Tuesday, December 18, 2012

ABOVE ALL THINGS by Tanis Rideout

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

I really love it when books can so capture your imagination that they make you want to head out to your local library to learn more. This is one of those books. I used to work at a natural history museum and, for a time, there was a big focus on Everest. This was when the Everest IMAX movie came out in conjunction with Krakauer's INTO THIN AIR.  Everest has become a symbol of hubris.  The fact that no climber can go up Everest without passing a trail of bodies is testament to this fact. One of the first men who caught the Everest bug was George Mallory.  In this book, Rideout imagines Mallory's last Everest bid and its effect on him, his fellow climbers and his family.  She alternates between Mallory's experiences on the mountain and those of his wife Ruth.  We so often focus on the adventures of these men that we seldom think about the effects that their actions have on their families.  Rideout does a wonderful job of capturing Ruth's reaction to Mallory's obsession with Everest.  While the ending of the story is already known, I think Rideout does an excellent job in how she interprets Mallory's last moments and Ruth's reaction to his death.  It is a wonderful story of a great love and a great obsession.

As soon as I finished this book, I immediately got busy trying to learn more about Mallory and his climbing partner "Sandy" Irvine. I wanted to learn more about that last fatal bid for the top as well as what happened to Ruth after Mallory's death.  One of the hardest parts of this story is that we will never really know what happened in Mallory's last moments. Did he make it to the top? Was it worth it? We may never know.  After reading this book, however, I am both glad my husband isn't a climber and more certain than ever that I have no desire to visit Everest.

BOTTOM LINE: Recommended. A wonderful tragic tale of hubris and love.  This book will make you want to learn more about Everest and the many tragic secrets that it holds.

1 comment:

Bookfool said...

Sounds like a really interesting read. I love it when a book sends one rushing out to learn more. You get twice the joy from having your interest piqued in something new. Having said all that, I'm with you. I don't really understand adrenaline junkies and what drives them, especially in a place where passing dead bodies is part of the process! Eeks. I do love the fact that the author included the wife's perspective.