Cover Image: The Hunt for Mount Everest

The Hunt for Mount Everest

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One of my dirtiest secrets is that I love to read books about white dudes doin' an explore. I mean, most of the time I prefer to read about the ones that go horribly wrong, true (see my recent review of Madhouse at the End of the Earth), but that miasma of adventure and exploration that wafts off of the Victorian and Edwardian eras will sometimes just lodge itself into my brain and stick there. One of the most enjoyable things about this dirty secret, however, is that recently, there have been a glorious spate of books about all this - let's face it - colonialism that have been told with a wink and a nod, openly calling out all the horrible shit these dudes did and allowing themselves to be each their own lesson on why it is, in fact, a bad look to march into someone else's home and ask, "But do you have a flag?" They tell the undeniably interesting stories and histories from a more aware perspective, which, in my opinion, only makes those tales of adventure all the more riveting. And kind of funny. Schadenfreude is a bitch.

This was not one of those books.

Normally, these types of books fall into two categories: the one I mentioned above, the modern, culturally-aware kind that manages to sneak in a couple of laughs; or, of course, the Good Old Boys, the stories that glorify all the pillaging the British Empire and its questionable mustaches did. The Hunt for Mount Everest was... neither. It seemed to come from a modern point of view where obviously the starchy invasion of countries where the people were just fine without your so-called civilizing influence is a bad thing. But it also seemed to come from a place of almost willful naiveté when it came to the impact that the Raj and indeed the whole idea of "exploring exotic lands" might have had on the Himalayan region. The best example I can give is that, in a section about naming (or, more accurately, ignoring the well-established Tibetan name of Chomolunga that the British definitely knew about but were just racist enough to pretend that they were doing the local people some kind of favor when they renamed) Mount Everest, Craig Storti presents first-hand sources and accounts of contemporary research into the name of the mountain, and then explains how the British were kind of just like, "Yeah, but nah," without making a single comment about this colonial pattern of behavior. No opinion, no investigation, no nothing. Just, as they say, the facts, ma'am.

You can't write a book like this... like that. What that says to me is that you're trying to avoid what you, the author, feel might be a political landmine, or might alienate some readers, or you're genuinely not well-informed enough to have an opinion about. If that's the case, then you really don't have any business, in the year of sweet lord 2021, writing a book about Mount Everest. First of all, it's been done. Second of all, if aversion to inflammatory topics is your excuse, then you're complicit, and if it's because you aren't well-informed enough on the topic, it is literally your job to ask. You're literally writing a book on the topic. 

So yeah. This definitely didn't sit right with me and when I realized I was half of the way in and it was still reading like an introduction, I came to the conclusion that the problem was more integral than the plot itself was. Two stars because the historical facts are, indeed, very thorough. It just rings more than a little hollow, man.
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This was the best, most unexpected read of the year for me. I thought I was going to read about mountaineering but found myself reading a political thriller complete with British adventurism, the Great Game, imperialism, and, of course, the emergence of mountaineering as a sport. It was funny and informative and vast in scape. Highly recommended.
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It did take me a chapter or so to get into this book, but this was because I was picking it up and putting it down a lot. It’s a book that you need to take in good time chunks I feel.

Once I sat down and focussed properly I really started to get into this, then it became unputdownable…

It’s absolutely fascinating, from what these men achieved, to the downright unbelievable “colonial Britishness attitude”. I’ve learnt a lot from this book, and also did a lot of image searches on the internet to really help me understand exactly what they faced.

Just fascinating!

My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review
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A fantastic addition to mountaineering literature. 

This book is set apart, as the author himself points out, by focussing on the years leading up to the first attempt on Chomolungma, rather than an on the first successful attempt. Storti vividly recreates the time period and the feverish excitement that was whipped up in the early years of the 20th Century as not only Geographers and explorers became interested in 'the Third Pole' but the British Imperial Government too. The author carefully sets the unfolding events against the backdrop of events that it subtly influenced, for example the Great Game and British control of India in a way that is informative but engaging for the reader and political developments are talked about in just enough detail to keep the reader's interest while not verging into a history lecture. 

My only criticisms are that it is rather Western-centric and it would have been nice to know what interactions local people in the area had with the mountain before and after the first attempts to summit Everest. I do accept that the author tries to address some of this but we were told the French were already printing about the mountain long before it's 'discovery' so I would have appreciated further explanation of this avenue, Additionally, towards the end the narrative became a little overwrought and could have done with some editing to keep pace and excitement. 

Overall I would highly recommend this not only to those interested in mountaineering but with how exploration has political implications or those with a sheer love of adventure!
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If you've read and enjoyed books on climbing Mount Everest, you'll want to read this book. This well-researched and comprehensive book tells the stories of how Mount Everest was discovered and first explored. There's quite a bit of information on major surveying projects by the British at the turn of the twentieth century as well as information on the early history of mountaineering. 

 Even after reading "Into Thin Air" and similar books on attempts to summit Mount Everest, I learned a lot about the mountain that I didn't know and that surprised me. I did not know that Mount Everest had not even been seen by Westerners until well into the twentieth century. I also did not know that mountains were once considered "deserts" and were avoided by most people. Now that mountains have become popular with tourists and adventurers, it was eye opening to learn that these are new developments in human culture.
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My thanks to NetGalley  and the publisher Nicholas Brealey US for an advanced copy of this new historical tome. 

Before anyone could climb Mount Everest they, meaning the British, first had to find it. Qomolangma or Chomolungma as the Tibetans called the mountain, had been an obsession for quite a long time, after the first estimates of its height were made. In The Hunt for Mount Everest, Craig Storti has written a very engaging history on the history of Everest quests and why so many people were driven to make this adventure. 

Mr. Storti's book covers the growth of Alpine climbing, its techniques and allure to the British and a biography on many of the major names in climbing history. The book also covers the British in India, the Great Game, an early cold war with Russia over control of the Indian subcontinent and the opening of Tibet, which I didn't know much about, and the massive amount of casualties that entailed. I learned quite a lot from this book about many diverse subjects, even before the English explorers made it finally to Everest.

The book is very interesting with clear concise explanations of many different subjects from politics, to the use Indian computers, trained mathematicians used to figure height and distance, and the mathematics branch of geometry. The cast of characters is eclectic and odd, as most British explorers tended to be. The derring-do is exciting, and the elation you feel reading about finally getting close to their great white mountain is elating. A fascinating book for armchair explorers and climbers, or for people who enjoy well written histories and love to learn new things.
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When Everest was first measured in 1850 and found to be the highest mountain in the world, the westerners became obsessed with conquering it by climbing to the top. They quickly discovered that this was not going to be straight forward for a number of reasons. First they had to convince the Nepalese and the Tibetans to let them into their countries so they could actually access the mountain that straddled these countries. Understandably due to the British obsession with conquering countries for their empires, these countries were not going to just roll over and let the British march in. Second, they had to calculate if human beings could actually survive at the altitude of Everest. Third they had to establish a route to take. Fourth they had to develop the expertise to climb the mountain as they quickly discovered that the Alps they had been used to climbing were like little hills compared to the Andes. Fifth they needed to calculate what supplies they would need for the journey and how to get those supplies up the biggest mountain in the world. These were just the practicalities. There were political implications too. In fact the story of how Mallory and Bullock even got to step foot on Everest is a long, complex and utterly fascinating one. I really enjoyed this because it was so different from all the other books on Everest. I learned so much about the history, politics and even the geography of Everest. Brilliant.
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I never thought before of all the events that led to summiting Everest. All I knew was how in 1953 two men reached the top of the world, so I was happy to read more about the history that surrounds Mount Everest from the moment people measured it to the moment they tried to climb it in 1921. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in mountaineering and history as well.
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Wow, this is quite an educational story of the discovery and desire to reach the summit of Mount Everest. My first suggestion is to either get a piece of paper or make notes on your Kindle to help keep track of the characters or timeframes. The author has performed wonderful research of all the players that are involved in this quest. The story covers many years, events, and happenings. 
My next suggestion is to not give up, the beginning starts out with a lot of calculations and numbers but this is certainly worth the read if you go for the long haul. The desire, tenacity, devotion and dedication these adventurers had is absolutely remarkable. I thoroughly enjoyed this read. Highly recommend especially if you like mountain climbing. 
I received an ARC from Nicholas Brealey US along with NetGalley for my honest review. This one comes in with 5 stars.
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An engaging and comprehensive overview of early English attempts to scout and climb Everest. Any good historical nonfiction must make history come alive, and Storti succeeds by showing both the deeds and personalities of the principal actors. The history concludes with the British 1921 expedition--I would have happily kept reading had the book covered the subsequent expeditions. Small nitpicks are that I'm not sure about calling Younghusband a "hero" or using the masculine pronoun for Jan Morris even in a historical context. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review this book.
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This is an astonishing book - combining the real-politic of the British empire with the derring-do of Francis Younghusband and the path to opening up the access to Everest through Tibet.
Cruelty, bravery, endurance; climate and conditions which lie at the brink of possibility. And dreams and aspirations which reveal the utopian spirit of the human journey.
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Thanks to Netgalley for an advance copy,
While I wouldn't say I'm a hard-core Everest aficianado I have always been interested in stories about the mountain and the people who climb it. It probably begain with "Into Thin Air" and grew from that. I think it's fair to say that most of what I know is recent history.
The author said he wanted to write "The book that ended where all the other Everest books began." That may seem like it wouldn't be particulary interesting as it's effectively a long prolog, but that is not the case. From the very start with a daring move by Francis Younghusband in Tibet I was hooked. The story is a mix of mountaineering, politics and war with lots of larger than life personalities mixed in. Even though you know it will end before the ultimate climax it is fascinating to see how we got there.
If you are interested in the story of the conquest of Everest I would suggest this is a must read. Then follow with one of the accounts of Mallory and Ivine's failed attempt and then the original "The Conquest of Everest". That's my plan. off I go to do some more reading.
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This book is the story of finding Mount Everest. The finding which ultimately led to the conquest.

The book starts by providing the reader a background in the colonial times of East India Company and how the Great Game was instrumental in the hunt for mount everest. The British exerciseof creating maps of India had a crucial role to play in this hunt. This hunt for mount Everest actually started when some British surveyors at Darjeeling trained their theodolites towards Tibbet and they noticed this tall mountain. 
Because of its geo location Mount Everest was practically inaccessible to not only the western world but also to the British India. This inaccessibility also could not stope few individuals from attempting to conquer it. 

There are many books out there which have covered the various historical events meantioned in the book, however, there are few books which have stiched these events together and presented as a single integrated event. 

Thanks NetGalley and the Publisher for providing an advanced review copy of this book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.
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Appearing a hundred years after two British men became the first Westerners to set foot on Mount Everest, Craig Storti’s The Hunt for Mount Everest offers a rich and colorful history of earlier attempts to understand, assess and reach the fabled pinnacle. The characters and episodes he chronicles are dramatic enough to fill several novels, while his professional background in intercultural communication helps ground his depictions in a nuanced understanding of the always complex and sometimes destructive ways in which Western ambitions intersected with non-Western lands and cultures. A wonderfully rich, dramatic, and thought-provoking read.
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A very thorough look at Mt. Everest and the treks up to the peak. Worth reading if you enjoyed Into Thin Air.
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I am not a Mountineer & neither have I climbed anything much for a huge number of years , last thing being Great Gable in the Lake District with my husband & children. But I have always admired those who have a passion no mater how crazy it may seem to the rest of us.
I have learnt so new Historical & Geographical facts while reading this Book.
I did find the start rather long winded & drawn out , but soon became enthralled in it. "It would be necessary in the first place to find the Mountain"" George Mallory !
In fact the Mountain already existed but was known on either side of the 1,000 mile Himalayan range by other names. , the first Westener's to encounter these majestic & magnificent Mountain Boarders were the Soldiers of Alexander the Great in 326BC. These Peaks but especially Everest tower above the Earth looking down on Mankind to show just how tiny & insignificant we truly are in Mother Nature's Eyes ,to her we are like tiny Ants trying to scale the tallest Cathedral, 
I was shocked & horrified by some of Western man's predacious, domineering of the native Asian peoples, they seemed to believe it was their  `GOD' given right to domineer,& also the horrific atrocities carried out by all parties during these years of Empire !
Also it proves that mankind still hasn't learned her lessons , maybe that's why men ( plus women now ) may climb Mountains & reach the Summit but they can never truly conquer them ,as the Mountain always has some surprise in store , which is why sadly since 1927 so many have lost their lives in their attempts to do just that.
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What an excellent read! So well-written! I could not put this down. This was a fascinating insight into the evolution of the myth of Everest, into its entry into popular consciousness, and the history of the first westerners on the mountain. I enjoyed very much the details about the mountaineers themselves, as well as the political events that led up to the first exploration (by westerners). I spent a lot of time after I put the book down trying to find out more about what happened to these larger-than-life humans after 1921 (Mallory 🥺💔), and about the mountain that has so captured our imagination. I mean, I want to summit Everest too, just as soon as there's a cable car or teleportation to the top ♡

Highly recommend!
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A fascinating book, exploring the history surrounding British attempts to locate and conquer the world's highest mountain. For many years, Everest was undiscovered and inaccessible, mainly due to the known access being via Tibet, a country that was reluctant to allow entry to the British.

The stubbornness and determination of a number of individuals finally led to permission being granted for an expedition in 1921, among the members of which was George Mallory who disappeared near the summit three years later. Mallory was a natural climber, a charismatic and driven man - he and Guy Bullock were possibly the first Westerners to set foot on the mountain. Although the route to the summit was initially missed due to a misunderstanding of local geology, this was later corrected by another member of the party, but the harsh winds on the upper slopes prevented an attempt on the summit at that time.

The mountain was finally conquered in 1953, news of the feat reaching London on the eve of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.

Craig Storti lays out in great detail the diplomacy - sometimes chaotic, but never dull - that led to the 1921 expedition, and the characters who came together to make the first foray into the Himalayas that revealed the majestic splendour of Everest, recalled in evocative prose by Mallory. Tibet emerges as a country full of natural wonders, but also difficult weather conditions that proved almost as much of a challenge as the mountains.

There were names here I had never heard of but became fascinated by, not least Alexander Kellas, a Scottish chemist and ardent mountaineer, who sadly died on the 1921 expedition.

There weren't any photographs to enhance the visual aspect, but these may have been left out of the ARC. The maps at the beginning were useful and I liked the use of quotations before each of the chapters.

I was sent an advance review copy of this book by Nicholas Brealey US, in return for an honest appraisal.
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I loved reading this book, though I could not speed through it like I would normally. Often, I found myself pausing and thinking about these mountaineering men, the feats they achieved, the way the Raj, India, the British, the locals worked on a daily basis and how things that happened even as long as a century ago added little by little to the bagging of Everest.

I loved Craig Storti's dry wit and wisdom in presenting the hunt and the hunters for Everest, and all the underlying political and geographical intricacies with Nepal and Tibet and its rulers. Storti did a marvellous research and was able to weave a lot of his findings into the story - without making it quotation-heavy or broken. Still, having the participants speak for themselves allowed us, readers, a wonderful insight into the minds of these extraordinary (or, sometimes, extraordinarily petty) people.

An absolutely enjoyable account.
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I've read many books on expeditions to Everest but none on the discovery or the early explorers and their quest to conquer it.  The author excellently outlines the difficulties these men underwent to discover various routes as well as dealing with the Tibetan authorities.  First part focuses on the discovery of the peak and then leads on to the planning of the first expedition. A fantastic read and definitely to be recommended to anyone who loves alpine climbing.
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