An Eye at the Top of the World: The Terrifying Legacy of the Cold War's Most Daring C.I.A. Operation

Pete Takeda, Author Basic Books $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-56025-845-2
In 1965, a CIA-recruited team of elite American and Indian mountaineers planted a sensor atop a Himalayan peak in India to eavesdrop on nuclear bomb and missile tests in western China, then unreachable by spy planes and satellites. But one sensor-powered by highly poisonous, radioactive plutonium-disappeared in an avalanche and remains lost to this day. Compelled by the mix of Cold War intrigue and his climbing jones, veteran mountaineer and writer Takeda (Climb!) organized a 2005 expedition to retrace that mission's steps. In this audacious account, Takeda describes the miseries of his team's grueling, near-fatal trek. An avalanche covered their camp, forcing them to dig for their lives. They retreated, then turned back again from a second summit when a storm intervened. After returning to the U.S., several members of the team underwent treatment for post-traumatic stress. Except for reviving the story, Taneka's book adds little to the history of the CIA operation, but it contains a good deal of lively, often hair-raising writing. Some armchair adventure travelers may roll their eyes at the positively masochistic suffering the expedition endured as it struggled up icy and increasingly dangerous slopes through deteriorating weather, but aficionados of the disastrous climbing trek genre will have few complaints.
Reviewed on: 10/01/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 332 pages - 978-1-56858-358-7
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-7867-3287-6
Show other formats
Discover what to read next