am 17. Januar 2016
The positive first: The book is readable ' in a way that a mediocre college essay is. Other than that, there is nothing to gain from this book. Instead of "The Untold Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident" the subtitle should properly be "The Unnecessary Story of an American in Russia". Just like a bad actor who can never make you forget that there's a camera pointed at them, Donnie Eichar is one of those writers, or rather text producers, who are so infatuated with writing about themselves that the real story dies a painful death somewhere on page seven. Not to mention that his understanding of Russian culture and history seems to be based on reading a maximum of three Wikipedia articles. Having grown up in Russia, I kept cringing at his obvious lack of knowledge of the most simple facts about Russian life. (Even such things as Russian names went right over Donnie's head: Thus, we are introduced to "Tatiana Dyatlov Dyatlova" because he cleverly noticed the extra "a" but failed to read up in his travel guide that an "a" is added to all female last names. Being blissfully unburdened by any knowledge of the culture he is producing a book on, he fails to see important clues: For example, veterans in the 1950s did not have tattoos in Russia. Rather, having a tattoo was an unmistakable sign that somebody was moving in criminal circles. Also, Donnie must have confused Siberia with Sardinia when he kept bringing up the "mandolin". What he means is the balalaika, a rather different traditional Russian instrument. If he is not even capable of getting this kind of trivia right, one can only assume how sound the rest of his "research" is.) My conclusion is that Donnie was probably over-encouraged by his high school English teacher and now thinks that buying a plane ticket and chatting over tea with a couple of locals is enough to make you an expert. Donnie, please stick to writing diaries.
For a competent account of the story, Keith McCloskey's 'Mountain of the Dead' is a much better choice. In contrast to Donnie with his hurrah-I'm-the-cool-guy-who-solved-the-mystery agenda, McCloskey does not only show an impressive understanding of the historic and cultural background but also thoroughly explores different possible scenarios instead of lazily latching on to one pet theory to the exclusion of all other facts.