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The Ascent of Rum Doodle Hardcover – Large Print, January 1, 2003

34 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Large Print, January 1, 2003
$63.78 $50.23
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A bumbling group of British mountaineers mounts an assault on Rum Doodle, a slightly higher neighbor of Everest, in Bowman's parody novel, which was published in 1956 and became a classic within the climbing community. Bowman cobbles together a wide-ranging crew of lovably clueless climbers, including the puffed-up narrator, Binder, and a misguided guide named Humphrey Jungle, who constantly gets lost and turns up in unlikely places. Other prominent members include measurement-obsessed scientist Christopher Wish as well as linguistic expert Lancelot Constant, whose chief talent seems to be ticking off the porters from the indigenous tribe called the Yogistani, who speak through their stomachs via a series of indecipherable grunts. Early on, a memorable mishap occurs, in which Jungle ends up falling into a crevasse and the rescue effort consists of the rest of the crew joining him while they get soused on "medicinal" champagne. Bowman also offers a couple of predictable chapters as the group goes in circles and then proceeds to climb the wrong mountain, and he spends an inordinate amount of prose on their suffering at the hands of the sadistic cook, a Yogistani named Pong. Bowman manages to sustain a very thin conceit for a large number of chapters, although the silliness can at times be sophomoric. He redeems himself somewhat with an amusing "surprise" ending that features the 3,000 Yogistani porters involved in the expedition, and overall he proves himself to be an entertaining humorist who has much to offer for readers who like their outdoor humor dripping with understated British irony. B&w illus. (Feb. 1)Forecast: A new introduction by Bill Bryson (advertised in type bigger than the author's name on the book's cover) will draw readers who would otherwise almost certainly have missed this comic treat of a reissue.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Wonderful. Rum Doodle does for mountaineering what Three Men in a Boat did for Thames-going or Catch-22 did for the Second World War. It is simply an account of the leader of an expedition up Rum Doodle, a 40,000 and a half foot peak in the Himalayas, in the same way that Scoop is simply a tale about newsgathering in Africa. The tone is nearer to Pooter than anyone else I can think of, but the flavour is all W.E. Bowman's own."
--Sunday Times

"This wonderfully funny parody of adventure stories was first written in the 1950s but is just as fresh today with a truly brilliant comic narrator whose commentary on the expedition members is unintentionally hilarious."
--Sunday Mirror

"This gentle, deadly parody of the tight-arsed old school of British exploration narratives is seemingly a cult book among mountaineers, but it has been virtually unknown to the reading public since its first publication in 1956. "
--Guardian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Isis (January 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0753166690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0753166697
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,826,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By bensmomma on January 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
There was a period of time a few years back during which I ate up the literature of British exploration like candy - the tragic story of Robert Scott in the Antarctic, the thrilling survival adventures of Sir Ernest Shackleton, and the like. These yarns had in common their Britishness - a bizarre combination of courage and, frankly, foolishness (Scott thought he could get to the South Pole on PONIES and died in pursuit of that belief, accompanied by some people who had never even been south before, while the Norwegian Amundsen sensibly took dogs and experienced skiers and beat him to the destination).

Fortunately the British have a world-class capacity to poke fun at their own foibles, and that is what "Ascent of Rum Doodle" is all about. It parodies a (fictional) expedition to ascend Rum Doodle, a 40,000-foot (!) mountain somewhere near Everest

Expedition Leader Binder narrates his own story. In the spirit of the literature he parodies, our hero Binder never once falters in his belief of the superiority of his crew and the indomitability of the British Spirit. This, despite his crew consisting of a geographer (who is unable to negotiate the London bus system), a doctor (who is always sick), a climber (too overcome by "lassitude" to get out of his sleeping bag), a native cook (so disastrous that the team attempts to leave him behind on the mountain), and a photographer (who does not capture a single shot during the entire expedition.

This hapless crew are babysat by thousands of native porters, who at one point must condescend to actually carry the British crew (fortified by the many crates of medicinal champagne they have burdened the porters with) on their backs.

Did I mention they accidentally climb the wrong mountain??
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David Thoenen on June 24, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you're a serious student of mountaineering history and/or literature this is a must read. Rum Doodle will help you to put your passion into proper perspective.

If you don't give a damn about climbing but enjoy understated humor this is a fun read.

However, if you don't "get" nice and dry British humor don't bother. It's just not the book for you.

This is without a doubt the greatest spoof of the British mountaineering expedition accounts ever conceived. Every word of the book will ring true to readers that are familiar with the genre. I've read it three times and still find myself laughing out loud. But then again, I'm a climber so what do I know?
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By T. D. Welsh on February 12, 2005
Format: Paperback
You never know with humour, and for the first half of this book I wasn't at all sure I was going to like it. Was it funny at all? I couldn't make up my mind. Then, more or less as the great climb got well and truly under way, something in my mind meshed with the sublime, ethereal imbecility of the author's theme and suddenly I kept roaring with laughter.

In a way, this is a quintessentially English book. Its humour is so gentle, so oblique, so dry. Even the running gags - of which there are many - take a while to bed down. The first reference to carrying cases of champagne up the mountain tends to have little or no impact on your brain. It's such a ridiculously impossible idea that your mind simply rejects it. But it keeps coming back, progressively associated with the expedition leader's stolid persistence in believing that it is all for "medicinal purposes", until suddenly you are swept away by helpless laughter.

If you appreciate dry wit, and you happen to have a day to spare (two half-days will answer almost as well), you really owe it to yourself to join our intrepid heros and share their triumphs, disasters and general roaring incompetence. You won't regret it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Estelle Du Bose on June 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
TEST:
When you see photos or films of intrepid explorers risking life, limb and treasure to climb a mountain because it was there, do you:
a)hold your breath find your heart beating faster, admiring them b)always remember that the photographer with equipment was AHEAD of the explorer.
Answer b) and this book is for you. A spoof in the spirit of Dr. Strangelove. A great summer read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S. Crawley on January 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
I've worked my way through so many copies of this book it's actually not funny! The issue is I can't help lending them to friends or random people I meet, and it is rarely returned. It's the best book ever! Buy me another copy, it's on my Amazon Wish List! Why do Amazon not sell this book in packs of ten?

Anyway, the story is a beautiful tale of British misadventure in the Himalayas. If you've ever been to the region this will add to your appreciation of the humour, but if not - neither had the author, apparently Bowman never left the UK. This book is the Fawlty Towers of Mountaineering, and should really be made into a film (there's already a restaurant named after it in Kathmandu).

Update: Incidentally I have now read the source book which Rum Doodle set out to parady - The Ascent of Nanda Devi by HW Tilman, and I can report that the source book is funny too, though not to the extent of RD (it is a proper mountaineering account, after all!). I gave a copy (3 for 2 at famous London map shop at the moment ;) to a friend a few days ago and yesterday he rang me merely to tell me that he was reading RD on the train and had to stop because of the roaring laughter it was inducing. NB the litmus test is whether you like Jerome K Jerome humour - if you found Three Men in a Boat funny, you will love this book!
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