Book review: "Two Shadows"

7:30 p.m. on February 25, 2011 (EST)
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I just finished reading a gripping autobiography of a mountaineer -- here's my review of it.

Two Shadows - the inspirational story of one man's triumph over adversity by Charlie Winger

The extensive list of mountaineering and climbing areas listed in the table of contents for this book was a big draw for me, including climbs in Bolivia, Peru, USSR, India, Africa, Europe, and Nepal. Still, I wasn't sure what to expect from an autobiography from an author who had written only guidebooks in the past.

I was not disappointed, to say the least. Some of the climbing stories 
were true mountaineering epics, keeping me on the edge of my seat. 
Other chapters emphasized the adventure of traveling overseas as Charlie and friends tried to sort out the mysteries of foreign travel, foreign foods, and foreign customs, often with hilarious results. My favorite chapter in this portion of the book, though, had to be the collection of short “vignettes” related to his many years of hiking, climbing, peak-bagging, and expeditions. 

But this book is far more than a collection of fascinating climbing stories – even though it could stand on its own merit on that alone. Charlie’s early life and descent into a pattern of worse and worse behavior is a moving account of neglect and abuse, although he holds only himself to blame for his actions during that part of his life. I don’t think it’s a “spoiler” to explain that he ended up in prison at age 18, since that's disclosed on the back cover & in the very early pages. His description of his prison experiences and his transformation into a productive, honest man give me hope that some of our current “troubled youth” may be able to turn their lives around if given the right tools and support.

Two Shadows is entertaining, sobering, funny, frightening, and an inspiring read on several levels. Read it for the adventures, but also for the inspiration of Charlie’s passion for life. 

 

July 25, 2014
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