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High Exposure: An Enduring Passion for Everest and Unforgiving Places Hardcover – May 10, 1999
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"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
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David Breashears has climbed Mt. Everest four times. For this, he is known as a world-class mountaineer. A lengthy career in documentary filmmaking--including the Imax film, Everest--has earned him wide acclaim and four Emmy awards. For this, he is known as one of the elite cinematographers in his field. But his new autobiography, High Exposure: An Enduring Passion for Everest and Other High Places, proves he is more than a climber and a filmmaker; he is also an able writer.
Breashears has no lack of good material. We follow him through the stunning backdrops of Yosemite, Europe, Nepal, and Tibet, brushing up against triumphs and tragedies along the way. And while the nuts and bolts of his adventures are entertainment enough, his knack for building suspense and employing understated drama makes his autobiography read like a novel: "The morning was sunny and calm, and Rob looked as though he'd lain down on his side and fallen asleep. Around him the undisturbed snow sparkled in the sun. I stared at his bare left hand ... I wondered what a mountaineer with Rob's experience was doing without a glove."
Breashears also likes to remind his audience of humble beginnings surmounted: his early climbing days when he was known as "the kid," and a winter he spent sleeping under a sheet of plywood during the Wyoming oil boom when he was called "the worm." But mostly he documents his filmmaking career and climbing passion, both of which he approaches with an obsessive fervor. Readers interested in either pursuit will find High Exposure a fascinating traverse across the spine of the world. --Ben Tiffany
From Publishers Weekly
Possibly the most interesting aspect of this book is how improbable it seems that Breashears (Mountain Without Mercy) ever lived to write it. An accomplished alpinist, Breashears not only recounts his numerous, dicey ascents of the planets peaks but also explores his motivation for doing so. Though he is an experienced cinematographer whose past employers range from PBS to Hollywood, Breashears is most widely known as the director of the IMAX film Everest. While filming the movie, Breashears and his crew were fortunate to avoid the unforgiving storm at the mountains summit that led to the death of eight people and was chronicled in Jon Krakauers Into Thin Air. Breashears uses that tragic season on Everest as a frame for a personal memoir. The focus is on how he stepped out of the shadow of his violent military father and discovered his passions for climbing and filmmaking. Some of his psychology is simplistic, but there is no doubt that Breashears is as serious about understanding his actions as he is about succeeding in them. And there is no shortage of action, whether he is scaling a 1000-foot vertical rock or narrowly escaping being swept off a cliff by a runaway tonnage of snow. Though at times the book is self-aggrandizing, a little ego can be tolerated in this largely engrossing work, and is, perhaps, only to be expected from someone who has four times scrabbled up the ice and rocks of Everest to reach the top of the world. 16 pages full-color photos not seen by PW. Major ad/promo; appearances on Larry King Live and Today; first serial to Mens Journal.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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The early part of the book spends too much time belaboring his childhood and the latter part of the book re-hashes much of what is already known about the 1996 tragedy, albeit from a different perspective.
Nevertheless, it is a good, enjoyable read.
His colorful and well-written autobiography also does great service in helping those of us who prefer to have our adventure while sitting in the comfort of our reading room just what it is that draws people like him to the pursuit of mountaineering. Indeed, his gleeful enthusiasm is close to being contagious; this too is testimony to Brashears' ability to write convincingly and well. His approach is so colorful as to blur the lines between biography and fiction, and I often found myself having to remember that all this really did happen. It is that well written.
His beginnings, too, seem like the stuff of popular fiction; a childhood of humility and privation, his early exploits in climbing on a virtual shoestring, his wildcat days in the oil field, all seem to fit this persona that wangles his way into situations and then has the gumption, intelligence, and character to pull it all off. He progresses with climbs both domestically and internationally, finally reaching into Nepal and Tibet. Always with him is this sense of humor on the one hand, and a willingness to take risks that most of just would turn away from. One senses he is heading for even more danger and self-discovery. Of course, the key to the book is his description of the events leading up to, including, and after the tragic catastrophe and loss of several climbers' lives in the ascent of the mountain. Busy himself with both the climb on the one hand and the IMAX filming of it on the other left him little time for instant reflection or remorse. These things probably helped him to focus on what had to be done to go on with the successful climb, the discovery of the bodies, and a safe descent to the camps far below. I found myself sorry to reach the final pages of his book, and I for one hope to find more writing from this talented filmmaker, writer, and climber in the future. I can highly recommend this book, and I think you will enjoy it, as well.
Most recent customer reviews
It about author's life, which is beyond a doubt very grasping, but felt like it lacks detailed...Read more