Into the Abyss: An Extraordinary True Story Info

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Only four men survived the plane crash. The pilot. A politician.
A cop... and the criminal he was shackled to.
On an icy night in
October 1984, a commuter plane carrying nine passengers crashed in the
remote wilderness of northern Alberta, killing six people. Four
survived: the rookie pilot, a prominent politician, a cop, and the
criminal he was escorting to face charges. Despite the poor weather,
Erik Vogel, the 24-year-old pilot, was under intense pressure to fly.
Larry Shaben, the author's father and Canada's first Muslim Cabinet
Minister, was commuting home after a busy week at the Alberta
Legislature. Constable Scott Deschamps was escorting Paul Archambault, a
drifter wanted on an outstanding warrant. Against regulations,
Archambault's handcuffs were removed-a decision that would profoundly
impact the men's survival.
As the men fight through the night to
stay alive, the dividing lines of power, wealth, and status are erased,
and each man is forced to confront the precious and limited nature of
his existence.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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Ratings and Reviews From Market


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Reviews for Into the Abyss: An Extraordinary True Story:

4

Feb 06, 2018

Late on the evening of October 19, 1984, Wapiti Air Flight 402 crashed into a bunch of trees, outside High Prairie, Alberta. Of the ten passengers on board, one was Larry Shaben, father of the author. In this information-packed book, Shaben explores not only the crash that kill six passengers, but also offers a detailed exploration of the four men who survived—Larry Shaben, a politician; Erik Vogel, the pilot; Scott Deschamps, RCMP officer transporting a prisoner; and Paul Archambault, the Late on the evening of October 19, 1984, Wapiti Air Flight 402 crashed into a bunch of trees, outside High Prairie, Alberta. Of the ten passengers on board, one was Larry Shaben, father of the author. In this information-packed book, Shaben explores not only the crash that kill six passengers, but also offers a detailed exploration of the four men who survived—Larry Shaben, a politician; Erik Vogel, the pilot; Scott Deschamps, RCMP officer transporting a prisoner; and Paul Archambault, the prisoner. Shaben cuts right to the chase and discusses the night of the crash, where Vogel miscalculated High Prairie’s landing strip, going on to document the fourteen hours the survivors spent in a snowstorm, waiting for military Search and Rescue to locate them. While this would surely make a sensational book on its own, Shaben goes further, sketching out the history of Wapiti Air and its problematic flight record, the fallout of the crash that led to Transport Canada to strip Wapiti of its operating licence for a time, and the guilt Vogel felt for having been at the yoke. Offering snapshot biographies of the survivors up to twenty years later, as well as the pall of the deaths of those who perished, Shaben pulls no punches as she tries to offer a 360 degree exploration, without pointing fingers or offering vilification. Perhaps most interesting of all is the epiphany that Deschamps underwent in the years after the event. Veiled in his own secret struggles, Deschamps came out of the event the most scarred and lost, as Shaben discusses throughout. While no loss of life can be deemed insignificant, the crash of Wapiti Air Flight 402 hit home for many, shaping the lives of ten family irreparably. That Shaben can present this horror in such a well-rounded manner speaks volumes and is indicative as to the calibre of her writing. While it is hard to offer a recommendation for this book, I would encourage anyone with an interest in the subject matter to locate this book and learn so much in short order.

It is surely not an easy thing to tackle such an emotional subject, but Carol Shaben does it in a professional manner. Her personal investment in the story is obvious from the outset, as Shaben explains how she was in the Middle East and read a small article that hit the international wires. To offer a succinct, yet thorough, context to the events allows the reader to educate themselves without being bogged down in minutiae. Through detailed interviews and document retrieval, Shaben is able to develop a strong foundation that keeps the book progressing nicely. While it is impossible to ignore the six who died (particularly when one was Grant Notley), Shaben does not dwell on them, choosing instead to develop a story to explore how the crash changed the lives of the four men who were rescued. Being sufficiently dramatic in parts, without turning things into a sob story, the author pulls the reader in and keeps their attention throughout. One miscalculation led to a domino reaction, but who’s to blame, if anyone?

Kudos, Madam Shaben, for such an impactful story that pulls the reader in from the outset. I know someone who was personally impacted by these events and I could not have asked for a more professional presentation, weighing information against the need for privacy.

Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:
http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
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4

Jul 07, 2013

My kind of book! And to think how I found it. Can you believe I spotted this book on a huge wall advertisement on the ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island(it pays to advertise)? Serendipity!

The ad and subtitle immediately caught my attention. Four men who survive a plane crash, the pilot, a politician, a cop and the criminal he was shackled to...all the elements of an adventuresome, adrenaline read. I'll say it again, my kind of book.

I knew from the outset that I'd be interested in how the My kind of book! And to think how I found it. Can you believe I spotted this book on a huge wall advertisement on the ferry from Vancouver to Vancouver Island(it pays to advertise)? Serendipity!

The ad and subtitle immediately caught my attention. Four men who survive a plane crash, the pilot, a politician, a cop and the criminal he was shackled to...all the elements of an adventuresome, adrenaline read. I'll say it again, my kind of book.

I knew from the outset that I'd be interested in how the plane crashed and how the details of four men's survival. Shaben did not disappoint here. What truly made the book for me was the rest of the story, what happened to the survivors and how it changed their lives.

I was fascinated with the setting, Alberta, CA, and environs. Even though I was visiting Vancouver at the time this book came under my radar, I feel I have much to learn about this region and our neighboring country. The whole business of bush or commuter pilots and small passenger planes was intriguing, something I hadn't thought much about but will undoubtedly stay in my memory. I'm not certain you'll find me on a under 100 seater anytime soon. There was a lot to consider in what caused this crash. Weather, pilot inexperience, error or fatigue, the airline mentality of the flight must go, equipment failure, all seemed to have its part in this disaster. Though four men lived, six others lost their lives on this icy night in October, 1984.

Carol Shaben is the daughter of one of the survivor's, Larry Shaben, the first Muslim to be elected to high office. She learned of his plight while reading a newspaper in the Middle East where she was a journalist. The book is as much a probe into understanding her father's feelings about the event, one he would talk little about, as it is to the event as it related to the other survivors. She succeeds on both counts. ...more
4

Feb 19, 2019

Sad that several lives were lost in this plane crash, but interesting story of the survivors, some of whom were especially memorable characters.
1

Jun 14, 2013

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. (And FYI: Holy shit. I actually feel mean writing this). Anyway, let's get on with it.

This book motivated me to create a new shelf called ZZZZzzzZZZZzz.

So, a small commuter plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness in 1984. The four survivors spend a frigid night on a mountaintop while awaiting rescue. The daughter of one of the survivors goes on to write a book about the entire ordeal.

You bored yet? Don't worry, you will be.

I can see why Carol Shaben finds this REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS. (And FYI: Holy shit. I actually feel mean writing this). Anyway, let's get on with it.

This book motivated me to create a new shelf called ZZZZzzzZZZZzz.

So, a small commuter plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness in 1984. The four survivors spend a frigid night on a mountaintop while awaiting rescue. The daughter of one of the survivors goes on to write a book about the entire ordeal.

You bored yet? Don't worry, you will be.

I can see why Carol Shaben finds this topic more fascinating than the rest of us do. After all, her father was one of the survivors. But let's cut away the fluff and get to the bare bones of this memoir.

Our four survivors are a politician, a pilot, a cop, and a criminal with a drinking problem. Know what happens after they're rescued?

The politician leaves office and becomes a political activist instead.

The pilot doesn't get hired at any airlines because of the little commuter jet snafu on his record, but he eventually finds work as a pilot again.

The cop leaves the police force and travels the world. Then he returns to Canada and becomes a cop again.

The criminal is pardoned, enjoys a brief period of sobriety, falls off the wagon, goes broke, and dies.

Notice how nothing really changes? Not exactly a harrowing account of 72 days of survival and transformation, is it?

All that really happened in this book was that four guys had their lives briefly interrupted by a puddle-jumper crash and a cold night on a Canadian mountaintop.

I suppose Shaben could have gotten away with it if she were a better writer, but I just couldn't stand it. Shaben writes a lot like one of my C students in English 101: her repetition got to me (using the word "moan" two or three times per page to describe the aftermath of the crash), and passages like "slugs the size of bananas" (were they banana slugs, perhaps?) and "rakish good looks that wouldn’t seem out of place on the set of a Western movie" mean nothing to me.

This whole book begs for a good rewrite, or at least an editor who knows how to breathe a little life into bland and boring prose.

All of this when I could have been reading (and mocking) Pretty Little Liars or the new Dan Brown book. Ah well. C'est la vie.

Sucked.
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5

Apr 03, 2018

I read this book a few years ago and I still think about it from time to time, such was its impact on me. A powerful tale not only of surviving a plane crash in the wilderness, but how that ordeal transforms the lives of those that survived. Fascinating, beautifully written and heartbreaking.
2

Jun 24, 2013

(2.5*)

First I should say that I would never in a million years have discovered this book were I to limit my reading to e-books or online bookstores. I just happened upon in a little independent bookstore, thought it sounded interesting (it actually immediately reminded me of the premise of that Liam Neeson movie THE GREY, minus the wolves) and a couple of chapters in, was delighted I had happened upon it. Yay for bookstores. Sadly, things soon took a turn...

This is (yet another) case of an (2.5*)

First I should say that I would never in a million years have discovered this book were I to limit my reading to e-books or online bookstores. I just happened upon in a little independent bookstore, thought it sounded interesting (it actually immediately reminded me of the premise of that Liam Neeson movie THE GREY, minus the wolves) and a couple of chapters in, was delighted I had happened upon it. Yay for bookstores. Sadly, things soon took a turn...

This is (yet another) case of an overzealous copywriter or editor -- whoever wrote the blurb, and hey, let's throw the cover designer for the UK edition in there as well -- setting readers up for disappointment. The blurb reads:

"On a freezing October night in 1984, a Canadian commuter plane smashed headlong into a high ridge of remote, rugged forest. Among the four survivors was a small-time criminal ... now free of his handcuffs and the only one to escape the crash uninjured. The only one capable of keeping the other survivors alive -- should he choose to..."

Cue the dum-dum-DUUUMMMM music, right?

That blurb is why I picked up the book, because that does sound like a book I'd want to read. Clearly, this criminal was some sort of dark-hearted, soulless, serial-killing psychopath with no conscience or regard for human life, and he held the others' very LIVES in his hands, and now as the cold and the dark and the snow closes in, and they're practically zero chance of anyone finding them, he gets to decide who lives and who dies. Maybe it's just me, but that's what I think the blurb infers.

Now I don't mean to minimize or belittle what happened to these men, who were in a plane crash and spent a night in the wilds of Alaska awaiting rescue while three of them suffered from very serious injuries that needed medical attention, but the "criminal" was a petty thief who was actually, it sounds like, the nicest guy out of the lot, and whose handcuffs had long been removed by the cop accompanying him because he'd been such a nice guy and clearly wasn't a threat to anyone. And while this criminal, AKA Paul, was undoubtedly heroic in his efforts to keep the other men alive (and to pull one of them from the wreckage) there was no sinister, eerie decision-making process as portrayed by the blurb.

It reminds me of that newspaper summary of The Wizard of Oz: "Transported to a surreal landscape, a young girl kills the first person she meets and then plots to kill two others."

What this book is really about is the problems that existed in the 1980s with the small, regional airlines servicing the inhabitants of the Alaskan wilderness, and how four men fared in life after their paths crossed in a horrific plane crash that killed a majority of the passengers. And that story, while interesting, is more suited, in my opinion, to a long form magazine article. Padded out to book-length, the story slows and, at times, gets a little boring.

The author is the daughter is one of these men, and I commend her for writing so well and for fighting to write about a story that is obviously as important to her as it was to her father. I just think this is the wrong medium, and the anonymous blurb-writer has made this worst by promising a story on the back of the book that the pages inside don't deliver.

The other downside to this book is that since the events occurred in 1984 and the book just came out, it's describing a problem (the practices of regional airlines) that's nearly three decades old, so the reader can't even summon some indignation or anger about it, because (if my obsessive watching of airline investigation docs is anything to go by) these problems have been solved.

Well-written, but can't recommend. ...more
4

Oct 25, 2013

There are a few reasons why I would be predisposed to appreciate this book. First, it happened in my neck of the woods just a month before I moved here. Secondly, at the end of his career as a military transport pilot, my father flew Hercules aircraft for 435 Squadron, one of the aircraft and the squadron that was deployed in the search and rescue effort. And then, after his retirement from the military, my dad worked for the Ministry of Transport as an inspector (a job he didn't like very much There are a few reasons why I would be predisposed to appreciate this book. First, it happened in my neck of the woods just a month before I moved here. Secondly, at the end of his career as a military transport pilot, my father flew Hercules aircraft for 435 Squadron, one of the aircraft and the squadron that was deployed in the search and rescue effort. And then, after his retirement from the military, my dad worked for the Ministry of Transport as an inspector (a job he didn't like very much except that it allowed him to continue to fly). He was still with MOT when this plane went down. (I'm eagerly awaiting a conversation with him.)

When I picked up the book, which I did for just those reasons listed above, I expected a dry, factual report on the crash, the events leading up to it and the follow-up. I was pleasantly surprised to discover a page-turner. Shaben crafts the book beautifully, with good pacing and well-drawn characters.

She does not, however succumb to sensationalism or judgement. She presents a balanced, objective account of the facts despite the emotional weight of her father being one of the survivors. It is a testament to her depiction of her father as an honest, humble and compassionate man that he clearly raised a daughter who could be unbiased and forgiving in the face of an accident that could have killed him.

Instead, it is clear that the blame lies across a broad spectrum: from the historical culture of the northern frontier to the regulated but competitive commercialism of our modern society. Shaben portrays each individual involved as a truly human, thus complex mixture of qualities struggling with his or her own journey in life.
Although well crafted, this is not a novel. There is no pat denouement. Don’t read this for a thrill – danger and survival is not always exciting - or for the satisfaction of watching the wrongdoer get his just deserts.

There are no villains and the hero is, after all, only human.
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5

Sep 27, 2012

I've just received my advance reader's copy courtesy of First Reads and was hooked right after reading the introduction!
24 hours later: This book did indeed grab me from the get go. The author Carol Shaben is a recipient of a gold medal for investigative reporting and her skills in this area shine through in this book which tells the story of a deadly aircrash in Northern Canada which took place in October 1984. The story is a personal one for her as her father, Larry Shaben, was one of the four I've just received my advance reader's copy courtesy of First Reads and was hooked right after reading the introduction!
24 hours later: This book did indeed grab me from the get go. The author Carol Shaben is a recipient of a gold medal for investigative reporting and her skills in this area shine through in this book which tells the story of a deadly aircrash in Northern Canada which took place in October 1984. The story is a personal one for her as her father, Larry Shaben, was one of the four survivors. The story is told, however, from the perspective of all four survivors and is well documented as to primary sources. The reader learns of the risks associated with being a pilot of small airplanes in the North and the factors which led up to the crash. Descriptions of the crash and aftermath were authentic and horrifying and for those who have lost family in similar crashes would be difficult to read. The story of the rescue and difficulties involved was eye opening and the inquest into causative factors was emotional. What makes this story different from many disaster stories though is the description of how the crash and their survival affected the lives of the four survivors. The scary thing I took away from reading this is that conditions may not have changed all that much when it comes to small plane flights and the difficulties pilots face as they are trying to accumulate hours. ...more
2

Jan 29, 2016

2.5 Stars

The only reason this book ended up on my radar is because it's a bookclub pick for next month. That being said, I do remember when this book came out (I was working in a book store at the time), and the blurb on the front definitely catches your attention. I like a good survival story and I figured it would be interesting to see where these men's lives take them and the relationships they form with one another (which is what I felt the books synopsis really convinces you the book is 2.5 Stars

The only reason this book ended up on my radar is because it's a bookclub pick for next month. That being said, I do remember when this book came out (I was working in a book store at the time), and the blurb on the front definitely catches your attention. I like a good survival story and I figured it would be interesting to see where these men's lives take them and the relationships they form with one another (which is what I felt the books synopsis really convinces you the book is about). And I'm a bit confused about why this book is classified as "Travel - Adventure"?? I think Canadian History would be more appropriate.

In reality, the plane crash and the one night they have to survive is such a small part of the book. Although in hindsight, what did I expect when the survivors only had to survive one night in the wilderness. I'm not downplaying that feat by any means, but I guess only so much can be said about one night. A large part of the book is about the safety, or lack there-of, of the small plane company that the pilot was working for (Wapiti Airlines). While this information was a bit shocking and made me feel badly for the poor pilot and all of the victims of small commuter plane crashes, I couldn't help but think about the relevance to today's small commuter airlines. Are these issues still a problem? Do safe flying practices still come second to transporting passengers?

The author is the daughter of one of the survivors, Larry Shaben, who was a prominent figure in Alberta politics back in the 80s, so I can see why this was an important story for her tell. And since I live in Alberta and grew up here, I could appreciate the landscape and the geography much more than probably someone reading this book who has not lived in or been to Alberta. It's always neat to read about a book that is set in your home province.

Of course though, I was just over a year old when this plane crash happened, so I have no recollection of this event or the impact it may have had on people and our government (Grant Notley, Rachel Notley's daughter, was leader of the Alberta NDP party at the time and killed in this plane crash). I think this book should have and needed to be written many years ago, especially since a huge part of it was looking into the safety issues of this airline. I don't know. I don't think I could recommend this book to anyone except for my mom (who happened to read my copy while she was visiting me anyway), because I'm not sure who the right audience is anymore. While the author's father was obviously a very nice man and a huge role model in her life, these men aren't that memorable for myself and I didn't find their after stories very compelling. (Meaning, they survived a plane crash, went through the necessary grieving period, discovered they wanted to change things in their life, and rarely kept in touch - nothing GRAND or truly life-changing happened in my opinion). Not a bad book by any means, it just has a very specific audience.

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4

Nov 21, 2012

Accidents change lives. I should know, my parents were killed in a car accident and my life is broken into two pieces: before and after that event. Maybe that's why this book spoke to me so strongly--I found this account of the four survivors of the plane crash very moving. I could recognize the dislocation and confusion that they suffered afterwards and sympathize as they struggled to get their lives back on track again. All four men had crises of some kind about what direction their lives Accidents change lives. I should know, my parents were killed in a car accident and my life is broken into two pieces: before and after that event. Maybe that's why this book spoke to me so strongly--I found this account of the four survivors of the plane crash very moving. I could recognize the dislocation and confusion that they suffered afterwards and sympathize as they struggled to get their lives back on track again. All four men had crises of some kind about what direction their lives should take, once they had been rescued. The RCMP officer, Scott, starts determinedly working his way through a bucket-list of items that he developed while laying in the snow waiting to be found. The pilot, Eric, works hard to find a new and meaningful career for himself and eventually claws his way back into the cockpit. The politician, Larry, doesn't meet his crisis until he gives up politics--and reconnects to his cultural heritage. They all do as well as can be expected. The poignant story is that of Paul, the felon, who is literally given a second chance at life as a result of this accident. He is hailed as a hero, the charges against him are dropped, he gets his job back and he gets his girl. And despite all of these advantages, he just can't keep his life on track. Turns out he chose the wrong girl and his inability to cope with that issue throws him into a tailspin that he just can't get out of. He dies, homeless and drunk, in the unforgiving winter weather of northern Alberta.

It seems we have paths that we follow in life--we make choices at each fork in the trail that we encounter and we have to be willing to make those choices everyday to keep heading in our desired direction. I chose to be happy again, not to wallow in bitterness. Its a choice I still make on a regular basis. It was fascinating to see these same struggles in other people's lives. ...more
4

Aug 24, 2012

I very gratefully received this ARC from the publisher and proceeded to devour this 'only-in-Canada' true story of survival, tragedy and heartbreak, and ultimate transformation. Carol Shaben had a difficult task with this as it is a deeply personal story - the surviving politician in the plane crash is her father - but she handled it brilliantly by sticking to the facts, and by heavily researching and presenting all sides to the story. The facts leading up to, during, and through the aftermath I very gratefully received this ARC from the publisher and proceeded to devour this 'only-in-Canada' true story of survival, tragedy and heartbreak, and ultimate transformation. Carol Shaben had a difficult task with this as it is a deeply personal story - the surviving politician in the plane crash is her father - but she handled it brilliantly by sticking to the facts, and by heavily researching and presenting all sides to the story. The facts leading up to, during, and through the aftermath of the crash are perfectly counterbalanced by the stories of the struggles of the four survivors in such a way that one is never bogged down by the other. Shaben's writing is compassionate without melodrama, factual without being dry. The story itself is almost low-key, in a purely Canadian way - the survivors are humble and guilt-ridden and forgiving. What is truly compelling is the story of the rest of their lives, after the crash, how it changed each of them in fundamental - but each very different - ways, how it changed the trajectory of their lives. A classic transformation out of tragedy tale, pulled from the deep snow and dark woods of the Canadian North. ...more
2

May 23, 2013

I feel bad giving this book only two stars, but it should have been a long magazine article instead. The main problem is that the cover blurbs did not match what was inside. For instance, I'm sure surviving a plane crash is unbelievably traumatic, but the men were rescued after one night by a campfire, so I'm not sure you can bill that as "extraordinary." And yes, one of them was a (petty) criminal, but so what? Then, as another reviewer noted, the experience did not really transform these four I feel bad giving this book only two stars, but it should have been a long magazine article instead. The main problem is that the cover blurbs did not match what was inside. For instance, I'm sure surviving a plane crash is unbelievably traumatic, but the men were rescued after one night by a campfire, so I'm not sure you can bill that as "extraordinary." And yes, one of them was a (petty) criminal, but so what? Then, as another reviewer noted, the experience did not really transform these four men's lives as the cover suggests--they all took a break and then eventually went back to doing pretty much what they were doing before. Despite all this, I'm glad the author was able to investigate this important part of her dad's life. ...more
3

Aug 11, 2013

A solid and often moving account of a small plane crash (and its aftermath) in Northern Canada in 1984 that killed 6 but left 4 survivors: the pilot, a politician (the author's father), a police officer, and the prisoner he was transporting. Of the survivors, the prisoner was least hurt in the crash, and he kept the others alive through the freezing night until rescuers arrived the next day. The book chronicles the crash, the unsafe pressures in the rural aviation industry that contributed to A solid and often moving account of a small plane crash (and its aftermath) in Northern Canada in 1984 that killed 6 but left 4 survivors: the pilot, a politician (the author's father), a police officer, and the prisoner he was transporting. Of the survivors, the prisoner was least hurt in the crash, and he kept the others alive through the freezing night until rescuers arrived the next day. The book chronicles the crash, the unsafe pressures in the rural aviation industry that contributed to the accident, and the lives of the survivors after the crash to the present. Clearly, the book was a labor of love for the author, and she presents a warm tribute to her father. ...more
3

Jul 20, 2015

While the writing was fairly concise and captivating in this book - unlike some other non-fiction I have read, I'm not sure the actual incident itself was worthy of a book. The cover and blurb makes a big deal of the criminal being in the plane wreck when actually the fact that he's a criminal doesn't play into it hardly at all. The entire story is just kind of blah. They survived a plane crash and about 10 hours in the woods - which is in itself fairly incredible- I just don't think it's enough While the writing was fairly concise and captivating in this book - unlike some other non-fiction I have read, I'm not sure the actual incident itself was worthy of a book. The cover and blurb makes a big deal of the criminal being in the plane wreck when actually the fact that he's a criminal doesn't play into it hardly at all. The entire story is just kind of blah. They survived a plane crash and about 10 hours in the woods - which is in itself fairly incredible- I just don't think it's enough for an entire book. ...more
1

Apr 23, 2014

Oh no. Not at all what it promises. "Into the Abyss: An Extraordinary True Story -- Only four men survive the plane crash. The pilot. A politician. A cop -- and the criminal he was shackled to ..." ... promises the cover of the book. In reality, and I really don't think I'm giving anything away here -- the criminal was not "shackled" to the cop when the plane went down -- and the book is not really a survival tale. Yes the plane went down, yes the four men survived -- but that takes up less than Oh no. Not at all what it promises. "Into the Abyss: An Extraordinary True Story -- Only four men survive the plane crash. The pilot. A politician. A cop -- and the criminal he was shackled to ..." ... promises the cover of the book. In reality, and I really don't think I'm giving anything away here -- the criminal was not "shackled" to the cop when the plane went down -- and the book is not really a survival tale. Yes the plane went down, yes the four men survived -- but that takes up less than 1/5 of the book. Instead this is a meandering tale, with lots of jumps back and forth in time told by the daughter of the politician. Overall it is sort of interesting but not at all compelling. And not even close to mediocre in the survival/adventure genre this book is trying to be a part of. ...more
4

Oct 03, 2019

This is the true story of a 1980s plane crash in Alberta. At the time, it made quite a splash in the news, but I knew nothing of it. My older colleague, however, remembered it immediately when I mentioned this book to her. Twenty years later, Shaben returns to the story (her father was one of the survivors of the crash). Much of the story is about regulations, as opposed to a tale of survival in the woods. In fact, I learned more about bush pilots than I realized there was to not know. A lot of This is the true story of a 1980s plane crash in Alberta. At the time, it made quite a splash in the news, but I knew nothing of it. My older colleague, however, remembered it immediately when I mentioned this book to her. Twenty years later, Shaben returns to the story (her father was one of the survivors of the crash). Much of the story is about regulations, as opposed to a tale of survival in the woods. In fact, I learned more about bush pilots than I realized there was to not know. A lot of time is given to the aftermath of the incident, which I appreciated. Readers who are into survival stories but feel like they've read them all might find this one a welcome departure. ...more
4

Nov 06, 2017

Pretty good read. A lot of detail and background information on the survivors of this 1984 north Canadian plane crash and what became of each of them. Little to no details of the unfortunate six that were killed...
But the writing style is good! Glad the daughter of one survivor dedicated the time to write it.
5

Jul 26, 2017

Fascinating book. Of particular interest to anyone who lived in Alberta when the plane carrying Grant Notley went down in 1984. Written by the daughter of then-MLA Larry Shaben, who was also on the plane, and who survived. Carol Shaben is an award-winning writer, and this book is thorough, fast-paced and extremely well written.
3

Feb 02, 2013

By Carol Shaben. Grade: B+.

They say reality is stranger than fiction. That is exactly what I had in mind when I said yes to this account of a plane crash and the subsequent events that took place in 1984.

On an icy night in October 1984, a Piper Navajo commuter plane carrying 9 passengers crashed in the remote wilderness of northern Alberta, killing 6 people. Four survived: the rookie pilot, a prominent politician, a cop, and the criminal he was escorting to face charges. Despite the poor By Carol Shaben. Grade: B+.

They say reality is stranger than fiction. That is exactly what I had in mind when I said yes to this account of a plane crash and the subsequent events that took place in 1984.

On an icy night in October 1984, a Piper Navajo commuter plane carrying 9 passengers crashed in the remote wilderness of northern Alberta, killing 6 people. Four survived: the rookie pilot, a prominent politician, a cop, and the criminal he was escorting to face charges. Despite the poor weather, Erik Vogel, the 24-year-old pilot, was under intense pressure to fly--a situation not uncommon to pilots working for small airlines.

Into the Abyss by Carol Shaben
Overworked and exhausted, he feared losing his job if he refused to fly. Larry Shaben, the author's father and Canada's first Muslim Cabinet Minister, was commuting home after a busy week at the Alberta Legislature. After Paul Archambault, a drifter wanted on an outstanding warrant, boarded the plane, rookie Constable Scott Deschamps decided, against RCMP regulations, to remove his handcuffs--a decision that profoundly impacted the men's survival. As they fought through the night to stay alive, the dividing lines of power, wealth and status were erased and each man was forced to confront the precious and limited nature of his existence. The survivors forged unlikely friendships and through them found strength and courage to rebuild their lives. Into the Abyss is a powerful narrative that combines in-depth reporting with sympathy and grace to explore how a single, tragic event can upset our assumptions and become a catalyst for transformation.

Beginning with the cover: I loved it. The snowy scene in the background with a hand at the forefront very aptly described the tone of the book. The blurb was also interesting, as it focused on how four radically different individuals had to help each other survive in a ghastly accident that had already claimed lives. It highlighted the difference in the nature of the lives the four protagonists led, thus piquing my curiosity. The title is also great, very appropriate.


The book started out very well and the characters were well developed. Many people think that since the book is based on real events, it is not a very problematic matter to make the characters seem realistic, but I actually think that capturing the essence of actual people is harder than fictional characters, because real people have much more detailing, they’re way more complex and they have a lot of dimensions, as compared to a character that the author would have created themselves. Thus, kudos to the author for managing to get that part right. The author’s writing is also very refined, another thing I liked.


Having said all of that, there were quite a few things I did not like in the book. When I first read the synopsis of Into The Abyss, I was curious about how the author would manage to narrate a story that took place so many years ago without making it boring and all-factual, thus ruining it. Turns out, I shouldn’t have worried because the author did not even try to do that. Because the author is the daughter of one of the survivors, I was hoping for a lot more personal touches and a story that I could connect to, emotionally. Unfortunately, she's stuck to the facts. Obviously we weren't hoping for an exaggeration or a modified version of the incident - just something that would be interesting to read, even after being stripped of the bare facts.

It would have been an improvement if she'd also done away with going so deep into the technical details. They were hard to understand and I had to often go over the same paragraph more than once, and had to keep a dictionary handy because of the enormous words relating to the working of the airplane and how the crash happened. Again, I'm not saying she shouldn't have included that. In fact, the story would be incomplete without those aspects. But what I do mean to say is that it should've been a little more reader-friendly.

Overall, all I can say is that I wish the story had had a bit more of the emotional quotient. A well written book that lacked the zing I was expecting.



Originally reviewed at www.vaultofbooks.com ...more
4

Sep 23, 2013

Into the Abyss: An extraordinary true story, by Carol Shaben, 311 pages, Grand Central Publishing, 2012, $25

Into the Abyss was a 24-hour book for me. Actually, less – I stayed up until I finished it at 2 a.m. and spent the next few dogs recovering. And I didn’t even read the chapters in order.

Written by a Canadian journalist who was on her first job overseas when she reads in the newspaper that her father, a Canadian politician, was in a place crash, Abyss was spell-binding. And the fact that it Into the Abyss: An extraordinary true story, by Carol Shaben, 311 pages, Grand Central Publishing, 2012, $25

Into the Abyss was a 24-hour book for me. Actually, less – I stayed up until I finished it at 2 a.m. and spent the next few dogs recovering. And I didn’t even read the chapters in order.

Written by a Canadian journalist who was on her first job overseas when she reads in the newspaper that her father, a Canadian politician, was in a place crash, Abyss was spell-binding. And the fact that it was written by a family member gave it added fascination, especially since the author was professionally objective.

Nevertheless, Abyss reads like a novel.

Four men survived overnight in October weather up in Canada. How they survived their incredible injuries and how they were found plus what the next 25 years brings to their lives is a story that will leave you examining your own life. The convict on the plane becomes a hero and turns his life around after the crash – you desperately want him to succeed but will he? The pilot who shared the blame for the crash also manages to turn his life around - eventually.

Abyss makes you wonder how you would have acted that night and in the following years. It is a book I will not soon forget.

...more
5

Oct 03, 2013

The original headline for the book's cover ("Only four men survived the plane crash. The pilot. A politician. A cop... and the criminal he was shackled to.") was the most attention-grabbing I had ever seen. The story itself was extraordinary. The writing of the book itself, and the unreal amount of excellent research necessary to tell the story, was mind-blowing. This is an incredible journalistic achievement, with timelines of events lining up perfectly, and excellent insight garnered from The original headline for the book's cover ("Only four men survived the plane crash. The pilot. A politician. A cop... and the criminal he was shackled to.") was the most attention-grabbing I had ever seen. The story itself was extraordinary. The writing of the book itself, and the unreal amount of excellent research necessary to tell the story, was mind-blowing. This is an incredible journalistic achievement, with timelines of events lining up perfectly, and excellent insight garnered from those involved. Halfway through the book, the survivors are rescued, but the coda of their rebuilt and/or shattered lives continued to be compelling all the way to the end. To think, the author learned of the story from a newspaper article, and the entire book, with all its masterful storytelling and subsequent awards was fashioned beginning with simply that. ...more
4

Jul 10, 2013

A well researched, tautly written mix of journalism and true story telling. Ms Shaben's father, a prominent Canadian politician, was one of four survivors of a small plane crash in the snowy wilderness. Six passengers died.

Ms Shaben does an excellent job of describing the crash in detail and the means by which the four survived a long night before being rescued. She delves into the safety issues, the extraordinary rescue operation and the aftermath with a gimlet eye. In particular, she tells A well researched, tautly written mix of journalism and true story telling. Ms Shaben's father, a prominent Canadian politician, was one of four survivors of a small plane crash in the snowy wilderness. Six passengers died.

Ms Shaben does an excellent job of describing the crash in detail and the means by which the four survived a long night before being rescued. She delves into the safety issues, the extraordinary rescue operation and the aftermath with a gimlet eye. In particular, she tells each survivor's story, pre and post crash, with particular emphasis on how it affected them individually and collectively. It is both heart-breaking and uplifting.

It reads like an intelligent thriller but the fact that it happened lends it additional tension and poignancy.

Great stuff. ...more
2

Jul 15, 2013

The only reason I gave it a two star, was because I finished it. I should have quit half way through and given it one. I don't want to be mean spirited, but to me, the author wrote this because she thought that the whole story was wildly fascinating and why wouldn't it, her dad survived the crash. But to an outsider looking in, not so. I expected a great survival story, no food, shelter, water etc and trekking out of a wreck that couldn't be located. Wrong. That part only takes up 5% of the The only reason I gave it a two star, was because I finished it. I should have quit half way through and given it one. I don't want to be mean spirited, but to me, the author wrote this because she thought that the whole story was wildly fascinating and why wouldn't it, her dad survived the crash. But to an outsider looking in, not so. I expected a great survival story, no food, shelter, water etc and trekking out of a wreck that couldn't be located. Wrong. That part only takes up 5% of the story.
If you are interested in how humans react after stressful situations, maybe a psychology student, if you know the area and towns named, read it. If you want to read a gritty survival story, give it a miss ...more
1

Jan 04, 2013

I was really looking forward to reading this book based on the title and blurb. It started off well, but the author does not know how to stick to the subject at hand. Instead of delving into the crash and aftermath, she stops as soon as the crash happens and launches into a huge interlude of backstory about the various characters and their families. I think her journalistic tendencies have greatly interfered with her ability to reveal the key story. Basically, this reads like a first draft, with I was really looking forward to reading this book based on the title and blurb. It started off well, but the author does not know how to stick to the subject at hand. Instead of delving into the crash and aftermath, she stops as soon as the crash happens and launches into a huge interlude of backstory about the various characters and their families. I think her journalistic tendencies have greatly interfered with her ability to reveal the key story. Basically, this reads like a first draft, with everything in here including the kitchen sink. Wasn't there an editor who could have pruned away all the excess to let the story shine through? What a waste of a good story.
...more
4

Mar 19, 2014

Not a bad book that was written by the daughter of a small air plane crash surviver in the north of Canada in 1984. I enjoyed how the book concentrated on the survivers lives after the crash and not just the accident.

Four men survived and this changed their lives completely. I liked the way the author told the story, the bad with the good. She seemed to of interviewed as many people as possible to find out all she could. I read this all in one day, I just wanted to know how their lives turned Not a bad book that was written by the daughter of a small air plane crash surviver in the north of Canada in 1984. I enjoyed how the book concentrated on the survivers lives after the crash and not just the accident.

Four men survived and this changed their lives completely. I liked the way the author told the story, the bad with the good. She seemed to of interviewed as many people as possible to find out all she could. I read this all in one day, I just wanted to know how their lives turned out. I found out I'd never fly in one of those small planes. So many of them still crash every year. I'd recommend this book.
...more

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