Continental Divide: A History of American Mountaineering

Continental Divide: A History of American Mountaineering

by Maurice Isserman


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This magesterial and thrilling history argues that the story of American mountaineering is the story of America itself.In Continental Divide, Maurice Isserman tells the history of American mountaineering through four centuries of landmark climbs and first ascents. Mountains were originally seen as obstacles to civilization; over time they came to be viewed as places of redemption and renewal. The White Mountains stirred the transcendentalists; the Rockies and Sierras pulled explorers westward toward Manifest Destiny; Yosemite inspired the early environmental conservationists.Climbing began in North America as a pursuit for lone eccentrics but grew to become a mass-participation sport. Beginning with Darby Field in 1642, the first person to climb a mountain in North America, Isserman describes the exploration and first ascents of the major American mountain ranges, from the Appalachians to Alaska. He also profiles the most important American mountaineers, including such figures as John C. Frémont, John Muir, Annie Peck, Bradford Washburn, Charlie Houston, and Bob Bates, relating their exploits both at home and abroad.Isserman traces the evolving social, cultural, and political roles mountains played in shaping the country. He describes how American mountaineers forged a "brotherhood of the rope," modeled on America’s unique democratic self-image that characterized climbing in the years leading up to and immediately following World War II. And he underscores the impact of the postwar "rucksack revolution," including the advances in technique and style made by pioneering "dirtbag" rock climbers.A magnificent, deeply researched history, Continental Divide tells a story of adventure and aspiration in the high peaks that makes a vivid case for the importance of mountains to American national identity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393068504
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 04/25/2016
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 1,344,705
Product dimensions: 9.40(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Maurice Isserman is the author of Continental Divideandcoauthor ofFallen Giants, a history of Himalayan mountaineering that won the Banff Prize for best mountaineering history, as well as the National Outdoor Book Award. He is a professor of history at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments 1

Chapter 1 Pioneers, 1642-1842 5

Chapter 2 Hardy Mountain Plants, 1842-1865 56

Chapter 3 Good Tidings, Strenuous Life, 1865-1903 100

Chapter 4 Brotherhood of the Rope, 1900-1946: Part I 161

Chapter 5 Brotherhood of the Rope, 1900-1946: Part II 219

Chapter 6 Rucksack Revolution, 1945-1963 269

Epilogue 1964-2015 339

Notes 345

Selected Bibliography 411

Illustration Credits 419

Index 421

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Continental Divide: A History of American Mountaineering 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Literally - the history of mountaineering! Excellent reference on the people that brought the 'sport' to America. It is more than just the stories of overcoming mountains to get to the top. If you are looking for just that, this isn't for you. It's more about the people who created the idea of mountaineering. Impeccably researched and a good, fast, enjoyable read.