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

ISBN: 1580801420

ISBN13: 9781580801423

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

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

The compelling account of recklessness, tragedy, courage and rescue, a book whose sobering depiction of Nature's danger is tempered by unforgettable portraits of the triumphant human spirit.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

TarpMan Learned a Lesson! - Get yours from SHATTERED AIR!!!

My passion is backpacking and photography. At 70 years of age, I continue to frequently hike and backpack into the wilderness areas of Northern California, as has been my custom for over 58 years! Now that I've read - and re-read - Madgic's remarkable true and chilling account of the tragedy, that ruinous July night on Half Dome, I shudder as I recall the number of times I actually enjoyed experiencing while backpacking the "wonders" of a full-scale lightning storm from the so-called "security" of my tarp shelter. Thanks to Bob, I now know how foolish it was for me to feel I was "safe-just-because" I'd pitched my tarp - I've not used a tent for over 30 years - in heavily forested locations! From now on, and if possible, I'll heed his advice and leave the area altogether! Who should read SHATTERED AIR? In this regard, there are three categories to consider. First, the "Must-Reads:" Anyone who's likely to have, directly or indirectly, an encounter with lightning! SHATTERED AIR should become a required text for all those involved with search and rescue training; ditto for leaders of hiking and backpacking programs - AND for those taking these programs. Similarly, it would make a fine gift for all Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. I'm sure you can think of others. Secondly, the "Thrill-Seekers:" Those who simply like a good action-packed book will not be disappointed with SHATTERED AIR. As a documentary, it's truly amazing how Madgic has organized all the essential elements in his thriller! Thirdly, the "Literary-World:" Writers will view with awe the remarkable scope of SHATTERED AIR. Madgic's skillful blend of history and geography sets a proper stage for the unfolding of the true and myriad details of his story that reads like a mystery novel. Madgic's acknowledgement cites 98 individuals who had key roles as resources for SHATTERED AIR. How impressive and encouraging it is to see what tenacity and perseverance can accomplish once an author resolves to write a book!


This is the true story of a handful of hikers who attempted to climb the venerable Half Dome, and faced a battle for their lives when a thunderstorm moved in. First, the writing: Bob Madgic writes a tale as gripping as The Voyage of the Endurance, or Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air. The adventure speeds along with succinct descriptions that don't bog down the pace of the story. He has an easy and straightforward style, encompassing many viewpoints and answering (or attempting to answer) the many questions a reader would have. Very, very well done. There are two main groups in this book: the injured hikers, and the many people who fight to save them. The heroes in this story are those who risked their own welfare to help total strangers. The main question, however, is what in the world made the hikers do something so incredibly reckless and stupid. Those honors go to Tom Rice, a charismatic young man who guides a group of hikers (both skilled and total novices) on a trail that leads into hell. Both of the victims in this tragedy were first-timers on the Half Dome, though many others suffered a physical and emotional toll. I couldn't put this book down, though I was discouraged by the ending (as often happens in real life.) Rice comes off as narcisscistic and contemptible, concerned primarily with a sad need for attention and his addiction to his adrenaline rush. He apparently never took an ounce of responsibility for what happened to the young teen novice who followed him up that rock, at least not publicly -- and from his reported future reckless actions that involved others, he seems to have come away from the whole experience primarily with a determination not to change even the slightest bit. It takes a lot of guts to look deep into your own soul. Rice didn't have that kind of courage. He could deal with the more macho aspects of his ordeal -- the pain, the operations -- but not the tougher self-examination that should have followed. It's ironic that of all the people on Half Dome that day, the self-proclaimed worshipper of strength and fearlessness proved to be the weakest of them all. And by the way... if Shattered Air doesn't instill a healthy respect in you for the power of lightning, nothing will. This is an extraordinary story. Don't miss it.

Responding to Mountain Goddess' review

As a key participant in this event, I am saddened that you would give the book such a bad review based on your desires to be mentioned. You did not give your real name on the review, nor the full name of the person we only knew as "Brutus". To my knowledge, there is no record of you contacting the rangers, nor did any of us who were there meet or talk with you. Mr. Madgic tried very hard to find Renee Miller for several years, unsuccessfully, to get her story. If you did, in fact, help in any way that night, those of us who were on top thank you for your efforts. It was an intense experience for all of us and, thanks to the years of effort writing this book by Mr. Madgic, it is now recorded in a beautiful, TRUTHFUL, and FACTUAL way. Again, I am sorry you feel left out after all of these years. Linda Crozier Ghilarducci (Hoog Party)

Helps to Explain Mountain Climbing a Little Bit

Half Dome is just about the prettiest mountain in the world. I've seen it from several angles, including overhead from a plane on an absolutely gorgeous day. I've never really had the urge to go walking up that vertical face. In fact I've often wondered just what it was that drove climbers to challenge the rock, to challenge themselves. Mr. Madgic calls the two principal climbers reckless. But he also explains that this was a typical decision that they would make as a way to conquer their own fears. I was left with several feelings. One is that their actions really caused a great deal of risk and effort on the part of the rescue people. Their own foolishness is one thing, but to cause others to be at risk is quite another. Two, any remote desire that I might have had to climb half dome is totally erased. I'll just look at it from a distance. As for the book itself. It is well written, it reads almost like a mystery novel. You are wondering just what's going to happen to these people. If it is evening while you're up to the lightening strike, put the book down right then. Otherwise you'll be up later than you planned.

Nicely Done, Mr. Madgic

I received and started reading this book this afternoon and had a tough time putting it down. I just couldn't read it fast enough. Like a person that reads the last chapter of a mystery, I had to skip ahead in places to see what happens to who, but I *always* went back to fill in the details. I learned so much because Madgic obviously researched and interviewed extensively and completely. He used this book not so much to entertain,which it does exceedingly well, but to educate so that others might avoid the same fate as those 5 hikers on July 27, 1985. If you ever venture outdoors during thunderstorms - do yourself a favor and read this highly charged book. -- Brian Cage's Party #4.
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