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Adventure Stories Nonfiction       View List as Printable PDF

Real life adventure stories for adventurous readers. Hand picked by your local librarian.


Adventure Stories


The Bad Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: and their race to save the world's most precious manuscripts

The Bad Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: and their race to save the world's most precious manuscripts
by Hammer, Joshua
025.8 HAM
Journalist Hammer (Yokohama Burning) reports on librarian Abdel Kader Haidara and his associates' harrowing ordeal as they rescued 370,000 historical manuscripts from destruction by al-Qaeda-occupied Timbuktu. Hammer sketches Haidara's career amassing manuscripts from Timbuktu's neighboring towns and building his own library, which opened in 2000. Meanwhile, three al-Qaeda operatives, Mokhtar Belmokhtar, Abdel-hamid Abou Zeid, and Iyad Ag Ghali, escalate from kidnapping and drug trafficking to orchestrating a coup with Tuareg rebels against the Malian army and seizing Timbuktu. The militants aim to "turn the clocks back fourteen hundred years" by destroying revered religious shrines and imposing Sharia law, which includes flogging unveiled women and severing the hands of thieves. Fearing for the safety of the manuscripts, Haidara and associates buy up "every trunk in Timbuktu" and pack them off 606 miles south to Bamako, employing a team of teenage couriers. Hammer does a service to Haidara and the Islamic faith by providing the illuminating history of these manuscripts, managing to weave the complicated threads of this recent segment of history into a thrilling story. Agent: Flip Brophy, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Apr.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Deep Survival: who lives, who dies and why

Deep Survival: who lives, who dies and why
by Gonzales, Laurence
613.69 GON
After her plane crashes, a seventeen-year-old girl spends eleven days walking through the Peruvian jungle. Against all odds, with no food, shelter, or equipment, she gets out. A better-equipped group of adult survivors of the same crash sits down and dies. What makes the difference?Examining such stories of miraculous endurance and tragic death--how people get into trouble and how they get out again (or not)--Deep Survival takes us from the tops of snowy mountains and the depths of oceans to the workings of the brain that control our behavior. Through close analysis of case studies, Laurence Gonzales describes the "stages of survival" and reveals the essence of a survivor--truths that apply not only to surviving in the wild but also to surviving life-threatening illness, relationships, the death of a loved one, running a business during uncertain times, even war.Fascinating for any reader, and absolutely essential for anyone who takes a hike in the woods, this book will change the way we understand ourselves and the great outdoors.

Kon-Tiki: across the Pacific by raft

Kon-Tiki: across the Pacific by raft
by Heyerdahl, Thor
910.9164 HEY
"Am going to cross Pacific on a wooden raft to support a theory that the South Sea islands were peopled from Peru. Will you come? ...Reply at once." That is how six brave and inquisitive men came to seek a dangerous path to test a scientific theory. On a primitive raft made of forty-foot balsa logs and named "Kon-Tiki" in honor of a legendary sun king, Heyerdahl and five companions deliberately risked their lives to show that the ancient Peruvians could have made the 4,300-mile voyage to the Polynesian islands on a similar craft. On every page of this true chronicle--from the actual building of the raft through all the dangerous and comic adventures on the sea, to the spectacular crash-landing and the native islanders' hula dances--each reader will find a wholesome and spellbinding escape from the twenty-first century.

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship
by Kurson, Robert
910.9163 KUR
The odds of finding a bona fide pirate ship are quite rare, a fact Robert Kurson (Shadow Divers) points out in the first few pages of this extraordinary adventure. Only one-the Whydah-has ever been positively identified as belonging to pirates. The subjects of Kurson's latest, John Chatterton and John Mattera, are undeterred by such unlikelihood in their conquest to locate the elusive Golden Fleece, the 17th-century ship captained by Joseph Bannister, lost somewhere in the waters near the Dominican Republic. Kurson takes readers on a wild ride alongside these bigger-than-life pirate hunters as they navigate the red tape of maritime code, dead ends, and dwindling resources, as well as rival hunters keen on beating Chatterton and Mattera to the prize. Though this drama would be more than enough, Kurson also examines the many myths surrounding pirates in their golden age, some of which were true (they did keep parrots and used colorful language, but they were also remarkably egalitarian in terms of race and rank-all races were welcomed and every man from the captain to the cook was treated equally, though women were not present unless they were in disguise). Kurson's own enthusiasm, combined with his copious research and an eye for detail, makes for one of the most mind-blowing pirate stories of recent memory, one that even the staunchest landlubber will have a hard time putting down. Agent: Flip Brophy, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Jun.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Roughing It

Roughing It
by Twain, Mark
818 TWA
n 1861, young Mark Twain found himself adrift as a newcomer in the Wild West, working as a civil servant, silver prospector, mill worker, and finally a reporter and traveling lecturer. Roughing It is the hilarious record of those early years traveling from Nevada to California to Hawaii, as Twain tried his luck at anything and everything - and usually failed. Twain's encounters with tarantulas and donkeys, vigilantes and volcanoes, even Brigham Young, the Mormon leader, come to life with his inimitable mixture of reporting, social satire, and rollicking tall tales. Amazon review.

Running the Amazon

Running the Amazon
by Kane, Joe
918.1 KAN
Foaming rapids, tropical fevers, Maoist guerrillas, gun-happy drug lords, short tempers, and even shorter rations were just a few of the perils faced by the author during his 4200-mile kayak-and-raft passage from the source of the Amazon in the Peruvian highlands to the Atlantic Ocean. The only American among the 11-person team that undertook the historic trip, Kane was one of the four who finally completed the grueling voyage. As chronicler of the expedition, he does a fine job of delineating the often prickly personalities of the participants, of capturing the emotional highs and lows of such an undertaking, and of describing the territory along the route. The narrative gets off to a somewhat slow start. When Kane is off the water as a member of the support group, his writing has a second-hand quality. Once he begins paddling his way downriver, however, the narrative excitement begins to build and Kane maintains it right to the final pages. Some of the most appealing passages concern events ashore and the people the ever-dwindling group encounters there. There's Roberto, for example, the transvestite restaurant proprietor who, glittering in rhinestones and sequins, lip-syncs Barry Manilow's ""Feelings"" in his fly-blown establishment in a crumbling river town. There is also a mestizo teen-ager named ""Elvis Presley,"" and the band of guerrillas who first fire on the group from the cliffs, then hold them at gunpoint until the travelers buy their freedom with five cans of tuna. The original group is a contentious lot consisting of Poles, Afrikaners, a British woman doctor, and Kane. Frequent arguments erupt concerning group leadership, financial arrangements, and the methods used to generate publicity about the trip. By voyage's end, however, the four remaining members establish deep emotional ties, and the author captures this without ever becoming sentimental. A generally engrossing adventure yarn--one that offers fresh and lively insights into the varying passions that inspire men and women to undertake such a test of stamina and ingenuity. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History

Sex on the Moon: The Amazing Story Behind the Most Audacious Heist in History
by Mezrich, Ben
364.1628 MEZ
A promising NASA recruit throws everything away for a girl, illustrating the fascinating consequences when science, ambition, and starry-eyed love collide. In bestselling author Mezrich's telling, Thad Roberts, while at the University of Utah, became determined to be an astronaut and threw himself into science courses, He left his wife behind when he was accepted to the elite Johnson Space Center Cooperative Program in Houston, the training ground for NASA scientists. Despite his lack of an engineering background, Roberts excelled in the life sciences department. While cataloguing samples, he noticed the moon rocks NASA categorized as "trash"-samples returned after experiments. Then Roberts met and fell in love with a new recruit, Rebecca, and planned to give her the moon, or at least its profits, by stealing the "used" moon rocks. Roberts devised the heist and arranged an online sale with a mineral collector in Belgium. The suspicious buyer alerted the FBI, which set up a sting, and Roberts was sentenced to eight years in federal prison. Mezrich (The Accidental Billionaires, from which The Social Network was adapted) has perfected his intensely readable brand of nonfiction: talented, often unscrupulous, young people skyrocketing to the top only to tumble back to earth. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster
by Krakauer, Jon
796.522 KRA
On May 19, 1953, Edmund Hillary and Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay achieved the impossible, becoming the first men to stand on top of Mount Everest. But by May 10, 1996, climbing the 29,000-foot "goddess of the sky" had become almost routine; commercial expeditions now littered Everest's flanks. Accepting an assignment from Outside magazine to investigate whether it was safe for wealthy amateur climbers to tackle the mountain, Krakauer (Into the Wild, LJ 11/15/95) joined an expedition guided by New Zealander Rob Hall. But Krakauer got more than he bargained for when on summit day a blinding snowstorm caught four groups on the mountain's peaks. While Krakauer made it back to camp, eight others died, including Scott Fischer and Hall, two of the world's best mountaineers. Devastated by the disaster, Krakauer has written this compelling and harrowing account (expanded from his Outside article) as a cathartic act, hoping it "might purge Everest from [his] life." But after finishing this raw, emotionally intense book, readers will be haunted, as Krakauer was, by the tragedy. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/97; two other survivors, Sandy Hill Pittman and guide Anatoli Boukreev, are publishing their own accounts.?Ed.]?Wilda Williams, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

The Travels of Marco Polo

The Travels of Marco Polo
by Polo, Marco
915.042 POL
Marco Polo was the most famous traveller of his time. His voyages began in 1271 with a visit to China, after which he served the Kubilai Khan on numerous diplomatic missions. On his return to the West he was made a prisoner of war and met Rustichello of Pisa, with whom he collaborated on this book. The accounts of his travels provide a fascinating glimpse of the different societies he encountered: their religions, customs, ceremonies and way of life; on the spices and silks of the East; on precious gems, exotic vegetation and wild beasts. He tells the story of the holy shoemaker, the wicked caliph and the three kings, among a great many others, evoking a remote and long-vanished world with colour and immediacy.

Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time

Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time
by Adams, Mark
985.37 ADA
Journalist Adams, whose previous Mr. America was an entertaining rediscovery of the life of early 20th-century fitness guru Bernard Macfadden, explores the weird crevasses of American exploration. In this fascinating history/travelogue, Adams looks at the work of Hiram Bingham III, who became a national sensation after he "discovered" the ancient city of Machu Picchu in July 1911. To celebrate the centennial of Bingham's discovery, Adams attempts to follow Bingham's exact footsteps through the Andes Mountains of Peru, with two clear goals: to figure out "how Bingham had gotten to Machu Picchu in the first place" and, in the face of recent claims that he had illegally smuggled artifacts out of the country, to understand the broader story of Bingham's "all-consuming attempt to solve the mystery of why such a spectacular granite city had been built in such a spellbinding location." Adams successfully weaves Bingham's tales-as well as resuscitating Bingham's positive reputation and accomplishments-into his own description of difficult but often amusing travels with his companions, a rugged Australian survivalist and four local mule tenders, which climaxes with an amazing visual moment that happens only once a year at Machu Picchu on the morning of the winter solstice. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II

Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II
by Zuckoff, Mitchell
940.548 ZUC
Zuckoff (Ponzi's Scheme) skillfully narrates the story of a plane crash and rescue mission in an uncharted region of New Guinea near the end of WWII. Of the 24 American soldiers who flew from their base on a sightseeing tour to a remote valley, only three survived the disaster, including one WAC. As the three waited for help, they faced death from untreated injuries and warlike local tribesmen who had never seen white people before and believed them to be dangerous spirits. Even after a company of paratroopers arrived, the survivors still faced a dangerous escape from the valley via "glider snatch." Zuckoff transforms impressive research into a deft narrative that brings the saga of the survivors to life. His access to journal accounts, letters, photos, military records, and interviews with the eyewitnesses allows for an almost hour-by-hour account of the crash and rescue, along with vivid portraits of his main subjects. Zuckoff also delves into the Stone Age culture of the New Guinea tribesmen and the often humorous misapprehensions the Americans and natives have about each other. In our contemporary world of eco-tourism and rain-forest destruction, Zuckoff's book gives a window on a more romantic, and naive, era. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Into the Wild

Into the Wild
by Krakauer, Jon
BIO MCCANDLESS
After graduating from Emory University in Atlanta in 1992, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska, where he went to live in the wilderness. Four months later, he turned up dead. His diary, letters and two notes found at a remote campsite tell of his desperate effort to survive, apparently stranded by an injury and slowly starving. They also reflect the posturing of a confused young man, raised in affluent Annandale, Va., who self-consciously adopted a Tolstoyan renunciation of wealth and return to nature. Krakauer, a contributing editor to Outside and Men's Journal, retraces McCandless's ill-fated antagonism toward his father, Walt, an eminent aerospace engineer. Krakauer also draws parallels to his own reckless youthful exploit in 1977 when he climbed Devils Thumb, a mountain on the Alaska-British Columbia border, partly as a symbolic act of rebellion against his autocratic father. In a moving narrative, Krakauer probes the mystery of McCandless's death, which he attributes to logistical blunders and to accidental poisoning from eating toxic seed pods. Maps. 35,000 first printing; author tour. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Wild: from lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Strayed, Cheryl
BIO STRAYED
In the summer of 1995, at age 26 and feeling at the end of her rope emotionally, Strayed resolved to hike solo the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,663-mile wilderness route stretching from the Mexican border to the Canadian and traversing nine mountain ranges and three states. In this detailed, in-the-moment re-enactment, she delineates the travails and triumphs of those three grueling months. Living in Minneapolis, on the verge of divorcing her husband, Strayed was still reeling from the sudden death four years before of her mother from cancer; the ensuing years formed an erratic, confused time "like a crackling Fourth of July sparkler." Hiking the trail helped decide what direction her life would take, even though she had never seriously hiked or carried a pack before. Starting from Mojave, Calif., hauling a pack she called the Monster because it was so huge and heavy, she had to perform a dead lift to stand, and then could barely make a mile an hour. Eventually she began to experience "a kind of strange, abstract, retrospective fun," meeting the few other hikers along the way, all male; jettisoning some of the weight from her pack and burning books she had read; and encountering all manner of creature and acts of nature from rock slides to snow. Her account forms a charming, intrepid trial by fire, as she emerges from the ordeal bruised but not beaten, changed, a lone survivor. Agent: Janet Silver, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Agency. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Wild by Nature: from Siberia to Australia, Three Years Alone in the Wilderness on Foot

Wild by Nature: from Siberia to Australia, Three Years Alone in the Wilderness on Foot
by Marquis, Sarah
BIO MARQUIS
Marquis chronicles the three years she spent traveling on foot through some of the harshest climates in the world, but what could have been an engaging story is ruined by poor writing. Trekking from Mongolia's Gobi Desert to Siberia and through Thailand to Australia's outback, Marquis's unparalleled adventure earned her recognition as a National Geographic Explorer of the Year. Her skills and raw talent are unquestionable, but her actual experience doesn't translate on the page. The jumpy, halting narrative fails to explain her mission; her long diatribes are preachy and sometimes border on culturally insensitive. The chapters are chronologically ordered but offer no consistent narrative thread to ground the reader. Certain incidents and places are given more of a focus than others; for example, a year in Mongolia is discussed over 100 pages, but the last year of the journey is condensed into 50. There are a few exciting moments when Marquis's incredible resourcefulness in the wild shines through, such as when she lists her techniques for gathering water in wilderness or recounts a chance encounter with wild buffalo in the middle of the night. Readers will be left wishing that they could enjoy a hike with Marquis, rather than be stuck reading her book. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

The Worst Jouney in the World

The Worst Jouney in the World
by Cherry-Garrard, Apsley
919.8904 CHE
The Worst Journey in the World" recounts Robert Falcon Scotts ill-fated expedition to the South Pole. Apsley Cherry-Garrardthe youngest member of Scotts team and one of three men to make and survive the notorious Winter Journeydraws on his firsthand experiences as well as the diaries of his compatriots to create a stirring and detailed account of Scotts legendary expedition. Cherry himself would be among the search party that discovered the corpses of Scott and his men, who had long since perished from starvation and brutal cold. It is through Cherrys insightful narrative and keen descriptions that Scott and the other members of the expedition are fully memorialized.