The annual Accidents in North American Mountaineering is required reading for all climbers, full stop. Some people call it the Darwin Awards of climbing, which is unkind yet unfortunately accurate in the sense that most accidents are the results of poor decision making. The truth is we all exercise poor judgement to some degree, in some situations, some of the time, usually when we're tired, inexperienced or just plain not paying attention. On a good day we live to tell about it. ANAM gives us insight into what the consequences could have been on a different day, serving as a valuable reminder to wear a helmet, tie a knot in the end of your rope when rappelling, and generally fight natural selection with alertness, education and solid preparation before ever leaving town.
The 2012 edition (sixty-fifth!) introduces a new section called "Know the Ropes: Fundamentals to Save Your Life." It calls out rappel and lowering errors once again, and provides ten pages including pictures of really solid beta on making sure it doesn't happen to you. The short version: choose your anchors wisely, knot the ends of each rope and use a rappel extension backup.
ANAM is an amazing resource, and it could be even more useful with a few changes. Stories in the 2012 edition are from the 2011 climbing season, and so miss a full big mountain season. The 2012 edition for some reason does away with the executive summary from the 2011 edition, which was meager enough. The quality of the accounts does vary. In general the accounts penned by professionals (often rangers at Denali, Yosemite, Rainier, etc.) are more useful than the self-authored accounts. It would be great to see a companion blog that functioned as a repository for all cases studies, even better if it were integrated with mountain rescue organization reports, which are not included in the book.
None of these potential improvements limit the value of learning from other people's mistakes. There but for the grace of God, after all. ANAM is so inexpensive, buy a couple for your friends and take advantage of the free shipping, or combine it with another great Mountaineers Books title like Rock Climbing Anchors or Climbing Self Rescue.