Continental Divide: A History of American Mountaineering

Maurice Isserman. Norton, $27.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-393-06850-4
In this book “about American history, as seen through the prism of mountaineering,” Isserman starts with the Pilgrims in 1642; he then climbs his way through the years to 1963, which he calls “perhaps, the greatest year in the history of American climbing,” because of the groundbreaking routes being ascended in Yosemite and James Whittaker becoming the first American to summit Everest. There are tales of explorers such as Lewis and Clark; mountain men such as John Colter and Jedediah Smith; renowned nature-lovers Emerson, Thoreau, and Muir; and climbers Yvon Chouinard and Royal Robbins. Isserman brings these diverse stories together in a cohesive narrative with a strong combination of in-depth research and welcoming prose that even a climbing novice can understand. Though Isserman glosses over issues of the last 50 years (competitive climbing, sponsorships, ethics, the sport’s fragmentation), his passionate scholarship turns this specialized sporting history into an easily accessible account of the exploration, subjugation, conservation, and appreciation of the great peaks of the U.S. and the world. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/15/2016
Release date: 04/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 416 pages - 978-0-393-29252-7
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-393-35376-1
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