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Into the Abyss


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About the Author

Carol Shaben is the daughter of crash survivor Larry Shaben. An award-winning writer, she has spent years researching the story and interviewing those involved.


In this electrifying history, Canadian journalist Shaben chronicles a devastating plane crash and its ramifications on the four survivors. On an icy night in October 1984, a small commuter plane crashed in the Canadian wilderness. One of the four survivors was the author's father, Larry Shaben, the country's first Muslim cabinet minister. The others included the young pilot, a police officer, and the drifter he was escorting to face criminal charges. Larry's physical wounds healed within two months. But he was a different person, more subdued and "quietly haunted," writes Shaben. Over the ensuing years, her curiosity about the event grew. "The crash's impact on my father, and the unlikely friendships that formed between the survivors lodged the event firmly in my psyche," she writes. Shaben skillfully navigates the intricate language of flying for those not familiar with its jargon. She delves into the darker side of the Canadian commuter airline industry and its sorry record of accidents and unreliable equipment. She also adroitly recounts how the survivors cooperated on the night of the crash, in spite of their differences. Though each man incurred emotional scars as a result of the incident, the bonds formed between the survivors during the ordeal lasted for decades. Shaben's riveting narrative is filled with heart and the story is well told. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Canadian politician Larry Shaben was among the survivors of a harrowing commuter plane crash in Alberta in 1984, which left six others dead. Shaben's daughter Carol, a journalist, presents a detailed examination of the causes and consequences of the accident and the personal aftermath for the survivors. Besides Larry, who served as Canada's first Muslim cabinet minister, the other survivors included the 24-year-old pilot, a police officer, and the criminal he was escorting. Shaben's well-written but somewhat overlong narrative reveals the unusually strong bonds formed among this unlikely group through the intensity of their shared experience, as well as their disparate paths in search of meaning in their post-crash lives. -VERDICT Combining the survivors' stories with reporting on the official investigation of the crash and related issues of regional airline safety and regulation, this work casts troubling light on the enormous challenges faced by pilots at these smaller airlines and the harsh realities of travel in Canada's unforgiving northern regions. Best suited to readers interested in the history of plane crashes, aviation safety and regulation, or life in Alberta, who may also consider Norman Ollestad's Crazy for the Storm: A Memoir of Survival or William Langewiesche's Fly by Wire.-Ingrid Levin, Salve Regina Univ. Lib., Newport, RI (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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