Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes

Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes

by Maurice Isserman, Dee Molenaar, Stewart Angas Weaver
     
 

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The first successful ascent of Mount Everest in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa teammate Tenzing Norgay is a familiar saga, but less well known are the tales of many other adventurers who also came to test their skills and courage against the world’s highest and most dangerous mountains. In this lively and generously illustrated book, historians

Overview

The first successful ascent of Mount Everest in 1953 by Sir Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa teammate Tenzing Norgay is a familiar saga, but less well known are the tales of many other adventurers who also came to test their skills and courage against the world’s highest and most dangerous mountains. In this lively and generously illustrated book, historians Maurice Isserman and Stewart Weaver present the first comprehensive history of Himalayan mountaineering in fifty years. They offer detailed, original accounts of the most significant climbs since the 1890s, and they compellingly evoke the social and cultural worlds that gave rise to those expeditions.

The book recounts the adventures of such figures as Martin Conway, who led the first authentic Himalayan climbing expedition in 1892; Fanny Bullock Workman, the pioneer explorer of the Karakoram range; George Mallory, the romantic martyr of Mount Everest fame; Charlie Houston, who led American expeditions to K2 in the 1930s and 1950s; Ang Tharkay, the legendary Sherpa, and many others. Throughout, the authors discuss the effects of political and social change on the world of mountaineering, and they offer a penetrating analysis of a culture that once emphasized teamwork and fellowship among climbers, but now has been eclipsed by a scramble for individual fame and glory.

Editorial Reviews

Bruce Barcott
The authors tease out the evolution of modern mountaineering, combining vivid storytelling with an eye for detail, accuracy and fairness…Fallen Giants is the book of a lifetime for its authors, an awe-inspiring work of history and storytelling. They've scoured mountaineering archives in India, Germany, Britain and the United States, and drawn from nearly 500 books and articles, from the famous to the obscure. Their endnotes and bibliography run to more than 100 pages. Isserman and Weaver brilliantly present the complete picture—the political context, the changing social dynamics, the emergence of modern climbing technique—without losing sight of the need to entertain. Fallen Giants absolutely brims with vivid characters, from the Duke of the Abruzzi to George Mallory to Aleister Crowley (Mr. 666, a Himalayan climber—who knew?) to Tenzing Norgay to Reinhold Messner, hard men and egotists, saints and scoundrels. Armchair mountaineers will give the book pride of place in their collections. A word, though: keep it on a low shelf, where boys and girls can discover it and start dreaming of their own expeditions.
—The New York Times
Booklist

"This survey history establishes base camp for readers interested in the history of Himalayan climbing expeditions. Its strength lies in the way it puts each undertaking within the context of evolving styles of high-altitude mountaineering."—Booklist

New York Times Book Review

"Fallen Giants is the book of a lifetime . . . an awe-inspiring work of history and storytelling. . . . Armchair mountaineers will give the book pride of place in their collections."—Bruce Barcott, New York Times Book Review

— Bruce Barcott

Failure

"It''s difficult to find fault with this exceptionally well-written tome, a must-read for any fan of climbing literature."—Kathleen A. Ervin, Failure

— Kathleen A. Ervin

Foreward Magazine

"Heroism, death, and drama abound. . . . The author's thoroughness and range make this hefty volume nearly encyclopedic in scope; the details on the 'how' of climbing, the no-margin-for-error experience, and the bonus of Vittorio Sella's unmatched photographs make for a great book."—Foreward Magazine (Outstanding University Press Books 2008)
The Atlantic Monthly

"Heroism, death, and drama abound. . . . The author''s thoroughness and range make this hefty volume nearly encyclopedic in scope; the details on the ''how'' of climbing, the no-margin-for-error experience, and the bonus of Vittorio Sella''s unmatched photographs make for a great book."—Foreward Magazine (Outstanding University Press Books 2008)

Journal of American History

"A deeply researched and comprehensive treatment of mountaineering in the Himalaya that is an engaging narrative and an illuminating analysis of larger themes."--Mark Harvey, Journal of American History

— Mark Harvey

Arlene Blum

“In Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes, Maurice Isserman and Stewart Weaver share unforgettable stories of the history of the world’s highest peaks and the climbers who challenged their lofty summits. Their in-depth research gives us unique insights into previously unknown controversies, mysteries, and dramas. This thoughtful book, from a scholarly perspective, introduces us to the greatest peaks and personalities of mountaineering. The new information, intriguing details, insightful interpretations and dry humor make this a must read for armchair mountaineers as well as all who aspire to the heights.”—Arlene Blum, author of Breaking Trail: A Climbing Life

Charles S. Houston

Fallen Giants captures the spirit of Himalayan climbing. It is wonderfully written and will become an indispensable reference.”—Charles S. Houston, co-author of K2: The Savage Mountain

John T. Reilly

"This book fills a void in the history of mountaineering, and it will appeal not only to climbers but also historians. The authors have done a prodigious amount of research."—John T. Reilly, Mount Saint Mary College

Nick Clinch

“This will be the definitive history of mountaineering in the Himalaya, clear, free of jargon, and readable, and so thorough that it will not be worth anyone's time to repeat this effort."—Nick Clinch, leader, 1958 American Hidden Peak expedition, and past president, American Alpine Club

Tom Hornbein

“Isserman and Weaver, both unassuming wanderers of high hills, have pulled off a great first ascent: a scholarly, grippingly readable history of Himalayan mountaineering that not only captures the tenuous essence of great successes and failures, but places the accounts of these climbs into historical context.”—Tom Hornbein, author of Everest: The West Ridge

Greg Glade

“This would be a great first book to expose a reader to the amazing stories and sacrifices held within the body of mountaineering literature. Additionally, the historian, scholar, and collector will delight in the unique, in-depth look at the evolution of climbing, and its driving factors, in the Himalaya.”—Greg Glade, owner, Top of the World Books
New York Times Book Review - Bruce Barcott

"Fallen Giants is the book of a lifetime . . . an awe-inspiring work of history and storytelling. . . . Armchair mountaineers will give the book pride of place in their collections."—Bruce Barcott, New York Times Book Review

Failure - Kathleen A. Ervin

"It's difficult to find fault with this exceptionally well-written tome, a must-read for any fan of climbing literature."—Kathleen A. Ervin, Failure
Journal of American History - Mark Harvey

"A deeply researched and comprehensive treatment of mountaineering in the Himalaya that is an engaging narrative and an illuminating analysis of larger themes."--Mark Harvey, Journal of American History

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300142662
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
10/01/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
7 MB

Meet the Author

Maurice Isserman is James L. Ferguson Professor of History, Hamilton College. He lives in Clinton, NY. Stewart Weaver is professor of history, University of Rochester. He lives in Rochester, NY. Both authors are enthusiastic hikers and mountain climbers.

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