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Editorial Reviews

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

Publisher's Summary

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.

©2013 Donnie Eichar (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Mysterious cold case, in Russia no less!

I like true stories, mysteries, adventurers, novels about Russia, and cold cases. So, though I'd never heard of this case before, it filled pretty much all those categories. The story is this: In 1959, at the height of the Cold War, 9 Russian engineering students go hiking and skiing in the northern Ural Mountains, in winter. They are all found dead in the snow near their campsite after failing to return to school, which, by the way, is in Siberia near a bunch of Gulag prison camps. So who or what happened to them? Was it escaped prisoners who killed them, or did they happen on classified military tests for which they had to be silenced? Or aliens, or animals, etc, etc. Using the records from that time and modern science, an American journalist attempts to solve the mystery. Anything more I could tell you would involved spoilers, so I won't. It's not a GREAT book, but a good one, hence four stars instead of five. I also don't really like authors reading their own work, but this one does a pretty good job. He goes into a great deal of detail in what life was like during those years for ordinary Russian citizens, something I find fascinating; that glimpse under the curtain into a closed society to which I would otherwise not know anything about. Historical non-fiction and docu-drama, when the background is accurate, I find interesting because you hear about the lives of the famous, but not the people who would be your counterparts in a very different society. And of course, since the Soviet Union no longer exists, the only way to get a glimpse of ordinary Soviet lives in through work like this. Very solid work---if you like any of those genres; mystery, other culture, etc., you'll find it entertaining. Also, though the author goes back and forth in time between the hikers' journey and his journey visiting where they died, he does it well and it never gets confusing.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Brian
  • AUSTIN, MN, United States
  • 03-31-14

Mystery solved?

What did you like best about Dead Mountain? What did you like least?

I was fascinated by this story, even before I read the book. I didn't have a great understanding of the facts, and the author does a great job at laying out facts, and keeps the story line intact. To that point, I thought in many instances the author could have delved deeper into narratives, individual bios, etc. I also would have loved to have heard more on the other, more wilder explanations, and he does cover this briefly towards the end of the book. I just honestly think some of those would have been very interesting to hear about in-depth.

Would you listen to another book narrated by Donnie Eichar?

He has a pretty dry narrative style, almost a monotone at times.

Did Dead Mountain inspire you to do anything?

I looked up the facts quite a bit while I was listening to the book, searching for images, clues, etc.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Donnie Eichar has tenacity and balls of steel

This is quite and exciting mystery and worth your time, if only for the overview of the story. If you haven't read the premise, it's simple: Soviet Students going for an advanced hiking rating by climbing an ominously named peak (translated from Russian as 'Dead Mountain') in 1959. The hikers don't return and the subsequent search party discovered some odd details surrounding their camp site, the disposition of the hiker's bodies, and the paucity of any other evidence. Fast forward some 50 years when American documentary maker stumbles across the story and decides someone needs to investigate; why not him?

The book has two parts written intermittently: the mystery, retold by hikers' journals and those involved with the search, and the author's investigation. The latter concludes with the author's presumptive but somewhat convincing answer to the mystery. Although highly speculative, nothing else seems to make sense. However, there are points the author brings up during his investigation that aren't answered by his theory e.g., radiation found on clothes and exact similar reactions by each hiker to the stated cause.

A great, real-life mystery that may have finally given some closure to the families of the hikers, albeit 50 years after the fact. The narrator, also the author, gets only three stars for performance. Although I prefer non-fiction to be read by the author, it seems like Donnie didn't even bother to take a class on audio book presentation, rather he speaks throughout the book as if he's narrating a animal dissection for high school biology

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

An interesting book!

What did you love best about Dead Mountain?

A well researched book about an incident I have always found fascinating. The author does a great job telling the timeline of events.

Which scene was your favorite?

His summation at the end gives the most plausible accounting of the incident I have seen.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes....and I listened to the book in one day! I worked late so that I could hear the ending.

Any additional comments?

The author does a nice job narrating the book.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A very mysterious story

This is the story of a group of hikers who perish on a mountain in the old USSR, under very strange circumstances. I thought the author gave a pretty cogent description of events and, at the end,a good explanation for it. It sounded believable to me, anyway. But, since then, I have heard a different theory from a climber who probably knows a thing or two about mountains. This story truly is a mystery. It was also interesting to learn more about life in Russia during that time. I really liked the narrator's voice - it's not always good when authors read their own books.Overall, 3.5 to 4 stars for me.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Paul
  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • 04-06-14

A Great Antidote For Insomnia

This story is further proof, if further proof is needed, of the rule that authors should stick to writing and leave narrations of their stories to the pros. Donnie Elchar, perhaps afflicted with a temporary spasm of narcissism, decided to read his own work.

"Monotone" is defined as "a vocal utterance or series of speech sounds in one unvaried tone." Yet, "monotone" seems to fall short as an adjective appropriate to the audible edition of this work. "Mumbling", "muttering" and "stammering" are verbs that might assist.

Tragically, Mr. Elchar's reading was so annoying and so ineffective that it completely obscured the superhuman effort he put into researching this alluring tale that persists on the fringes of conspiracy/UFO/government coverup literature.

My advice: buy the Kindle or print edition and read it, if you like this kind of story.

8 of 15 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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FINALLY A SOLUTION!

Finally a solution! I have long wondered about the fate of these hikers. And, after an initial dragging of the narrative, remained enthralled at the discoveries.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

yep, the mono tone reading really kills this one

the stor had potential but the reading was so montone and lifeless, i had to do this one in segments. Also the author focuses a little too much on himself during the story, which makes it drag even more. the story could have been great but with the reading , i would recomend...save your money

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

well-written, bad narration

Like many others reviewers have said, this is a good book, but this should have been read by a professional. Considering the author's passion for his subject matter, the reading conveyed the opposite of this. I wish it hadn't impacted this audiobook as much as it did, but I nearly bailed at the halfway mark. Per another listener's suggestion, I spend up the audio to x1.2.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Desiree
  • San Pedro, CA United States
  • 05-10-18

Truly enjoyed this book, but

The material kept me listening, but the narration was painful. The pronunciation of words like pitcher for picture, and the monotone voice almost made me stop,but I kept going, and I am glad I did. I would recommend this book, with the caveat of the narration.