islamic guerrillas in August 2000, four American climbers plot their escape in Kyrgyzstan's rugged Pamir-Alai Mountains.

2004: Shadow Divers , by Robert Kurson — A World War II U-boat wreck becomes a deadly seven-year obsession for a diving crew.

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