Annapurna, The first conquest of an 8000-meter peak - by Maurice Herzog
Recently, I ordered a book from Flipkart "Annapurna, The first conquest of an 8000-meter peak". It was first written in French by Maurice Herzog, and then later it was translated into English.
Maurice Herzog, was a French mountaineer who became the first man to climb an 8000-meter mountain, Annapurna, which is the 10th highest mountain in the world.
I ordered the book on the same day that Maurice Herzog had died.
This is my first attempt at writing a book-review and I hope I don't give away the book and maintain the opacity, as far as the series of events, is concerned and just stick to the review.
We all know that they reached the summit. But how is what the book talks about. I mean that is obvious.
It is a very well written book and an in-depth account of how, in 1950, Maurice Herzog led the expedition and reached the top of Annapurna, with Louis Lachenal.
The book describes very nicely in detail about all the preparations that the team had to make before starting off on this long journey. The book slowly but steadily starts its own journey, as the mountaineers start theirs. It gains pace just as the mountaineers gain theirs.
There were a lot of hard decisions that the team and Maurice, as a leader, back in those early days of mountaineering, had to make throughout the trip. There is enough reasoning behind every decision and those reasonings as to why certain decisions had to be made, have been well stated.
How well integrated the team was, is a lesson to learn in itself and that has been described beautifully. There is something one can take from this experience.
What led them to the summit was their perseverance and determination. But how they had to push for the summit, in time, before the monsoons hit them hard, is also stated well.
The description of the turn of events and of the intense suffering that Maurice and Louis had to go through after they had bagged the summit, according to me, is grotesque and even heart-breaking at one point. The emotions of having found close friends and the personal losses, have been captured very well.
In hindsight, after I had finished read the book, I felt that Maurice, as a writer, did not do a good job of expressing what he felt throughout, before the summit was bagged. It was only a straight faced account of the events, of what had happened. But after the summit was bagged, there is an out-pour of emotions.
(This is a review of a translated book, so am not sure if it was the translator, or Maurice himself, in the original french version, who was not able to capture these emotions throughout the book before the summit was bagged)
A very good book I would say and a must read for all mountaineers.
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