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A Life on the Edge: Memoirs of Everest and Beyond Hardcover – September, 1999
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From Kirkus Reviews
Whittaker, the first American to summit Everest, tells here the story of his life thus farhe has managed to reach 70which has been lived with the kind of intensity that only his adrenal glands can truly appreciate. Whittaker never actively courted peril; indeed, as he tells it, though luck has been his friend, its also ``something you make happenby extending yourself into situations of risk but also by preparing yourself to succeed under those risky conditions.'' He didn't just climb Everest in 1963 (he deadpans his way through the tribulations of that feat), but had been unknowingly preparing for it as a mountain guide and rescue team member in the Pacific Northwest. Hed been in enough precarious situations to know the difference between objective dangers (avalanches, rock falls) and subjective gamble, when risky business becomes flagrant exposure. Though Whittaker gained wide recognition for his climb of Everest and his expedition to K2, the mountaineering community will also remember him as the force behind REI, the funky climbing-supplies cooperative that did so much to give climbing its antiestablishment, bohemian tone. His personal life has had just the same rugged topography as his preferred landscapes, and he reveals it to his readers in a lean, patient voice. There was divorce and separation from his children, financial ruin, the loss of friends to climbing accidents. And there was remarriage and connecting with his children, both young and old, and so much time outdoors doing what he loved, embracing not just the high peaks but all of nature transient: ``It was just after midnight. The temperature was twenty degrees below zero, a soft quilt of powder snow covered everything, and ice-dust sparkled in the moonlight. I sat in a small aspen grove . . . in awe of the beauty around me.'' Whittaker has a knack for finding such silent, sublime places. Now he's off sailing around the world with his family, trusting again to that angel who has watched over his shoulder. (24 pages color photos, 50 b&w photos, not seen) (Author tour) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
An engaging memoir -- Gilber Taylor, Booklist, September 1, 1999
Big Jim [Whittaker] has written a blunt, consistently interesting book. -- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Sept. 13, 1999
His story is as rich and inspirational as the actual events that he's experienced and written about. -- Sports Etc.
It is fascinating to accompany him vicariously on his treks to some of the world's most formidable peaks ... His discussion on the physical, technical and emotional challenges of mountain climbing is insightful, occasionally humorous, and periodically terrifying. -- Barbara Lloyd McMichael, Tacoma News Tribune
My father's greatest living heroes were John Glenn and Jim Whittaker-a physical giant with a huge heart, a decent soul, and inspirational courage. We can all be grateful that Whittaker has finally put his extraordinary life on paper. Whittaker's story is a riveting saga of high adventure by one of history's greatest climbers. -- Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
There's much, much more than one summit in Whittaker's memoirs. His life's stories mirror the changes in this country in many areas: recreation, environment, presidents, peace efforts and nuclear bombs ... This is a book by a man who knows the importance of a well-lived life.(Everett (WA) Herald) -- Everett (WA) Herald
This is the life story of a Northwest icon. One cannot totally understand the outdoor history of this region... -- Spokesman-Review [Spokane, WA]
Transcends the usual adventure tale because it focuses on the attachments to the outdoors and the challenges and frustrations of life. -- Klamath Falls Herald and News
Whittaker shows a fine knack for retrieving from memory small outdoors sensations we all relate to in unexpectedly emotional ways. -- Ron C. Judd, The Seattle Times, Sept. 16, 1999
Whittaker writes engagingly about many topics--politics, business, the environment, religion--while displaying keen curiosity about the world. -- Hood River News
Top customer reviews
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I was stuck by the absolute humility of the author. If I were in his shoes, I am afraid you would witness a lot of narcassitic behavior. In fact, I know you would. However, Jim keeps his ego in check and is quick to credit others with his success. I don't buy it for a minute but it was refreshing nevertheless.
If you enjoy adventure types of stories, you will be very happy with this purchase. I know I am.
Michael L. Gooch, Author, Wingtips with Spurs.