On the morning of 2 June 1953, the day of Queen Elizabeth's coronation, the first news ebbed through to the British public of a magnificent achievement: Everest had finally been conquered.
Drawing on first-hand interviews and unprecedented access to archives, this is a groundbreaking new account of that extraordinary first ascent. In a thrilling tale of adventure and courage, Mick Conefrey reveals that what has gone down in history as a supremely well-planned attempt was actually beset by crisis and controversy, both on and off the mountain.
From funding panics to Sherpa rebellions, hostile press to menacing weather, John Hunt and his team had to draw on unimaginable skill and determination, as well as sheer British ingenuity, to succeed. An intimate insight into the forgotten personalities behind the ascent including Eric Shipton, the enigmatic Mr Everest, and Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans, who came within 100 metres of being first to the summit. Everest 1953 recounts a bygone age of self-sacrifice and heroism, using letters and personal diaries to reveal the immense stress and heartache the climbers often hid from their fellow team members.
"Groundbreaking... a magnificent book that deserves to become the definitive version. We cannot hope for a more human, funny or meticulous account of what was a very British expedition" (Independent)
"An exciting, moving account... a fascinating piece of documentary writing, as readable and poignant as Into Thin Air or Touching the Void." (Spectator)
"Conefrey describes this frenetic scramble for ownership of the mountain brilliantly... I often found myself deeply moved." (Observer)
"Mick Conefrey painstakingly studied the vast volume of detail surrounding the British expedition and can claim to have filled in some significant blanks on the map." (The Times)
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I've read many too
I've read many mountaineering stories and can remember vividly reading Edmund Hillary's account of the assault on Everest; it literally gave me the chills and made my palms sweat.
I really wanted to like this book and was hoping for a similar thrill. Sadly, the book doesn't include much description of the climb (about 45 minutes 3/4 of the way through the book). I could almost never "see" the action from the description and overall the book left me wanting.
I would recommend Hillary's "High Adventure: The True Story of the First Ascent of Everest" (not on audiobook). On audiobook I'd strongly recommend "Into the Silence" by Wade Davis which gives an excellent historical account of Mallory's attempt at climbing the mountain or for a later description of climbing Everest, two modern-day thrillers like Anatoli Boukreev's "The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest", or Krakauer's "Into Thin Air". On the whole Conefrey left me wanting much more than he delivered.
Finally, the narrator did a credible job of portraying quoted passages of the characters in the book (English, French, New Zealander, and Asian) although there really wasn't a great deal of that in the book.
Stuffy British account of meetings and memos
Nothing - it's not the narrator, it's the material.
If you enjoy detailed accounts of memos, stuffy British gentleman's clubs, meetings, and committees, then this book is for you. But if you want a story about Everest, it is not. It is all the bureaucratic stuff that happened before the ascent. Dull dull dull.