CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 6 . . . . November 10, 2006
Rescues! is the sixth volume and Kyi’s second in the series “True Stories from the Edge.” It is a welcome addition to the series that presents nonfiction as fast-paced stories that should appeal even to reluctant readers. The use of descriptive subheadings to break the short chapters into smaller segments helps to reinforce the content of the paragraphs that follow.
Tales of rescue are intricately intertwined with accounts of heroism as rescuers heroically risk their own lives “to bring people back from the very edge of death.” Sometimes, rescuers such as Mbaye Diagne, a UN observer from Senegal stationed in Rwanda, even disobeyed orders in an effort to save the lives of others. Similarly, international efforts to rescue Italian balloonists who crashed in the Arctic in 1928 were unsanctioned and proved deadly for some of the would-be rescuers.
Rescues! presents 10 true stories, mostly from the 20th century, but including one account from 1854 of a woman named Abigail Becker who saved sailors shipwrecked in the icy waters of Lake Erie as winter approached. Other stories focus on mountaineering expeditions that ended badly, the natural disaster at the Rocky Mountain town of Frank where 30 million cubic meters of rock slid down the mountain face in 1903, an animal rescue operation in Surinam in 1964, a boy lost for five days in a cave in Stockton, Utah in 1989, a submarine accident in 1939, and a fire at the circus in Hartford, Connecticut that left 168 dead in 1944.
In addition to recreational reading, this work has a great fit for studies of disasters, rescues, and the nature of heroism. It can tie in with studies of rescue teams in our contemporary society or raise questions about what are reasonable expectations for rescuers when adventurers deliberately engage in extreme activities that are inherently dangerous.
An added feature is the list of selected sources that includes books, websites, a video and contemporary magazine and newspaper articles. The index, which is heavy on personal names, includes some topical headings, but it should have included more, including “massacres” to describe the events in Rwanda in 1994.
Val Ken Lem is a catalogue librarian and subject liaison for history, English, and Caribbean studies at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.