Base jumping is something that I’ve not had a desire to do, so it was understandable that when I was presented with the opportunity to read and review "The Great Book of Base" that I did so with some level of skepticism. You see, I've always had preconceived ideas about BASE jumpers, their discipline, and the personality types involved - ironic when you consider the very notion, a pet peeve of mine, general skydivers have regarding canopy piloting/swooping. "The Great Book of BASE" helped turn that thinking on its head.
The Author, along with oftentimes anecdotal experiences with other BASE jumpers, paints a vivid yet methodical view of the world of BASE jumping. The book itself begins with a rather heavy handed push warning readers of the dangers of BASE jumping. Something, that while necessary, wears a little bit on the reader at times. It was the only part of the book I found a little difficult to get through - not because the warnings were invalid, or not to be heeded, but rather it felt like the Author was attempting to offset any potential future litigation.
There is something about this book that should be clearly stated: This book will NOT teach you how to BASE jump, nor is it the intention of the Author for it to do so. What the book does do, and in my opinion does very well, is give the reader a solid sense of a path to follow in the BASE world. It's a guide and a reference book, something you read multiple times in your BASE career and refresh the things you need to. For newer (and perhaps even some seasoned jumpers) the book discusses the myriad of things a BASE jumper should consider from etiquette (site burning, etc), mentorship (something the Author is a avid believer in), various types of BASE jumps and locations, detailed explanations on various weather phenomena that can affect the outcome of the BASE jump, and even the types of skydives a future, or current, BASE jumper should spend time working on to give them the greatest chance of having a positive BASE experience. Also noteworthy is how the Author takes some time to dispel myths, largely prevalent in the regular skydiving community, about altitude BASE jumps. All the subjects mentioned above are discussed in depth, but not so much so that they become a chore to read. Quite the opposite in fact, and the Author does a spectacular job of keeping the reader engaged in the topic being discussed - not always an easy task when discussing technical topics.
The book is well edited and written. The only real complaint I had about the layout, and it's a minor quibble, is that the Author refers to DBS (Deep Brake Setting) at one point, but doesn’t actually explain the acronym until a later chapter. As a non-BASE jumper, this term had me scratching my head until it was later explained.
So what does this mean for you, the reader? Well while I still have the opinion that BASE jumping is not for me I have a newfound respect for participants in the sport. Additionally I can say that if I ever were to reconsider my BASE jumping career, I would certainly have this book on my bookshelf and use it for guidance on the next steps to take. I definitely will be recommending to some of the local BASE jumpers I know.
Safe BASE jumps.
Overall: Highly recommended