Rating: 3 out of 5
I found parts of this book perplexing — they did not belong. At the same time, other sections were absolutely stunning and going through them was a wonderful experience. However, as a short overview I think the author was a bit confused in focussing this book: the Great War gets far too much of the emphasis while the author jumps in and out of the Himalayas.
As such, long sections felt entirely unnecessary. Sure, they went to highlight the background of the climbers, but that could have done in a lot more efficient way, especially given how much consideration this got by the end of the story (not very much) though the author managed to implement some very effective phrases there. At the same time, some bits of information were repeated for no good purpose, and overall this could perhaps be summed up as the author lacking direction.
I should also note that while the author is particularly vehement towards General Haig, it is not uniformly agreed that Haig was as out of depth as he is made to look here.
Now, there also existed some very strong parts to this! These were in the main the descriptions of the 1921, 1922, and 1924 expeditions. The immaculate detail and scope of the explorations was considered in a truly comprehensive manner. Though the author seemed to like some characters more than others, Mr Davis’ research seems to always support itself by letters from the people themselves. And, of course, Mallory and Irvine’s final climb and speculation on what happened and how it happened was done rather well with the author also going out of his way to dispel some more fanciful of the theories.
Overall, I think it is a good book though perhaps serves one master too many. I would recommend it but also note that this is both a history of mountaineering and a history of the Great War.