Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hillary and Tenzing Climb Everest, by Bob Davidson

Bob Davidson writes a children's history of climbing the world's highest mountain in Hillary and Tenzing Climb Everest. I was a bit nervous to open the book and read it after seeing that the image of Mount Everest on the cover had been flipped backward, but I was pleasantly surprised by the contents. Davidson gets the facts straight while writing about the many attempts that led to the 1953 ascent of the mountain, the success in 1953, as well as other significant climbs. He gives about equal space to the pre-history of Everest's ascent and the 1953 expedition, and saves a couple spreads at the end for subsequent climbers, including Bonington, Tabei, Rutkeiwicz, Messner, Cesan, and others. There are photographic illustrations throughout the book, as well as a couple maps, all of them for the most part effective (though the reversed cover photo makes another appearance).

This book makes a handy library book on Everest. It's one of the few children's books on Mount Everest that gets the facts straight, and it is relatively comprehensive. This is a short book, however, and Davidson gives only basic facts about each of the early trips to Everest. I noticed that the 1938 climb is missing. (I'll forgive him since he includes the 1935 reconnaissance.) I felt that he occasionally talks over his audience's head, but since he doesn't oversimplify in his summaries, I was happy with the prose. He gives Tomo Cesan the benefit of the doubt on his controversial climb of Lhotse's South Face. I appreciated his including both Cesan and Wanda Rutkeiwicz, as Eastern Europe often gets short shrift in Everest histories. A well-written book for young readers!

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