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The Last of His Kind: The Life and Adventures of Bradford Washburn, America's Boldest Mountaineer Paperback – June 15, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
American Brad Washburn's impact on his protégés and imitators was as profound as that of any other adventurer in the twentieth century. Unquestionably regarded as the greatest mountaineer in Alaskan history and as one of the finest mountain photographers of all time, Washburn transformed American attitudes toward wilderness and revolutionized the art of mountaineering and exploration in the great ranges. In The Last of His Kind, National Geographic Adventure contributing editor David Roberts goes beyond conventional biography to reveal the essence of this man through the prism of his extraordinary exploits from New England to Chamonix, and from the Himalayas to the Yukon. An exciting narrative of mountain climbing in the twentieth century, The Last of His Kind brings into focus Washburn's deeds in the context of the history of mountaineering, and provides a fascinating look at an amazing culture and the influential icon who shaped it.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book is filled with minutiae about Bradford Washburn, giving the reader bits and pieces about his life without any feel for him as a person. I know that he was a climber, adventurer, photographer, cartographer, public speaker and museum director. I know that he was determined and stubborn. I know that he was married for many years to Barbara Washburn and that they had three children. Other than that, I can't say as I came away from this book knowing any more than that about him. I wanted to know what he was like as a person. What made him tick. What was his personality like. He does seem self-centered but Roberts never goes into that.
Roberts describes him as the premier climber of Alaska and the Yukon. Having lived in Alaska for over 40 years I can attest to Bradford Washburn being an icon.
If the book was edited so that it focused solely on Bradford Washburn, it would be much better and about 150 pages shorter.Read more ›
Roberts' approach is chronological, walking the reader quickly up through Washburn's New England youth, his initial hiking experiences in New Hampshire's White Mountains, and his introduction as a teenager to mountaineering in the Alps, before plunging into a series of expeditions in the wilds of Alaska. An older Washburn enjoyed a long twilight as a senior mentor of the American mountaineering community.
Washburn, like his contemporary Eric Shipton, specialized in exploring blank spots on the map. For this reviewer, the best portions of the book are the hair-raising narratives of Washburn's traverses of the Wrangel-St. Elias, Chugach, and Alaska ranges, days to weeks away from outside assistance. Washburn's adventures on Mount McKinley (Denali to Alaska residents) are a highlight of this biography.
This book is less than fully satisfying as a biography. Roberts omits footnotes and, less forgivably, maps and pictures. The narrative has many breathless, sometimes gossipy anecdotes; Roberts cannot resist exploring sidetrails of mountaineering history that have little to do with Washburn's life. Oddly, Roberts seems reluctant to provide much insight into Washburn himself. For example, he wonders aloud why Washburn was never invited on any of the Himalayian expeditions of his day.Read more ›
In addition to those strange choices of focus, the main narrative is regularly distracted by stories about mountaineers who are not Washburn. Even if Washburn was not included on an expedition, or if he declined to go along, we might nonetheless get a story about it if the expedition included some of his friends. Many of these stories concern the Andes or Himalaya, where Washburn did not climb. It's difficult to understand what this material is doing in this book other than providing Roberts an opportunity to use (or reuse) some material.
Finally, the last two chapters relate a series of anecdotes, mostly about people around Washburn (including the author). Roberts claims Washburn as a mentor but the contacts that he reports do not seem deep, or personal enough to warrant such a claim. Interestingly, Roberts' relationship with Washburn's wife Barbara are reported in much more detail and make a more convincing case for a mentor-protégé relationship.
So, there are a lot of authorial choices here that struck me as odd.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating profile of a prolific mountaineer/photographer who also was uniquely gifted as a cartographer. Read morePublished 21 days ago by NathanTressler
I never knew who Brad Washburn was, or The Harvard Five for that matter, but this book provided a great account of Brad's life and his exploration and love for Alaska,... Read morePublished 11 months ago by RXCOJD
Could not stop reading it. Admiration for the man and his adventures is boundless. Fell in love with his wife several times. Author makes fact come alive. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Bernard Greenberg
Everything went as scheduled and expected, book was in excellent condition. No surprises, very good price. Would purchase again for surePublished on December 25, 2013 by NH Relo
An outstanding summary of the life of America's great pioneer of mountaineering. A great reference for those interested in the adventure of great mountains.Published on February 12, 2013 by clmbr
Great book; fascinating history of early mountainneering in Alaska. He certainly seems to be the last of his kind having accomplished feats that are no longer possible.Published on August 28, 2012 by FieldEngineer
This is a great biography of the early days of Alaska Climbing. Brad Washburn was a true 20th century explorer. Read morePublished on January 18, 2011 by J. McClane