In February 1959, a group of nine experienced hikers in the Russian Ural Mountains died mysteriously on an elevation known as Dead Mountain. Eerie aspects of the incident—unexplained violent injuries, signs that they cut open and fled the tent without proper clothing or shoes, a strange final photograph taken by one of the hikers, and elevated levels of radiation found on some of their clothes—have led to decades of speculation over what really happened. This gripping work of literary nonfiction delves into the mystery through unprecedented access to the hikers' own journals and photographs, rarely seen government records, dozens of interviews, and the author's retracing of the hikers' fateful journey in the Russian winter. A fascinating portrait of the young hikers in the Soviet era, and a skillful interweaving of the hikers narrative, the investigators' efforts, and the author's investigations, here for the first time is the real story of what happened that night on Dead Mountain.
Editors Select, March 2014 - Full disclosure: I've been obsessed with the story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident – the name given to the mysterious unsolved deaths of nine young experienced hikers in the Russian Ural mountains in 1959 - since I first heard the story a few years back. Filmmaker-turned-author Donnie Eichar seems to share my enthusiasm, because after years of researching the case, he emptied his savings and traveled to Russia on a mission to recreate the hikers’ journey and uncover the truth behind their deaths. Although this was a familiar story to me, I was completely absorbed by Eichar’s retelling. He weaves his own journey seamlessly in with a retelling of the hikers’ story (which he recreates through their photos and journal entries), along with a detailed breakdown of the investigation following their disappearance. And as a documentary filmmaker, Eichar makes sure he has his timelines and sources straight throughout the book. Above all, I think was most impressed by how Eichar treated the Dylatlov Pass Incident as so much more than a creepy tale. He manages to bring a deep human quality to the story, along with immense reverence for the fallen hikers (tone that comes through in his careful narration). I came away from this book feeling as if I had known each one of them - and longing for some closure more than ever before. I won't spoil the outcome of his investigation, but I think it's safe to say that anyone who is interested in this story - or real-life mysteries in general - will be left with plenty to ponder.
—Sam, Audible Editor
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