The Mountaineers Anthology Series, Volume I: Glorious Failures: The Mountaineers Anthology Series, Volume II: Courage & Misfortune

The Mountaineers Anthology Series, Volume I: Glorious Failures: The Mountaineers Anthology Series, Volume II: Courage & Misfortune

Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, 14, 281 285 (2003) Book Reviews Venomous and Poisonous Animals: A Handbook for Biologists, Toxicologists and T...

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Wilderness and Environmental Medicine, 14, 281 285 (2003)

Book Reviews Venomous and Poisonous Animals: A Handbook for Biologists, Toxicologists and Toxinologists, Physicians and Pharmacists Dietrich Mebs Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2002 US $129.95, 339 pages, hardcover Professor Dietrich Mebs of Frankfurt, Germany, has written Venomous and Poisonous Animals: A Handbook for Biologists, Toxicologists and Toxinologists, Physicians and Pharmacists. The book contains 261 color photographs and 71 black-and-white figures. The content includes information on the life history of poisonous and venomous animals and their toxins, clinical envenomations and poisonings, and clinical management. There is an introduction to toxinology, a very nice section on venomous marine animals, a section on poisonous marine animals, and then a discussion of terrestrial animals, including invertebrates (scorpions, spiders, ticks, centipedes, bees, wasps, hornets, beetles, caterpillars), amphibians, lizards, snakes, birds, and mammals. The figures are plentiful and of very high quality, with superb color reproduction. I found most of the clinical recommendations to be up-to-date but not very comprehensive or extensive. Furthermore, there is a bit of therapeutic nihilism, such as the advice that no specific therapy is recommended for a fire coral sting. Anyone who has suffered a fire coral envenomation will attest that it hurts and that there are effective therapies. Additionally, much of this book has been translated into English with the assistance of an Australian author, so oftentimes drugs that are mentioned are not in US formularies. The strengths of this book are in the descriptions of the creatures, discussions of methods of envenomation, and wonderful photographs. It belongs in the library of anyone within its intended audience who wishes to have a complete reference set related to toxinology. It provides more than a sophisticated overview—it is well written and quite fascinating. Paul S. Auerbach, MD Los Altos, CA, USA

The Mountaineers Anthology Series, Volume I: Glorious Failures The Mountaineers Anthology Series, Volume II: Courage & Misfortune Seattle, WA: Mountaineers Books, 2001 US $16.95 each, 236 pages (Vol 1) and 253 pages (Vol 2), softcover Many a glorious tale has been written of climbers’ exploits in the lofty places of the world. Many a heroic story has been told of the struggle to reach the summit, the fulfillment (temporary at least) found there, and the trip back down. The triumphant return to base camp, the joy of accomplishment, and the afterglow of satisfaction all are widely chronicled. The mountaineering literature is replete with such tales, and they are truly inspirational to those of us who bag a peak or two once in a while. Not so common are the tales of failures, of climbs that started and never finished, of summits almost reached but climbers turned around, of companions fallen and left where they lay as the mountain claimed their lives, and of mountaineers who did not return to their families. It is true that these tales are out there, but they certainly are not celebrated or embraced with the enthusiasm reserved for the tales of triumph. The Mountaineers Anthology Series is a new effort by the prolific outdoor publishing house to collect and abstract some of the best mountaineering literature written. Herein lie tales by some of the world’s most prominent climbers and chroniclers; some tales are from works long out of print. Each vignette is resurrected, thematically grouped with similar stories, and provided with a commentary. Volume I: Glorious Failures is about climbs that got away and summits never attained. We read of Belmore Browne and Professor Herschel Parker being turned back by storms merely 150 feet from the summit of Mt. McKinley on their third trip to the mountain. We learn of the effects of isolation, fear, and privation on the close friendship of David Roberts and Don Jensen as they attempt Alaska’s Mt. Deborah. Joe Simpson’s story of being plucked from the face of the Petit Dru by helicopter after his bivvy ledge collapsed makes me wonder if I really have the mettle to play this game. Stories of the 1939 American Expedition to K2 and what went wrong from different perspectives of the players are fascinating and offer a window into the human complexities encountered during such an undertaking, and they show the challenge of the mountain. Sixteen riveting tales in


Book Reviews

all, these stories reveal the tenacity and strength of the authors and how they learn from their failures. Volume II: Courage & Misfortune takes a slightly different tack from Volume I and makes it clear just how climbers depend on luck. Even the best-planned expedition, the best-executed route, the perfect team, the right equipment, and the most skilled climbers are at the mercy of fate and can be quickly humbled by storms, avalanches, rockfall, crevasses, and any number of other objective hazards of climbing. What shines through here is the commitment climbers have to each other and how often they rise to the situation to support those whom disaster strikes in the mountains. Here, we read of Reinhold Messner’s frantic search for Fritz Jager through a stormy night on Manaslu. Joe Simpson chronicles his incredible descent of Siula Grande after falling into a crevasse, breaking both legs, and being left for dead. The mind-numbing cold of ⫺148⬚F seems to creep upon me as I read about the first winter ascent of Mt. McKinley and the climbers who were pinned down by a sudden storm with 100-mph winds. David Robert’s compelling account of the deaths he witnessed in the mountains and his recurrent ruminations of ‘‘is it worth it?’’ haunt me still. Courage & Misfortune contains 11 enthralling chapters drawn from contemporary and historical mountaineering literature and is very hard to put down! Glorious Failures and Courage & Misfortune are not only about climbers and the incredible efforts they put forth to conquer their summits but their courage in dealing with the adversity that can strike in the mountains. In many cases they fail. People are seriously injured or die, and lives are shattered. In failing, they learn about themselves and reveal themselves to the reader, and we are left better for this glimpse of the indomitable human spirit, which is always striving for new heights. These books are fantastic collections of mountaineering literature and are definite must-reads for any who favor that genre. If you are not a fan of mountaineering literature, you may well be after perusing these volumes. The third book in the anthology series, Over the Top: Humorous Mountaineering Tales, is now released and is at the top of my list to acquire. It sounds like a slightly different take—a refreshing one—and worth a read. Rob Hamilton, MD Palo Cedro, CA, USA

Health and Fitness in Plain English Jolie Bookspan, PhD Monterey, CA: Healthy Learning, 2002 US $24.95, 363 pages, softcover Health and Fitness in Plain English is a comprehensive and entertaining review of exercise, nutrition, and health. As promised in the title, it is clearly written and easy to understand, combining interesting facts, practical information, and humor. Each chapter opens with a quotation relevant to the subject at hand. Chapters are divided into sections that are clearly outlined in bold text followed by a discussion of the topic. Important ‘‘take-home’’ points are contained in shaded boxes for easy reference. The text is divided into 3 parts. Part I, ‘‘Exercise,’’ begins with a discussion of the benefits and different types of exercise. It explains how to design an exercise program to meet individual goals and maintain them. Techniques for warming up and exercising specific parts of the body while minimizing the risk of injury are also addressed. Finally, many exercise and fitness myths are exposed. The information provided would be useful to anyone starting an exercise program. For individuals who already exercise regularly, it will help them get the most out of their workout. Part II, ‘‘Nutrition,’’ opens by guiding the reader through the maze of nutrition myths that we are all bombarded with today. In the next section, the nutritional content of many common foods is presented in chart format accompanied by text that clearly explains how to interpret the information. Sport drinks and performanceenhancing/health supplements are covered in subsequent sections. Part II closes with sections dedicated to healthful eating and healthful dieting. In Part III, ‘‘Health,’’ the focus shifts to prevention and treatment of injury and illness. It begins with a very good section on the etiology, prevention, and treatment of back and neck pain. Other sections cover cardiovascular disease, headaches, and leg cramps. The text closes with an entertaining chapter, ‘‘Funny Physical Facts and Foibles,’’ that tackles common but hard-to-answer questions such as what causes the popping noise when you crack a joint and why your foot ‘‘falls asleep.’’ Health and Fitness in Plain English is written to appeal to just about anyone interested in getting into better shape, improving his or her current exercise and nutrition program, or trying to live healthfully. The text provides a wealth of information and humor in a clear and comprehensive format that leaves the reader both informed and entertained. David Townes, MD, MPH Seattle, WA, USA