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Outdoors & Nature


Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster Lowest new price: $6.20
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Author: Jon Krakauer
Brand: Random House

National Bestseller 

A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that "suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down." He was wrong. The storm, which claimed five lives and left countless more--including Krakauer's--in guilt-ridden disarray, would also provide the impetus for Into Thin Air, Krakauer's epic account of the May 1996 disaster.

By writing Into Thin Air, Krakauer may have hoped to exorcise some of his own demons and lay to rest some of the painful questions that still surround the event. He takes great pains to provide a balanced picture of the people and events he witnessed and gives due credit to the tireless and dedicated Sherpas. He also avoids blasting easy targets such as Sandy Pittman, the wealthy socialite who brought an espresso maker along on the expedition. Krakauer's highly personal inquiry into the catastrophe provides a great deal of insight into what went wrong. But for Krakauer himself, further interviews and investigations only lead him to the conclusion that his perceived failures were directly responsible for a fellow climber's death. Clearly, Krakauer remains haunted by the disaster, and although he relates a number of incidents in which he acted selflessly and even heroically, he seems unable to view those instances objectively. In the end, despite his evenhanded and even generous assessment of others' actions, he reserves a full measure of vitriol for himself.

This updated trade paperback edition of Into Thin Air includes an extensive new postscript that sheds fascinating light on the acrimonious debate that flared between Krakauer and Everest guide Anatoli Boukreev in the wake of the tragedy.  "I have no doubt that Boukreev's intentions were good on summit day," writes Krakauer in the postscript, dated August 1999. "What disturbs me, though, was Boukreev's refusal to acknowledge the possibility that he made even a single poor decision. Never did he indicate that perhaps it wasn't the best choice to climb without gas or go down ahead of his clients." As usual, Krakauer supports his points with dogged research and a good dose of humility. But rather than continue the heated discourse that has raged since Into Thin Air's denouncement of guide Boukreev, Krakauer's tone is conciliatory; he points most of his criticism at G. Weston De Walt, who coauthored The Climb, Boukreev's version of events. And in a touching conclusion, Krakauer recounts his last conversation with the late Boukreev, in which the two weathered climbers agreed to disagree about certain points. Krakauer had great hopes to patch things up with Boukreev, but the Russian later died in an avalanche on another Himalayan peak, Annapurna I.

In 1999, Krakauer received an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters--a prestigious prize intended "to honor writers of exceptional accomplishment."  According to the Academy's citation, "Krakauer combines the tenacity and courage of the finest tradition of investigative journalism with the stylish subtlety and profound insight of the born writer.  His account of an ascent of Mount Everest has led to a general reevaluation of climbing and of the commercialization of what was once a romantic, solitary sport; while his account of the life and death of Christopher McCandless, who died of starvation after challenging the Alaskan wilderness, delves even more deeply and disturbingly into the fascination of nature and the devastating effects of its lure on a young and curious mind."

Into Thin Air is a riveting first-hand account of a catastrophic expedition up Mount Everest. In March 1996, Outside magazine sent veteran journalist and seasoned climber Jon Krakauer on an expedition led by celebrated Everest guide Rob Hall. Despite the expertise of Hall and the other leaders, by the end of summit day eight people were dead. Krakauer's book is at once the story of the ill-fated adventure and an analysis of the factors leading up to its tragic end. Written within months of the events it chronicles, Into Thin Air clearly evokes the majestic Everest landscape. As the journey up the mountain progresses, Krakauer puts it in context by recalling the triumphs and perils of other Everest trips throughout history. The author's own anguish over what happened on the mountain is palpable as he leads readers to ponder timeless questions.

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Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things

Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things Lowest new price: $7.95
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Author: Michael Braungart

A manifesto for a radically different philosophy and practice of manufacture and environmentalism

"Reduce, reuse, recycle" urge environmentalists; in other words, do more with less in order to minimize damage. As William McDonough and Michael Braungart argue in their provocative, visionary book, however, this approach perpetuates a one-way, "cradle to grave" manufacturing model that dates to the Industrial Revolution and casts off as much as 90 percent of the materials it uses as waste, much of it toxic. Why not challenge the notion that human industry must inevitably damage the natural world, they ask.

In fact, why not take nature itself as our model? A tree produces thousands of blossoms in order to create another tree, yet we do not consider its abundance wasteful but safe, beautiful, and highly effective; hence, "waste equals food" is the first principle the book sets forth. Products might be designed so that, after their useful life, they provide nourishment for something new-either as "biological nutrients" that safely re-enter the environment or as "technical nutrients" that circulate within closed-loop industrial cycles, without being "downcycled" into low-grade uses (as most "recyclables" now are).

Elaborating their principles from experience (re)designing everything from carpeting to corporate campuses, the authors make an exciting and viable case for change.

Paper or plastic? Neither, say William McDonough and Michael Braungart. Why settle for the least harmful alternative when we could have something that is better--say, edible grocery bags! In Cradle to Cradle, the authors present a manifesto calling for a new industrial revolution, one that would render both traditional manufacturing and traditional environmentalism obsolete. Recycling, for instance, is actually "downcycling," creating hybrids of biological and technical "nutrients" which are then unrecoverable and unusable. The authors, an architect and a chemist, want to eliminate the concept of waste altogether, while preserving commerce and allowing for human nature. They offer several compelling examples of corporations that are not just doing less harm--they're actually doing some good for the environment and their neighborhoods, and making more money in the process. Cradle to Cradle is a refreshing change from the intractable environmental conflicts that dominate headlines. It's a handbook for 21st-century innovation and should be required reading for business hotshots and environmental activists. --Therese Littleton

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The Last American Man

The Last American Man Lowest new price: $5.25
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Author: Elizabeth Gilbert

Finalist for the National Book Award 2002

In this rousing examination of contemporary American male identity, acclaimed author and journalist Elizabeth Gilbert explores the fascinating true story of Eustace Conway. In 1977, at the age of seventeen, Conway left his family's comfortable suburban home to move to the Appalachian Mountains. For more than two decades he has lived there, making fire with sticks, wearing skins from animals he has trapped, and trying to convince Americans to give up their materialistic lifestyles and return with him back to nature. To Gilbert, Conway's mythical character challenges all our assumptions about what it is to be a modern man in America; he is a symbol of much we feel how our men should be, but rarely are.

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Pure Sea Glass: Discovering Nature's Vanishing Gems

Pure Sea Glass: Discovering Nature's Vanishing Gems Lowest new price: $23.58
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Author: Richard LaMotte
Brand: Brand: Sea Glass Publishing L.L.C.

Pure Sea Glass is an incredible reference for any coastal enthusiast. More than 200 elegant images by photographer Celia Pearson present some of the best sea glass ever collected, along with samples of the classical glassware that is often its source. Author Richard LaMotte provides tremendous detail on all aspects of identifying sea glass, its historical significance, ways to assess rarity, and the most advantageous locations and times to search for it. The reader also is introduced to the science of how sea glass develops its uniquely frosted patina. LaMotte explains how crystalline formations on the surface ofsea glass shards transform them into highly prized gems. The book's colorrating scale is based on an intensive study of more than 30,000 pieces of sea glass. It helps readers determine how rare each piece in their own collections might be. A comprehensive assemblage of antique bottles and tableware informs the reader while paying tribute to the great American glass industry prior to mass-production.

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Planet Earth: As You've Never Seen It Before

Planet Earth: As You've Never Seen It Before Lowest new price: $14.95
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Author: Alastair Fothergill
Brand: Baker and Taylor

A visual odyssey that will change the way we see our planet, this remarkable book, companion to the acclaimed Discovery Channel/ BBC series, is an enduring and awe-inspiring record of one of the most ambitious natural history projects ever undertaken. Using the latest aerial surveillance, state-of-the-art cameras, and high definition technology, the creators of Planet Earth have assembled more than 400 stunning photographs of wondrous natural landscapes from around the globe, including incredible footage of the rarely spotted, almost mythical creatures that live in these habitats. Many of the images reveal inaccessible places that few have seen and record animal behavior that has never been filmed or photographed before. With the help of this highly advanced technology and the world's premier wildlife photographers, the book takes us on a spectacular journey from the world's greatest rivers and impressive gorges, to its mightiest mountains, hidden caves and caverns, and vast deserts. Planet Earth captures breathtaking sequences of predators and their prey, lush vistas of forests viewed from the tops of towering trees, the oceans and their mysterious creatures viewed from beneath the surface, and much more—in a magnificent adventure that brings unknown wonders of the natural world into our living rooms.

Copub: BBC Worldwide Americas

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The Thin Book of Naming Elephants: How to Surface Undiscussables for Greater Organizational Success

The Thin Book of Naming Elephants: How to Surface Undiscussables for Greater Organizational Success Lowest new price: $7.75
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Author: Sue Annis Hammond
Brand: Brand: Thin Book Publishing Co.

There's an elephant in the room that everyone knows about but no one is acknowledging. The elephant is implicit and undiscussable and lurks in every organization. Everyone talks around the elephant and thinks that everyone else knows about the elephant. But, until the elephant's presence is made explicit, the level of dialogue and therefore the quality of decision-making is limited. Sound familiar?

Using NASA's tragic accidents and Enron's bankruptcy as examples of the price of not having open, constructive dialogue, the book shows how great companies create an environment that encourages and listens to input from all levels of the organization.

After reading this book, you'll understand: The role of assumptions and multiple realities; why surfacing assumptions is so important; how to have constructive dialogue; why arrogance, hubris and smart talk gets in the way of constructive dialogue; and what strategies you can use to name the elephants in your organization.

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Performance Rock Climbing

Performance Rock Climbing Lowest new price: $6.97
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List price: $19.95
Author: Dale Goddard
Brand: Goddard & Neumann

Handbook for experienced climbers covers all the physical and psychological aspects of climbing training.

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  • PERFORMANCE ROCK CLIMBING

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Green Hills of Africa (Scribner Classics)

Green Hills of Africa (Scribner Classics) Lowest new price: $8.84
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List price: $25.00
Author: Ernest Hemingway

"There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things, and because it takes a man's life to know them the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave."
-- ERNEST HEMINGWAY

In the winter of 1933, Ernest Hemingway and his wife Pauline set out on a two-month safari in the big-game country of East Africa, camping out on the great Serengeti Plain at the foot of magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro. "I had quite a trip," the author told his friend Philip Percival, with characteristic understatement.
Green Hills of Africa is Hemingway's account of that expedition, of what it taught him about Africa and himself. Richly evocative of the region's natural beauty, tremendously alive to its character, culture, and customs, and pregnant with a hard-won wisdom gained from the extraordinary situations it describes, it is widely held to be one of the twentieth century's classic travelogues.

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The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet One Simple Step at a Time

The Green Book: The Everyday Guide to Saving the Planet One Simple Step at a Time Lowest new price: $0.75
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List price: $13.95
Author: Elizabeth Rogers

Ellen DeGeneres, Robert Redford, Will Ferrell, Jennifer Aniston, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Martha Stewart, Tyra Banks, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Tiki Barber, Owen Wilson, and Justin Timberlake tell you how they make a difference to the environment.

Inside The Green Book, find out how you can too:

- Don’t ask for ATM receipts. If everyone in the United States refused their receipts, it would save a roll of paper more than two billion feet long, or enough to circle the equator fifteen times!

- Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth. You’ll conserve up to five gallons of water per day. Throughout the entire United States, the daily savings could add up to more water than is consumed every day in all of New York City.

- Get a voice-mail service for your home phone. If all answering machines in U.S. homes were replaced by voice-mail services, the annual energy savings would total nearly two billion kilowatt hours. The resulting reduction in air pollution would be equivalent to removing 250,000 cars from the road for a year!

With wit and authority, authors Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas Kostigen provide hundreds of solutions for all areas of your life, pinpointing the smallest changes that have the biggest impact on the health of our precious planet.

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Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather

Warnings: The True Story of How Science Tamed the Weather Lowest new price: $15.13
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Author: Mike Smith
Brand: Brand: Greenleaf Book Group Press

Experience the most devastating storms of the last fifty years through the eyes of the scientific visionaries who took them on and tamed them.

For decades, the author, a pioneering meteorologist, has dedicated himself to saving lives by combining science, experience, and instinct. The struggle to understand nature's fury provides fascinating insights into the natural forces that shape our world, and the turbulent politics that influence our scientific establishment.

Tracing the Herculean effort to improve weather forecasting and advanced warning systems, the author draws fascinating biographical sketches of the scientists behind the breakthroughs, such as Dr. Theodore Fujita, creator of the Fujita Scale for tornado measurement.

With its gripping story-telling approach to major natural disasters, Warnings is narrative nonfiction at its heart-pounding best.

''I highly recommend this exceptional book.''
--Roger Pielke, Sr., Pielke Climate Science blog

''The weatherman's version of The Right Stuff--Mike Smith's Warnings. I recommend it highly.''
--Tom Fuller, The Examiner

''A fascinating journey inside the world of weather and the mind and heart of the meteorologist. A great read for anyone.''
--Bob Ryan, chief meteorologist, WRC TV (NBC), Washington DC, former president, American Meteorological Society

''This book chronicles the remarkable advances that have occurred in meteorology over the past 50 years--not through dry statistics but through very personal stories. The book discusses the virtual elimination of airline crashes due to wind shear and the thousands of lives saved by hurricane warnings. Its primary focus is on severe storms in the Midwestern U.S., but the issues raised about the evolution of forecasting the weather, and the impact those forecasts have on the people and commerce, are much more universal. The narrative throughout the book is engaging and compelling, and I found it very hard to put down after reading just the first few pages.This book is not just for hard-core weather enthusiasts or those who work in weather-related fields (though they will love it). Anyone who has ever watched a stormy sky on warm afternoon or felt moved by the images on the news following the Greensburg tornado or Hurricane Katrina (both of which are covered in this book) will get pulled into the narrative of this book.''
--Keith Seitter, Executive Director, American Meteorological Society Boston

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