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on August 4, 2015
Great and insightful account of Mallory's attempt at Everest, travel through the region and the impact on society of WWI.
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on August 2, 2015
Very good book with lots of Mallory information that I was not aware of. It does go quite a bit into WW1, a little too much for my taste. But, if you are interested in George Mallory, I recommend this book.
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on July 9, 2015
Great story, or I should say stories, the book covers a lot of ground. I also recommend the audiobook.
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on June 22, 2015
Great book
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on June 12, 2015
I loved this book. I finished it a few weeks ago and I'm still haunted by it. I've stayed up late several nights wondering if Mallory and Irvine made it to the summit. I think they did (more on that later).

I agree with some of the other reviewers that the first few chapters about the political history of Tibet were tedious. However, as I got deeper into the book I appreciated that background knowledge. It was nice to know the full story, and it was amazing to discover how hard it was for the Everest expeditions to actually take form and become a reality.

The characters described in this book are unforgettable. Mallory is the star of the show, but there are many others that I never would have known about if the author hadn't brought them to light. One of my favorites was Teddy Norton. There is an amazing picture of him climbing within 1,000 feet of the summit without oxygen in 1924.

Most of the main characters spent time on the front lines during WWI. The author does a great job of explaining each man's war experience, and this allows the reader to understand how the men could tolerate the challenges on Everest. Everything is relative, and the wind and snow and elevation on Everest were mere discomforts compared to the Western Front.

Of course, the big question is whether Mallory and Irvine made it to the top in 1924. The book doesn't answer that question, and it's the mystery that makes the story so powerful. For a real treat, one should go to YouTube immediately after finishing the book and watch the five-part BBC documentary Lost of Everest. This shows the expedition that discovered Mallory's body in 1999.

I've studied several sources and my amateur conclusion is that Mallory and Irvine did make it to the summit. I believe that because all the solid evidence indicates that they made it. For example, when Mallory's body was found in 1999, his sun goggles were in his pocket, meaning he probably fell after dark. He was last seen near the summit at 12:50 p.m. by Noel Odell. If he was still coming down the mountain eight hours later, what else could he have done during that time other than make it to the summit?

In my opinion, all the evidence that the climbers didn't make it to the top is wishy-washy. It tends to be statements such as, "Their gear was primitive compared to modern gear," or "I just think the climbing on the 2nd Step was too difficult for people in Mallory's day." As I mentioned before, there is a picture of Norton less than 1,000 feet below the summit and without oxygen. His "primitive" gear didn't stop him from making it that high. Mallory was a much better climber and had oxygen. Why is it so hard to believe he could climb 900 feet higher than Norton?

I respect opinions on both sides and it's fun to debate the matter with people who know the basic story. In the end, the case may never be conclusively solved. That's what makes this story, and especially this book, so unforgettable. It's was an utterly human experience for the climbers back then, and it's an utterly human experience for readers to ponder the mystery today.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2015
excellent research. excellent writing, unfortunately the whole the tone of the book was rather lifeless, ( i know the author intended to do this so the characters could speak to you as they were so the author maintains a stoic journalistic "objectivity" as much as possible which i can appreciate ) but it didn't really make for a wonderful read but still was a pleasant read at times...the characters, however- none of which drew me- im not sure if that is the fault of the author for not drawing out their personalities more or just that these characters were in many ways a product of their times, spoiled, entitled English colonialists at the time when the world was flagged red under the banner of the British Empire but also jaded from the horrors of world war one.
it was definitely not a "powerful" or "moving" read by any stretch( as some times description on the back ) too much superfluous detail esp. about the war. also just lacked passion from the author and the characters. Mallory and his expeditions ,seemed rather soulless...as if they were just walking somnambulists toward their fate, lacking all depth of character, none of which had any spiritual inclination, nor were of any remarkable interest as far as personalities, partly due to their self absorbtion, typical im sure of the colonial superiority complex they held little if any curiosity about their surrounding environment, buddhist culture etc....., just single focused entitled colonial Englishmen out to conquer a mountain using up humans and yaks to the point of death from exhaustion among the way, and oh well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2015
This is a great book, and I mean that in every sense of the word. I believe it will still be read in a hundred years as THE classic account of that era and of that endeavor. The account of WWI alone is worth reading this book.
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on May 31, 2015
My lasting impression of this book is that of the focus and suffering, brought on by a mix of naivite, lack of technology, imperial ambition, and " Boy'S Own" heroism and sense of duty, that these climbers endured. The earlier chapters, framing the sagas context in the values of Edwardian Britain, and the tragic experience of a generation in the trenches of Flanders, are poignant as they combine the Blythe spirit and the fatalism of the age. The downside of this; the class divisions that both centered and divided the climbing elite of the era, the strange brew of callous ethnocentricism and noblesse oblige toward the Sherpa and Tibetian cultures, and the shocking gaps in scientific knowledge that still marked the 20 th century. Book is full of long forgotten stories; the history of the Survey of India would itself be a rewarding read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2015
just sort of stumbled onto this one. well worth it. i have never understood people driven by an dream and who pursue that dream where ever it might take them. i envy them most times. this book puts it out there and helped me understand that dream and pursuit a little better. it also sent me off to several other books on the same story of george malloy's quest. it was quite a trip for me. good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 15, 2015
This an interesting book covering the loss of the flower of British youth during the Great War, and the desire of a few survivors of that conflict to leave their mark on the world outside the trenches. It re-enforces the thought that even now Everest is a dangerous place. I suggest reading Into Thin Air as well.
The only problem I had was trying to sort out and keep up with the multiple personalities from the several Everest expeditions as the members were never exactly the same. This book also drives home the concept of, if you die on Everest you stay on Everest.
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