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Publisher's Summary

Pure Land is the story of the most brutal murder in the history of the Grand Canyon and how McGivney's quest to investigate the victim's life and death wound up guiding the author through her own life-threatening crisis. On this journey stretching from the southern tip of Japan to the bottom of Grand Canyon, and into the ugliest aspects of human behavior, Pure Land offers proof of the healing power of nature and of the resiliency of the human spirit.

Tomomi Hanamure, a Japanese citizen who loved exploring the rugged wilderness of the American West, was killed on her birthday, May 8, 2006. She was stabbed 29 times as she hiked to Havasu Falls on the Havasupai Indian reservation at the bottom of Grand Canyon. Her killer was an 18-year old Havasupai youth named Randy Redtail Wescogame, who had a history of robbing tourists and was addicted to meth. It was the most brutal murder ever recorded in Grand Canyon's history. Annette McGivney covered the tragedy for Backpacker magazine where she is Southwest Editor and she wrote an award-winning article that received more reader mail than any story in the last decade.

While the assignment ended when the article was published, McGivney could not let go of the story. As a woman who also enjoys wilderness hiking, McGivney felt a bond with Hanamure and embarked on a years-long pursuit to learn more about her. McGivney traveled to Japan and across the American West following the trail Hanamure left in her journals. Yet, McGivney also had a connection to Wescogame, Hanamure's killer, and her reporting unexpectedly triggered long-buried memories about violent abuse McGivney experienced as a child.

Pure Land is a story of this inner and outer journey, how two women in search of their true nature found transcendence in the West's most spectacular landscapes. It is also a tale of how child abuse leads to violence and destroys lives. And it is, ultimately, a story of healing. While chronicling Hanamure's life landed McGivney in the crime scene of her own childhood, it was her connection to Hanamure - a woman she did not know until after Hanamure died - that helped McGivney find a way out of her own horror.

©2017 Annette McGivney (P)2017 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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

Compelling story about Tomomi, too much personal

The author and reader are great at telling Tomomi's at once heartbreaking and compelling story; she was an amazing young lady.
Unfortunately, the author adds to this book another story- that of her own childhood trauma- and how Tomomi's story led her into treatment of that trauma. This second tale is likely one that needed to be told and others can learn from it, but I felt it took too much away from the main story about Tomomi.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wow- this is a powerful, complex story!

The complexity and beauty of this story is riveting and profound. It touches on all the things in life I love: outdoor expeditions into wilderness, dogs, psychology of criminality, cultural history, and in particular learning more about the people who lived on the land that I call home before it become the United States.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Moving and Insightful

This is a tremendous piece of journalism and writing. It is a multi-layered, depthful inspection of trauma and healing power of Nature. Trauma on both huge cultural levels and small personal levels.

The book is not depressing, however. It is heartfelt, compassionate and uplifting. It is educational and Insightful as well.

I am deeply impressed with the author's intelligence and heart. I heard an interview with her on the "Once Upon a Crime" podcast last week and immediately purchased the audiobook and devoured all twelve hours over a couple of days.

Thank you, Annette. Your book is a service to humankind.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Compelling stories

The book began with three separate compelling stories and tied them together in a fascinating way. The narrator was annoying in the way she would "sing" the last syllable in a sentence. Definitely worth listening to, especially for those who have experienced trauma.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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

May be the only book I will listen to twice…

I have always been a meat and potatoes true crime fan; I only needed the facts, thank you very much. But on the wonderful Esther Ludlow’s podcast (Once Upon a Crime), I heard Annette McGivney speak about her book, Pure Land, and its interesting premise: a Japanese tourist; a brutal murder committed by a Native American; and how it all somehow intertwined with Ms. McGivney’s life. In the days after, it kept bubbling back up to my mind: how on earth could those three things connect? It was this question that led me to get her book on Audible.

Tomomi Hanamure was consumed with a wanderlust few of us will ever know. With every extra dollar she earned, she traveled to the US with the single-minded purpose of absorbing every facet of Native American life. It was awe inspiring to hear about such an intrepid, indomitable lady. This made her senseless murder all the more crushing.

Randy Wescogame, Tomomi’s murderer: I began the book fully prepared to despise this person who cut down a beautiful, adventurous soul in the prime of her life. But through Ms. McGivney’s boundless compassion, and skill at uncovering every obtainable shred of information and presenting it objectively, I was actually able to gain a bit of empathy for him.

And Annette McGivney. What started out for her as a writing assignment to cover a murder in a world famous hiking location turned into a memoir I will never forget. Having written a bit of poetry in my youth, I once described the feeling of anyone reading my stuff as “walking around naked.” Well, Ms. McGivney showed me how far short I fell of truly baring my soul to others. The last third of her book is one of the bravest and most moving things I have ever heard.

If you enjoy true crime and want to go beyond “just the facts” – really get to the heart of the matter while learning about a fascinating case – I can’t recommend this book enough.

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

The writing was great, but the narration terrible

I would recommend reading it. The narrator sounded robotic, and was really distracting from the narrative

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • ENGLIT
  • Ridgefield, CT
  • 03-28-18

Not what I expected

Having been to Havasu, hiking down, camping, visiting the amazing falls myself, it was interesting learning about this case. I had no idea that there was so much crime. The drugs and the plight of the natives I knew of. The story was compelling, but I found the flip flopping between the investigation and the author’s story jolting. I would have liked them to be separate. McGiveny’s personal story deserves its own book. I did not care for the performance by Marshall. Seemed stilted and false. I wish McGiveny did her own narration.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Gena
  • CA, United States
  • 03-22-18

I'm going to read this one.

What other book might you compare Pure Land to and why?

Perhaps it was like "my sister milly" and "wild" in the way the author was able to convey a deeper understanding of the complex and often fragile nature of humans, by connecting her own story rather than detaching from it. I appreciate that. We are all so much more than "just the facts" and I believe our feminine nature is much more adept at telling this kind of story.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Unfortunately, this narrator just could not get in to the needed feel and nuance of telling this story well. I continually felt irritated that she just could not express what the writer was trying to convey. I have listened to the writer on other interviews as well as the welcomed bonus at the end of this audiobook. SHE SHOULD HAVE READ HER OWN BOOK!

Any additional comments?

This is one I wish they would re-record by the author, as it is one of those stories I know I could listen to again and again.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely Eye-opening and Exceptional Book!

What a read...This book had me captivated from the minute the audio started. Annette McGivney takes you right into the heart of the Grand Canyon with all its beauty, and yet dark sad history, and into the hearts of two precious endearing dreamy young girls whose lives intertwined in a foreboding and mysterious yet beautiful way. Out of the darkest circumstances came light, and you travel this journey with them, page by page. It’s the kind of book where you find yourself exploring your own life along with theirs. It’s a book that every true nature-lover and avid reader who seeks to broaden their horizons should own. It may even change the way you feel, think, and look at this beautiful world. Don’t be surprised if you cherish your next blazing sunset just a little more after this read.

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

gripping story/ poor narration

It should be a criminal act for a narrator reading a book set in the southwest to not understand how to pronounce fundamental aspects of the culture and geography, such as saguaro (SAG-WARE-OH), cholla (CHOL-AH,) Paiute (Pay-yute), and Havasupai (HavAHsoupay). Annoying.

Poor Tomomi. RIP.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful