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Touching My Father's Soul: A Sherpa's Journey to the Top of Everest Audio, Cassette – Abridged, Audiobook
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In a spectacular and mesmerizing narrative, Jamling Tenzing Norgay, the climbing leader for the IMAX film expedition on Mount Everest, details the ill-fated 1996 summer climbing season (made famous by Jon Krakauer's Into Thin Air) and deftly weaves in the history, politics, triumphs, and tragedies of climbing the world's tallest mountain. Norgay knows Everest, and Touching My Father's Soul is a must-read for anyone contemplating a summit attempt, even if exclusively from the comfort of a favorite armchair.
Just because technological and meteorological advances have benefited later expeditions, newer isn't necessarily better; much wisdom can be gained from studying the mistakes and encounters of previous attempts. Anecdotes and gripping prose shine throughout, like this gem: "That night--and then the following night--we lay in our tents listening to the malevolent roar of wind high on the mountain. The train was still running, the 747 endlessly trying to take off." As a Sherpa and practicing Buddhist, Norgay flavors the book with his culture and its climbing rituals and carefully dissects the differences between the local, deep respect for their mountain--Chomolungma--and the nonnative brashness that has often led to disaster.
Norgay is intent on the accomplishments and experiences of his legendary father, Tenzing Norgay, the Sherpa who first reached the summit with Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953, and commendably shares his most private and human thoughts while retracing his father's greatest path. As Touching My Father's Soul acknowledges, however, no one conquers Everest. You sneak up on it, then get down as quick as you can. --Michael Ferch --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
The 1996 Everest tragedy is widely known through Krakauer's Into Thin Air. Here, Norgay, son of one of the first two men to scale Mt. Everest in 1953, describes his experience leading the IMAX team that filmed their own 1996 climb. Lower on the mountain during the infamous storm, Norgay's team had radio contact with the doomed expedition and participated in later stages of rescue. Possessing an amazing trove of cultural and historical understanding, Norgay, with Coburn (coauthor of Everest: Mountain Without Mercy), intersperses his narrative with stories of his father's famous ascent and provides insights into the society of the Sherpa, the Tibetan Buddhists who help Westerners climb Everest. Physiologists believe, he writes, that Tibetans "may possess a gene that allows for more efficient oxygen delivery at high elevations." Western readers will be struck by the significance Sherpas ascribe to fate in achieving a feat that for most Westerners is a glorification of individual strength and will. It's refreshing to encounter a Tibetan sensibility and perspective in an adventure narrative, although there's not much new here about the tragic 1996 events, the commercialization of Everest, the competition among groups, etc. But Norgay's clever weaving of the parallel stories of his climb and his father's enriches an already gripping tale. The broad, well-established adventure audience will devour this book. Photos. (May)Forecast: A 15-city author tour, Krakauer's name on the cover, Sherpa mystique and the skillful prose and storytelling will win this book the acclaim and sales it deserves.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top customer reviews
Mr. Norgay states that he was raised as, to all intents and purposes, only nominally Buddhist. It's as if a "forsythia Catholic" suddenly got religion and wrote about a pilgrimage to Lourdes or a "Jack Mormon" decided to make the trek of the Mormon Handcart Pioneers.
It would have been interesting to learn more about Buddhism, in general, and Tibetan Buddhism, in particular, but we seem, instead, to be treated to a catalogue of how many famous rimpoches he met, how many after-the-fact prophecies there were, how many times he prostrated himself and how many butter lamps he paid for. And, what he does say is so contradictory. He calls westerners who take part in pre-climb ceremonies "superstitious" and then talks about his serious efforts to appease the various gods and demons that inhabit the area. He also states, "Sherpas fear dharma more than they fear the law." and then goes on to tell how many ways Sherpas cheat or steal from westerners. Apparently, dharma has as much ethical force as hell.
Mr. Norgay also doesn't reveal all that much about his father...which isn't his fault. Being a famous man, Tenzing doesn't appear to have had much time for his sons and Mr. Norgay doesn't seem to have much knowledge that isn't already on Wiki. He does have a few second-hand family anecdotes but they add little.
He does cover the 1996 Everest disaster but his account is so interspersed with his musings on religion and other comments that it's a tough slog...and I'm a bookaholic and can read anything...words-in-a-row. VERY disjointed.
Actually, I think that Broughton Coburn, the ghostwriter, should bear the brunt of the blame. He should have said that no one cares about the number of prostrations or if the rimpoche has tea or not and that one mention of butter lamps would justify the truly beautiful photograph in the book. He should have said that, "My father never discussed it." isn't biography and that people wanted to know more about the 1996 tragedy from the Sherpa viewpoint than we were given. Short quotes of outbursts of anger isn't viewpoint.
All in all, the book isn't horrible and there were parts of it that I really liked. At the price it's selling for now, it's worth the money and I suppose that real Everest fans would want a first edition for their collections but, for me...
I bought it. I read it. I'm done with it.