Saturday, March 19, 2011

Life on an Everest Expedition, by Patricia Netzley

If you're a young reader and want to learn all about what it's like to climb the world's highest mountain, try reading Life on an Everest Expedition, by Patricia Netzley. She writes it textbook-style, both in prose and formatting, and includes a wealth of quotes from Everest climbers. She fills the book with information and includes many details that others gloss over. Also, Life on an Everest Expedition is part of "The Way People Live" series, so part of its purpose is to dispel myths and stereotypes about the subjects. As such, Netzley includes a lot of words like "generally," "most," and "sometimes," avoiding a lot of the half-truths found in other books for young readers.  She writes about a range of expeditions from the early trials to the modern commercial expeditions. She focuses most of her attention on the commercial expedition life, however, since this is the most likely way someone will experience Everest currently.

A couple small things bothered me about this book. For a book from a series geared towards dispelling stereotypes, there are still a couple more in the text than I would have liked, most notably about the Sherpas, but also about climbers' motivations. A couple of the photographs bothered me, but shouldn't detract from the overall book, because they had been flipped, and the summit ridge had cornices hanging off the wrong direction (or in one, Lhotse is on the wrong side of the ridge line). There was also an amusing statistic about 400,000 people visiting Everest Base Camp in 1996.

All that said, however, this is a good book. Netzley has done her homework, and she cites a number of sources. What's more, it seems like she actually read them! Though to some degree this book is Everest as viewed through books, it's the only Everest I know, and it all was quite familiar and enjoyable to me. I always appreciate a fellow reader, and I appreciate even more a careful writer. Life on an Everest Expedition rates highly with me.

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