True Summit: What Really Happened on the Legendary Ascent of Annapurna

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Simon & Schuster, 2000 - Sports & Recreation - 239 pages
The first conquest ever made of an 8,000-meter peak occurred in June 1950, when a French team reached the summit of Annapurna in the Himalaya. The achievement was a source of great pride in postwar France, and the expedition leader, Maurice Herzog, became a national hero. His account of the expedition, "Annapurna," remains to this day the best-selling mountaineering book ever.

But there is more to this story than Herzog's book reveals. "Annapurna" is one man's version of a triumph that came at a tragic cost, as Herzog lost all his fingers and toes to frostbite, his partner Louis Lachenal all his toes. The book describes a valiant effort by a unified, self-sacrificing team. The reality, however, was otherwise. The expedition was torn by dissent. The honors heaped on Herzog were not shared by the other climbers, some of whom deserved them as much as their leader. In truth, the triumph of the expedition was all the more remarkable, and the story of what really happened is far richer than "Annapurna" suggests.

In place of Maurice Herzog's idealized version of the conquest, David Roberts offers in "True Summit" the real story of the Annapurna expedition. Drawing on original manuscripts and letters, some of them unpublished, as well as books recently published in France, he gives the three superb climbers who accompanied Herzog -- Lachenal, Lionel Terray, and Gaston Rebuffat -- long overdue recognition for their achievement. At the same time, he has interviewed Herzog, the lone survivor among the climbers, and puts his account of the climb in proper perspective.

"Annapurna" fired the imaginations of millions of readers, including thousands of young climbers, the author amongthem. Roberts writes about the effect that the book had on him and other climbers he knew. He explains why it has taken nearly fifty years for the full story of this famous expedition to emerge and how the revelations will change forever the way we think about this victory in the mountains and the climbers who achieved it.

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TRUE SUMMIT: What Really Happened on the Legendary Ascent of Annapurna

User Review  - Kirkus

A former true believer discovers that Maurice Herzog's best-selling Annapurna (a stirring, romantic account of the first ascent of an 8,000-meter peak in the Himalayas) left out some of the adventure ... Read full review

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User Review  - Helcura - LibraryThing

Before setting off to attempt to climb Annapurna, the expedition members were required to sign a contract agreeing to publish nothing about the trip for five years after the expedition. This left the ... Read full review


ONE June 3
TWO Resistance
THREE Looking for Annapurna

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About the author (2000)

David Roberts is a veteran mountaineer with extensive experience in Alaska and the author of a dozen previous books. His most recent books are The Lost Explorer: Finding Mallory on Mount Everest (with Conrad Anker) and A Newer World: Kit Carson, John C. Frémont, and the Claiming of the American West. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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