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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. 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.
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CAROL SHABEN was nominated for 3 National Magazine Awards, including Best New Magazine Writer, and won 2 of them, a Gold Medal for Investigative Reporting and a Silver Medal for Politics and Public Interest. A former international trade consultant and CBC writer/broadcaster, CAROL was 22, living and working as a journalist in the Middle East, when the crash occurred. She learned of the event, and her father's survival, reading a local newspaper.Review:
FINALIST 2013 – Hubert Evans Non-Fiction Prize
WINNER 2013 – Edna Staebler Award for Creative Non-Fiction
“With Into the Abyss Carol Shaben gives us an astonishing true story of catastrophe and redemption. Shaben writes from the inside out, as in the best non-fiction, creating a nuanced and tightly braided portrait of four men and their shared trauma that is by turns terrifying and deeply humane. Every line in this uniquely Canadian story rings true.”
—John Vaillant, author of The Tiger
“Into the Abyss is a shot of storytelling adrenalin, taut and riveting and poised beautifully between pure action and thought. An extraordinary reading experience.”
—Charles Foran, author of Mordecai: The Life & Times
“Carol Shaben is a meticulous reporter and, most importantly, a remarkably empathetic one. In Into the Abyss, she combines these skills masterfully to explore the full emotional impact of a horrific accident. The drifter she never met is as alive and complex in this story as her beloved father, and together with the other two survivors they weave a powerful tale about the limits of human resilience in the face of tragedy.”
—Chris Turner, author of The Leap and The Geography of Hope
“When a plane crashes in the mountains of northern Alberta, six people die, and four men of wildly different backgrounds survive—including a criminal on his way to court, who ends up rescuing his fellow passengers. But what makes this tale so remarkable is the meticulous way in which the author maps the human consequences of the tragedy: how it forged deep bonds among the survivors, and transformed their lives. This book leads us into classic, nail-biting Jon Krakauer territory—and then breaks new ground.”
—Marni Jackson, co-director of the Banff Centre Mountain and Wilderness Writing Program
“In her page-turning reconstruction of a small plane crash and its large aftermath, Carol Shaben vividly charts the emotional flight paths of four survivors, each an archetypal character entangled in a fateful web of incompetence and heroism, dumb luck and deliverance, guilt and salvation, trauma and transformation. Why, for some, does a deep shock act like a wake-up call; for others, nothing but an inexorable spiral into the abyss? In the end, the strangeness of true stories continues to rival fiction.”
—James FitzGerald, author of What Disturbs Our Blood: A Son’s Quest to Redeem the Past
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Book Description Random House Canada, 2012. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0307360229
Book Description Hardcover. Condition: New. NEW. Seller Inventory # GG 32