The Rescue Season: The Heroic Story of Parajumpers on the Edge of the World

Bob Drury, Author Simon & Schuster $25 (240p) ISBN 978-0-684-86479-2
Dubbed the ""unknown tip of the military's rescue spear,"" the pararescue units of the U.S. Air Force handle some of the military's most dangerous missions, from plucking downed pilots out of combat zones to saving mountain climbers stranded on ice-covered peaks. In order to investigate the units' lifestyle, work ethic and techniques, Drury spent the 1999 climbing season with the parajumpers, or PJs, of the 210th Alaska Pararescue Squadron. Here Drury relates several of their hair-raising missions, interspersing his stories with background details about the unit's history, the PJs' rigorous training and thumbnail biographies of the individual members of the squadron. A veteran journalist who is also a contributing editor at GQ, Drury displays a good tactical understanding of alpine rescue methods and convincingly relates the thoughts and motivations of the individual parajumpers. Leaping back and forth between background and anecdote, the book loses its momentum at times, especially at its beginning. However, the pace picks up in the suspenseful last 50 pages, which relate the action-packed rescue of a man dying near the highest peak in North America, Alaska's Mount Denali. Less absorbing than many narrative accounts of quests-gone-wrong, this book will probably be passed over by adventure readers, but it should appeal to those interested in elite military divisions, such as the Navy SEALs or the Green Berets. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
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