Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Climbing Everest, by Audrey Salkeld

Audrey Salkeld writes a first-rate book for young readers in Climbing Everest. The narrative is intelligent and basic, but not oversimplified or boring. The photographs are interesting and well-taken. Instead of a general history, Salkeld focuses on important climbs---those of George Mallory, Tenzing Norgay, the 1960 Chinese expedition, Reinhold Messner's two climbs, the American Kangshung Face expeditions, and the 1996 tragedy. Alternated between these chapters are page-long sections on other topics of interest, including Everest's geography, female climbers, and Sherpas. Both the George Mallory and Tenzing Norgay sections are well-done and fairly up-to-date. I am very happy with her text on the Chinese expedition, as it is one of the most thorough resources (including adult literature) on the climb available in book format. (Messner's The Second Death of George Mallory might have been a decent resource if he hadn't decided the climbers did not make the summit.) Similarly, her information on the American Kangshung Face expeditions is a useful resource, as their full details are scattered across a number of books, including Jenkin's Across China, Breashears' High Exposure, Roskelley's Stories Off the Wall, and Edmund and Peter Hillary's Ascent. Salkeld's discussion of the 1996 tragedy is age-appropriate, yet gets into some of the more difficult details, such as Hall's long day on the South Summit and the dire condition of Beck Weathers. 

 Salkeld has contributed profusely to the literature of Everest, and is the author of numerous books, including a young readers' biography of George Mallory, Mystery on Everest, and a bibliography of Everest literature, Climbing Mount Everest. She has co-authored two books on George Mallory, Last Climb, along with David Breashears, and First on Everest, with Tom Holzel (updated as The Mystery of Mallory and Irvine).

This post is a revision and expansion of an earlier entry, which can be found here.

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