Reaching the Summit: Edmund Hillary's Life of Adventure

Alexa Johnston, Author . DK $30 (232p) ISBN 978-0-7566-1527-7

Explorer and philanthropist Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb Mt. Everest more than 50 years ago, gets the royal treatment in an illustrated, coffee-table–size biography that is lavish, well designed and beautifully printed, even by DK's high standards. From early 20th-century family photos through previously unpublished diary pages from Hillary's Everest expedition to his groundbreaking work building a hospital and schools for the Himalayan Sherpa community, the range of Hillary's life and work is presented in almost obsessive detail, and many of the photos from his climbs are breathtaking. "Official biographer" Johnston was guest curator of an exhibition in 2002 on Hillary at the Auckland War Memorial Museum; this book is a direct product. And while Hillary's many adventures have been recounted in many other memorable books—including his own autobiography—Johnston's text is thorough, although her style is often bland (e.g., "Hillary's early years in this small country town were happy"). However, sidebars profiling the various people who were intimately involved with Hillary's work—especially a long section highlighting the many accomplishments of the first Sherpa students to attend the school built by Hillary in the 1960s—impressively show Hillary's continuing human impact. (Nov. 14)

Reviewed on: 10/10/2005
Release date: 10/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
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