Monday, March 10, 2014

Man Versus Mountain: Mount Everest, by Bonnie Hinman

Bonnie Hinman provides an updated introduction for young readers to the world's highest mountain in Man Versus Mountain: Mount Everest. She focuses on the climbing of the mountain and its history, with some additional information on the surrounding natural, political, and cultural geography, as well as a section on Himalayan legends. Hillary and Tenzing take center stage in the book, followed by Mallory and the early attempts. There is (comparatively) quite a bit about modern climbing of Everest and its troubles, covering the 1996, 2006, and 2012 climbing seasons. Hinman keeps the information interesting while writing intelligently and pretty accurately. I appreciated her notations, as well as the long list of resources at the back. Photographs were my only hang-up, as Ama Dablam (page 5) and K2 (page 40) stand in for Everest. The format is pleasing, however, with chapters on focused topics, concluded by asides on related information.

I feel I must apologize once again for my vitriol in defending false information. George Everest did sight (or at least recorded his sighting) the peak that bears his name, even if he did not recognize it at the time as the world's highest mountain. I worry that my declarations to the opposite might have had something to do with page 15's: "Some historians think Everest may never have seen in person the mountain that was named after him." So many of the things I tend to whine about regarding Everest's juvenile literature are right on in Hinman's book, such as her explanation of the thin air at the summit, that I worry that I might have violated some sort of Prime Directive for the observation of literature. C'est la vie!

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