2018 Winner for Outdoor Literature!

2018 Winner for Outdoor Literature!

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A 10-year Odyssey by award-winning journalist Annette McGivney


PURE LAND by Annette McGivney

October 2017

354 pages

978-0-9985278-8-8 (print)

978-0-9992232-6-0 (ebook)

AUXmedia, a Division of Aquarius Press


Distributor:  INGRAM

A True Story of Three Lives, Three Cultures, and the Search for Heaven on Earth

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“McGivney intuitively grounds her narrative while exploring humanity’s roots of culture and origins of character...She is a storyteller of the highest caliber, with a style reminiscent of Jon Krakauer’s journalistic skill and unmistakable purpose.” — Carine McCandless, author of The Wild Truth, the New York Times bestselling follow-up to Into the Wild

PURE LAND is the story of the most brutal murder in the history of the Grand Canyon and how McGivney's quest to investigate the victim's life and death wound up guiding the author through her own life-threatening crisis. On this journey stretching from the southern tip of Japan to the bottom of Grand Canyon, and into the ugliest aspects of human behavior, Pure Land offers proof of the healing power of nature and of the resiliency of the human spirit.

Tomomi Hanamure, a Japanese citizen who loved exploring the rugged wilderness of the American West, was killed on her birthday May 8, 2006. She was stabbed 29 times as she hiked to Havasu Falls on the Havasupai Indian reservation at the bottom of Grand Canyon. Her killer was an 18-year old Havasupai youth named Randy Redtail Wescogame who had a history of robbing tourists and was addicted to meth. It was the most brutal murder ever recorded in Grand Canyon’s history. Annette McGivney covered the tragedy for Backpacker magazine where she is Southwest Editor and she wrote an award-winning article that received more reader mail than any story in the last decade. (See the story here.)

While the assignment ended in June 2007 when the article was published, McGivney could not let go of the story. As a woman who also enjoys wilderness hiking, McGivney felt a bond with Hanamure and embarked on a years-long pursuit to learn more about her. McGivney traveled to Japan and across the American West following the trail Hanamure left in her journals. Yet, McGivney also had a connection to Wescogame, Hanamure’s killer, and her reporting unexpectedly triggered long-buried memories about violent abuse McGivney experienced as a child.

PURE LAND is a story of this inner and outer journey, how two women in search of their true nature found transcendence in the West’s most spectacular landscapes. It is also a tale of how child abuse leads to violence and destroys lives. And it is, ultimately, a story of healing. While chronicling Hanamure’s life landed McGivney in the crime scene of her own childhood, it was her connection to Hanamure— a woman she did not know until after Hanamure died — that helped McGivney find a way out of her own horror.  

“Pure Land reads like Into the Wild, but with a female protagonist, and by an author who is even more fearless than Krakauer in her quest to understand her past, her motivations, and her desire to make sense of a brutal, possibly unavoidable murder.” —Tracy Ross, author of The Source of All Things, a Memoir

“There is such tragic irony here. The very things that Japanese tourist Tomomi Hanamure is so deeply passionate about—the wild, stark, beautiful American West and Native American culture—are what leads to her violent death...McGivney has masterfully woven three separate, highly personal narratives.” — S. C. Gwynne, Author of Empire of the Summer Moon, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize

“Take this tour into Pure Land’s treacherous canyons. With unflinching courage, Annette McGivney investigates the deep shadows of tragic, cyclical abuse, where old wounds caused by family disintegration, tribal erosion, and cultural genocide continue to fester. But this journey is a healing journey. McGivney’s open-hearted compassion imbues dignity on even the most troubled of our species. A compelling, illuminating and important book.” — Ann Cummins, author of Red Ant House and Yellowcake

Tomomi Hanamure

Tomomi Hanamure