From Publishers Weekly
Charles Houston, author of mountaineering classic K2: The Savage Mountain and now in his nineties, was plagued with feelings of failure even as he excelled in a number of daunting roles: medical doctor, university professor, Peace Corps director and legendary mountain climber. This novel-like biography explores the complicated man behind the myth, from his privileged upbringing through almost a century of adventure and achievement. A man of big ideas and big ambitions, Houston began experimenting in 1946 with altitude chambers, developing the first method for inoculating against hypoxia, in order to conquer Everest. Ten years later he was building, in his garage, the first "crude designs" for the artificial heart. There are fascinating asides into Houston's "bouillabaisse" of careers, including work for the U.S. Army, medical practices in Exeter and Aspen, and his reluctant stint as a Peace Corps director in India, an eventful tenure. Author and climber McDonald (I'll Call You in Kathmandu) deepens Houston's legacy by providing a view of his inner struggles with depression, revealing this larger-than-life figure in very human terms, making Houston a pleasure to spend time with; as one of hiss fellow climbers would say of Houston, years later, "his accomplishments are nothing compared the greatness of his soul."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
--This text refers to the
Charles Houston is a fascinating individual. Most people are considered accomplished if they excel in one aspect of life. Houston—mountain climber, physician, peace activist, researcher, and teacher—excelled in so many areas that it is hard to believe he is not a household name. He climbed in Alaska and India and scouted an approach to Everest, but gave up serious climbing when one member of their party died during an attempt to scale K2. During World War II, he combined his medical knowledge with his climbing expertise to conduct research for the army into pilots' reactions to high altitudes. Houston was also a small-town doctor, an innovator in the making of artificial hearts, director of the newly established Peace Corps operation in India, a teacher in medical school, and an ongoing researcher. His adventurous spirit and strong personality were both assets and liabilities for most of his life as he served as an inspiration and mentor to many. Despite McDonald's somewhat wooden writing style, this biography is a wonderful introduction to a many-talented man deserving of attention. Hoover, Danise Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
--This text refers to the