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Pure Land

A True Story of Three Lives, Three Cultures and the Search for Heaven on Earth
Narrated by: Christine Marshall
Length: 12 hrs and 6 mins
4 out of 5 stars (69 ratings)

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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

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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

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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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  • me
  • 09-13-19

Good story but narrator does not do it justice

As someone who has lived and worked with all the mentioned Tribes it is very painful to listen to this narrator butcher native terms and surnames. The story is great but it is like nails on a chalkboard listening to her mispronounce important terms and names. It is a shame, as well as disrespectful, that she did not take the time to research pronunciations as these words are essential to the story.
I can only imagine how badly she butchered the Japanese names, locations, and words......

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  • JohnB
  • Berkeley, CA United States
  • 04-15-19

A tragic yet heartwarming story

This is a wonderful, touching story of three people whose lives intersect in a remote part of the Grand Canyon. The people are real, the landscape is beautifully described, and the story is gripping.

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    5 out of 5 stars

I liked the story. it contains a powerful message

The narrator however I really disliked. I wish there were options to select different narrators. I found her voice annoying and monotone I struggled to finish the audible version of this book. I preferred the hard copy.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Mixed Feelings

The story of Tomomi's life and death was captivating and heartbreaking. Unfortunately, the author's need to hijack Tomomi's story in order to talk about herself was a huge detractor and we never finished the rest of the book. The narrator didn't help things, her narration felt like it was coming from someone trying to mimic human emotions. It's too bad, I really wanted to love this one.

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Awful narration

I tried to listen and got 4 hours into the story before the narration got the better of me. The narrator sounds like one of those computer voices, reading without emotion. Many of the geographical and cultural words were mispronounced over and over. As a resident of the location where much of the story takes place, I couldn't stand hearing what is supposed to be a professional performance being so butchered. I may pick up a physical copy of the book to finish it, but I don't recommend the audio version.

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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.