The Last River: The Tragic Race for Shangri-La

Todd Balf, Author, Dennis Boutsikaris, Read by
Todd Balf, Author, Dennis Boutsikaris, Read by Random House Audio Publishing Group $25.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-375-41626-2
Hardcover - 304 pages - 978-0-609-60625-4
Compact Disc - 978-0-375-41631-6
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-22348-5
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-609-80801-6
Ebook - 164 pages - 978-0-307-87446-7
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-330-48588-3
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-21556-6
Hardcover - 304 pages - 978-1-4472-5119-4
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Boutsikaris does a fine job of matching Balf's (a former editor of Outside magazine) comfortable, plainspoken style, ringing true in all instances except the few where he is called upon to simulate foreign accents, an area that is clearly not his forte. Balf spends a considerable amount of time characterizing the trip's participants and describing the years of preparation that have gone into the journey, and he manages to give just enough insight and background to make the story more palpable instead of bogging it down. Listeners will have a real sense of loss when, nearly two weeks into the exploration of the Tibetan river Tsangpo, one of the members flips over an eight-foot waterfall and is never seen again. Perhaps, though, the fact that Balf was not actually a participant in the trip itself is what accounts for the lack of the immediate, cinematic narration that has made other books in this genre, particularly Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air, so successful. Balf reconstructs events through interviews with the members of the party and attempts to raise the excitement through a dated, sequential telling, but he still just doesn't manage to bring the drama home in a way that a story of this nature demands. Simultaneous release with the Crown hardcover (Forecasts, July 31). (Sept.)
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