Degrees of Difficulty

Vladimir Shataev, Author, Vladimir Shatayev, Author, Deborah Piranian, Translator Mountaineers Books $10.95 (195p) ISBN 978-0-89886-013-9
This book by a top Soviet mountaineer will be most enjoyed by those who already appreciate the heights. Die-hard climbers will find rationalization for their calling, while others will discover ample proof for considering mountaineering an insane pastimeparticularly after reading Shataev's account of his wife's death along with other members of her all-woman climbing team. Although the author admires his wife's achievements, he and fellow climbers question whether women belong in the mountainsa patronizing attitude that will win few points with female readers. The text makes for dense reading: the spotty narrative, abrupt time shifts and herky-jerky conversation can be confusing. (A glossary of technical terms would benefit laypeople.) However, the author does provide an informative glimpse of the Soviet approach to mountaineeringthe sport is governed by a bureaucracy, of coursewith extensive ratings of climbers and peaks. Shataev also makes an impassioned case for what he calls the ""moral fraternity'' of climbers. (August)
Reviewed on: 08/04/1987
Release date: 08/01/1987
Genre: Nonfiction
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