Tuesday, October 20, 2015

NEVEREST Book Review: Demystifying Everest, One Step at a Time - By Lisa Wilson

You don’t have to be a mountain climber to know or appreciate the story of Everest.  There have been countless books and movies released over the years about the tragedy of 1996. Yet, to this day, there’s not one set of facts that everybody can agree on.  So why do we need another book, and why is Nick van der Leek qualified to tell this story?

I’ve been writing about true crime with Nick for over a year and one thing we’ve come to know with absolute certainty is there’s always an underlying pattern of human behavior, regardless of the story.  Paying attention to that behavior, one can find a bounty of answers at the end of the sometimes grisly yellow brick road.  Everest, although not true crime, is certainly no different in that respect.  So, how exactly does one go about making sense of the numerous conflicting stories?

Nick’s clever solution to this dilemma is to turn the mountain into a crime scene; get to know the climbers and interrogate their accounts and motivations.   Then there’s the physical scene.  Can the mountain itself prove or disprove some of the claims?  

Also, not to be over-looked, is Nick’s own expedition climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.   Pieces of his equally entertaining and relevant personal story are weaved into the core of this narrative reinforcing his credibility.  The reader will likely appreciate having an experienced tri-athlete at the helm of this investigation.

The interrogation into Everest, much like climbing a mountain, is done in a series of steps.  We start at base camp and methodically move towards the imposing summit.  Each step begins with an anecdote providing the reader with some context and shall we say, ambiance, for the chapters ahead. 

The anecdotes themselves are rich with unexpected information.   I found myself engaged for hours clicking through the multiple links embedded in the book.   I was grateful to learn the back-stories of many of those involved to give perspective to their decisions made on that fateful day.

This isn’t a one-sided story that identifies heroes and villains nor is it a story about tip-toeing around the unflattering truth.  Nick wasn’t on the mountain on May 10, 1996, unlike Jon Krakauer, Anatoli Boukreev or Lou Kasischke, among others, who were there that day and published their memoirs.  This is an objective take on a complicated story, and although Nick is not bashful about sharing his own opinions, it’s clear his intention is for the reader to form their own education opinion.

NEVEREST isn’t just another book about what went wrong on the mountain.  It’s a narrative that will enrich you with the gifts of history and humanity.   What makes the narrative so special and gripping is its ability to put the reader on the face of the mountain, in the middle of the storm.  We can vividly imagine ourselves as Hall or Fischer, and the reality of their circumstances will no doubt leave you numb. 

We’d all like to believe in the midst of a crisis we’d help others in their desperate time of need.  But, what do we do when our own lives are also at stake?  Would we give up our lives to save another, possibly a stranger?  Who would we have helped that day on that mountain?  And in the end, would we be strong enough to tell the truth?  These are some of the unavoidable and painful questions you’ll be faced with when you read NEVEREST.  There’s no better way to grasp the enormity of this story then to do it from this harrowing 360˚ view.

NEVEREST is available at Amazon.com at this link 

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