On the morning of 2 June 1953, the day of Queen Elizabeth's coronation, the first news ebbed through to the British public of a magnificent achievement: Everest had finally been conquered.
Drawing on first-hand interviews and unprecedented access to archives, this is a groundbreaking new account of that extraordinary first ascent. In a thrilling tale of adventure and courage, Mick Conefrey reveals that what has gone down in history as a supremely well-planned attempt was actually beset by crisis and controversy, both on and off the mountain.
From funding panics to Sherpa rebellions, hostile press to menacing weather, John Hunt and his team had to draw on unimaginable skill and determination, as well as sheer British ingenuity, to succeed. An intimate insight into the forgotten personalities behind the ascent including Eric Shipton, the enigmatic Mr Everest, and Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans, who came within 100 metres of being first to the summit. Everest 1953 recounts a bygone age of self-sacrifice and heroism, using letters and personal diaries to reveal the immense stress and heartache the climbers often hid from their fellow team members.
©2012 Mick Conefrey (P)2013 Audible Ltd
"Groundbreaking... a magnificent book that deserves to become the definitive version. We cannot hope for a more human, funny or meticulous account of what was a very British expedition" (Independent)
"An exciting, moving account... a fascinating piece of documentary writing, as readable and poignant as Into Thin Air or Touching the Void." (Spectator)
"Conefrey describes this frenetic scramble for ownership of the mountain brilliantly... I often found myself deeply moved." (Observer)
"Mick Conefrey painstakingly studied the vast volume of detail surrounding the British expedition and can claim to have filled in some significant blanks on the map." (The Times)
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"I've read many too"
I've read many mountaineering stories and can remember vividly reading Edmund Hillary's account of the assault on Everest; it literally gave me the chills and made my palms sweat.
I really wanted to like this book and was hoping for a similar thrill. Sadly, the book doesn't include much description of the climb (about 45 minutes 3/4 of the way through the book). I could almost never "see" the action from the description and overall the book left me wanting.
I would recommend Hillary's "High Adventure: The True Story of the First Ascent of Everest" (not on audiobook). On audiobook I'd strongly recommend "Into the Silence" by Wade Davis which gives an excellent historical account of Mallory's attempt at climbing the mountain or for a later description of climbing Everest, two modern-day thrillers like Anatoli Boukreev's "The Climb: Tragic Ambitions on Everest", or Krakauer's "Into Thin Air". On the whole Conefrey left me wanting much more than he delivered.
Finally, the narrator did a credible job of portraying quoted passages of the characters in the book (English, French, New Zealander, and Asian) although there really wasn't a great deal of that in the book.
"Stuffy British account of meetings and memos"
Nothing - it's not the narrator, it's the material.
If you enjoy detailed accounts of memos, stuffy British gentleman's clubs, meetings, and committees, then this book is for you. But if you want a story about Everest, it is not. It is all the bureaucratic stuff that happened before the ascent. Dull dull dull.
"When men were men"
It's hard to forget that only 60 years ago there were places on earth that were not explored by man. Today you can see everywhere with google earth. You can see all the approaches to the mountain in 3D.
I read Into Thin Air about an ascent in the 1980s and it was shocking how things have changed. No gps receivers, high tech fabrics, etc. Now that Everest is climbed by teenagers it's great to read a story where the likely outcome was death. The same could be said about Lindbergh and first flight across Atlantic.
I wish there was some unexplored place on earth that I could conquer. There will never be one for my generation. This was the last one.
"A Fantastic look into 20th century mountaineering!"
I love to hear about the supporting characters that make history happen. Tensing was a larger than life individual. What a great report on an epic event, to think we reached the top of Everest in 1953 and the moon 16 years later!
"Everest, 1953 is spectacular"
A thorough exploration of the feat to reach Mt. Everest's summit. This book beautifully weaves into its narrative the political implications, the nationalistic squabbles, and the achievements of the human spirit to explore the far reaches of the planet. The book illustrates clearly that such a task as accomplished in 1953 is not the product of those who set foot on Everest's summit, but a long line of support of Sherpas, porters, adventurers, governments, and even obliging families. A triumph.
"My favourite everest audiobook"
I can say that this is my favourite everest book..I always wanted to know everything about everest..the history,the mountain,the conquest,the failures...the book has everything although it seems a long audiobook but i have listened it twice...once it gets going the book becomes impossible to turn it off...the book very beautifully captures the historical part of everest with the background of Raj period of britishers in india...it is a sort of amalgmation of mountain climbing and british raj
It was very good
"Brings back the sense of adventure"
Having regarded Everest as a destination for big-spending extreme sport tourism, I have always been bored and unimpressed whenever it got press coverage, and as such it was a bit hesitantly I decided on this book. The book, however, is an inspiring and exciting story of that first ascent, and I highly recommend it to nearly anyone.
Excellent narration, though the voice-acted reading of quotes was not really my cup of tea.
"A very good read"
This book is very interseting, and covers the real story in complete details. Mostly it's interesting. but there are some very long part of politics, preparations and so on that are too long, and make the story a bit dry.
All in all, it is very inspiring!
"Best book I've read about Everest"
This is a thoughtful, well-documented, and well-narrated book. I enjoyed this book thoroughly and learned a lot, which is really saying something considering that I tend to devour books and documentaries about the Himalayas.
It was particularly interesting learning more about the politics of those who advocated for the trip and also the politics internal to the trip - conflicts between climbers, etc.
This is a silly question for this book.
It was said to learn that Tenzing Norgay did not feel particularly happy with the team even after he summited Everest and that he seemed to have been excluded, intentionally or not, from much of the upside that came after the climb.
Wonderfully written, well researched book with a great reader.
"More than an arm chair adventureer book"
I am an arm chair adventureer but this book sheds a lot of light on the history of the post WWII world. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Very well researched.
"Man! That story is epic!"
This book can be divided into three parts. First is the history of discovery and attempts to summit the Everest. I found it fascinating how late Europeans actually got anywhere near the mountain, not to mention the summit.
Second part is about the British attempts. There are moments when you think that, surely, author is joking, creating caricatures of men in power, grandiose characters with outdated racial, national and cultural attitudes. But than you realise, that it really was like that. And you just love it.
Third part is about 1953 attempt itself. It's a story of experience, preparation, racial and cultural tensions and the hell a lot of good luck.
If I wasn't obliged to go to work I would have listened it to it non-stop it was so good.
engaging, interesting, frightening
it's an adventure book, which really held my interest, despite my knowing the outcome. it included loads of details which didn't hinder the telling of the story at all. i also found myself becoming really involved with the story and wondering how the mountaineers held their nerve.
he kept my interest - he included a few varied accents, etc., but generally played a straightforward game. really good.
(like the book): epic
A truly excellent look at the 53 Everest expedition with some of the best narration I have heard.
Pacy, historical, authentic and well written.
Fantastic lines such as "Tenzing Norgay stood atop the summit and gazed upon the topography of his life - Khumbu, Darjeeling and the plains..."
A wonderfully thorough and well written account of a landmark in human achievement.
The writing brings the whole expedition and its many personalities to life. I was sorry to reach the end. Highly recommended.
"Thorough telling of the '53 ascent and since"
Obviously any book about the 1953 accent to the peak of Everest is read knowing it was successful.
The author sets the scene well, covers in detail the preparations for the ascent (previous expeditions and the '52 training) and the eventual success. He also makes to create a sense of time and place - the motivations of the team, the political environment, the privations, mistakes and upsets along the way. This gives the listener a better appreciation for the experiences of the team and done of the post decent turmoil.
I found it very interesting, well narrated and edited and didn't feel like I was listening to 11 hours.
"Once you've reached the top the only way is down!"
Yes - I've already done so. It is an excellent account for a famous event. It gives a lot of insight into the before and after reaching the top. I had no idea about how poor the equipment was and how Hunt, Hillary and Tenzing had suffered personally after the euphoria very quickly died down.
Tenzing Norgay. He demonstrates that non-Europeans can also be global heroes.
Even if you aren't interested in mountain climbing (I've not got a head for heights!) this book is sill worth listening to. It is an amazing story which many people know the event but maybe not the details of overcoming odds, poor equipment and prejudices. It is well written - even though we know they made it to the top the author still keeps the suspense going. I found what happened afterwards fascinating and also very sad - particularly Tenzing who had once been tea-total but died an alcoholic possibly because of the strains of fame and the behaviour of politicians.
Top performance by Mick Conefry reading this 1950's boys own adventure. Of course, we all know the basics of this story, or think we do, but this book adds meat to the gristle and there was so much new to me to make it a very worthwhile listen. At times I found myself holding my breath as the climbers progressed higher and higher. Wonderful stuff!
This is a facinating history of the first ascent of Everest. It gives the build up to the exbitition, including details of the previous year's exbiditions, and also the fall out of the sucessful ascent. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it. It is well written and is an easy listen, not just a dry history book.
"Not bad at all. I enjoyed this."
it's not my typical thing. but it was on a daily deal and only £1.50 so I thought if try it. glad I did. it kept me entertained for a while, and I felt I learned some history too.
A very good book very informative all in all worth a listen and if one is interested in the history of climbing a good reference.
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