Official Review: The Altitude Journals by David J Mauro

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Official Review: The Altitude Journals by David J Mauro

Post by bluegreenmarina »

[Following is an official review of "The Altitude Journals" by David J Mauro.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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​What does it take to push an ordinary person into committing an extraordinary act? What does it take to repeat that extraordinary act seven times? In his memoir, The Altitude Journals, David J. Mauro tells the story of ​his experiences climbing and summiting the tallest peaks of each of the seven continents, and the physical and psychological journey to each peak.

At the age of 44, when his life had hit a low point that left him feeling like he had little to lose, David Mauro was offered a chance to join his brother-in-law on an expedition to the top of Denali, the highest peak in North America. He was welcomed as one of two newbies to join a team of experienced climbers, and with training and support from his teammates, achieved the summit. The experience awoke a sense of purpose within him, and upon his return he began to rebuild his life, soon meeting his soulmate. Though he did not consider himself a true climber, he felt the pull of the next peak calling to him, and went on to answer the call of each of the so-called Seven Summits, over the course of the next seven years.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this book is that each mountain seems to have a unique and memorable personality. Though the dangers of altitude sickness, frostbite, hypothermia and the general threat of death or serious injury are universal elements on the climbs, each mountain has different lessons to impart on the climber as well as the reader. The author details the learning experience that occurred on the actual climb, as well as the emotional revelations that he processed upon his return. The mountains themselves are a metaphor for his personal demons, though he is clear that one of the initial lessons he came to understand is that the act of climbing cannot simply amount to the pursuit of the next goal. Rather, through the act of conquering the summits he learns that one must confront and overcome the problems in one's life, and that those accomplishments are among the few things that cannot be taken away from a person.

Despite the levity of the themes mentioned above, Mauro also finds the space to include amusing anecdotes of his rookie climbing mistakes and lessons learned. Some of the humorous moments include stories of melting cheese in his armpits and learning to pee into a bottle while lying down in a crowded tent. This sense of humor adds to the charm and general vulnerability of the account, and balances out the sections of white-knuckle excitement.

One of the final lessons Mr. Mauro learns during his adventures is that vulnerability is essential to life, and that (just like one lays his life on the line when choosing to conquer the tallest peaks) one must put his or her heart on the line in order to fully experience love. His vulnerability is what makes this such an intriguing story. Though readers who have experience with high-altitude expeditions may find quite a bit with which to relate in the stories of his achievements, the common reader is more likely to relate to the descriptions of his struggles. The author's willingness to show all of the aspects of the experience - the difficulties, the fears, the frustrations - result in a reading experience that is simultaneously impressive and relatable.

The writing itself is immediately effective in grabbing the reader's attention. The details are succinct, yet vivid, and the lively pace flows smoothly through the most interesting elements of the climb, as well as the days leading up to it. The author seems to have an excellent feel for the type of information to include, and what to leave out, and at no point throughout the narrative did I feel like I was forced to make an effort to continue reading. Rather, as I progressed through each page, I was eager to learn what would happen next. I rate this memoir 4 out of 4 stars, and recommend it to anyone who enjoys stories of travel, adventure, mountain climbing, as well as readers looking for an uplifting and energizing experience.

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Post by liftedbooks »

Sounds like a beautiful story. I enjoy books about travel and adventure, and the fact that these are the author's own experiences makes it even more appealing to me. Thank you for the great review.
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Post by Samantha Simoneau »

This sounds like an amazing read. I love true-life stories of "feats," so this on is definitely on my "to read" list. It seems like the reader is really made to engage with the author's struggles and feelings, like I would "disappear" into this book. Thanks for the recommendation!
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Post by kandscreeley »

This one sounds like it's got a bit of something for everyone. I've never done any climbing such as that, but it sounds like I could really relate to his struggles. Thanks so much for introducing us to this one.
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Post by gen_g »

This sounds like an amazing story. Thanks for the beautifully written review.
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Post by NL Hartje »

This sounds like an excellent book for my friends and I here in Colorado!

When we moved here some years ago, my husband and I were blasted with discussion after discussion about climbing "fourteeners." Now, these aren't the monstrous peaks of the Alps or Himalayas, but they are the tallest peaks in the continental Rockies.

After doing some research we finally summited our first one and we've never looked back! We try to summit at least 3-4 new ones each summer!

I am going to check this book out for myself, plus, I think it will be a great gift for our hiking friends!

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Latest Review: The Altitude Journals by David J Mauro

Post by Nmadinachi Egwim »

I'm part of the crowd that'll relate more with the metaphorical aspect of the author's adventure as it applies to daily life struggles. Thanks for your review! :)
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Post by daniya__shah3 »

This sounds like a beautiful book. Adventures juxtaposed against metaphors sound like a treat to a reader's ears. And the fact that this book gives importance to vulnerabilities makes it even more appealing. Great review!
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Post by Ana-Maria-Diana »

It is fascinating to understand how a man can see the world after life changing experinces. Thank you for the review.
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Post by Britty01 »

I am thoroughly enjoying this book, much more than I had anticipated at the start of it. At first I saw the author as a 44 year old, slightly self-absorbed man suffering a mid-life crisis. Well, you can't judge a book by it's cover. As I delved into the story further and he shared more of his experiences I gained a much better understanding of he came to be at the lowest point of his life. How he climbs out of it, I can only say is scary, breathtaking and amazing all at the same time.
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Post by LaurenHaupt »

I just got done reviewing this book and I was very impressed with it. I didn't expect to be as drawn to the book as I was.I gave the book 4 stars also. Great review!
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Post by Jmar_la »

I read this book and couldn't put it down. Non-fiction is not my favorite genre, but this book was very special in how it was written and also, the way he wrote about the adventure made me feel I was there with him. I hope to see more from him.
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Latest Review: The Altitude Journals by David J Mauro

Post by melindasuenlee »

I read this book as my first book assignment and I absolutely loved it! I have now resolved to try regular, casual hiking in the area when Fall comes around. When I am out of breath, I hope I can pretend I am Mauro scaling Everest.
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Post by history100 »

I read and reviewed this book also but only gave it 3 out of 4 stars. I agree with most of your review but there were parts of the book that didn't make sense. Why did he write about his improv experiences? I imagine he was making a point about trying new things but it seemed so disconnected from the rest of the book. It broke the momentum and felt forced. Did anyone else get that sense?
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Post by maribeth_condon »

This sounds like a book that I may enjoy. I will have to seek it out, thanks for the thorough review.
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