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Mallory, Irvine and Everest (Hardback)

The Last Step But One

P&S History > British History P&S History > By Century > 20th Century P&S History > Explorers & Adventurers > Mount Everest P&S History > Humanities > Biography & Memoirs P&S History > Social History

By Robert H Edwards
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 248
Illustrations: 40 colour illustrations, 60 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781399034340
Published: 4th April 2024
This Week's Best Sellers Rank: #3

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The last climb of George Mallory and Andrew Irvine, towards the summit of Mount Everest on 8 June 1924, has been shrouded in mystery for a century. Were they the first humans to stand at the highest point in the world? The discovery of Mallory's body in 1999 did nothing to resolve the mystery. Until now, accounts of their climb have been driven by speculation and preconceived narrative.

In this book, which marks the 100th anniversary of the fateful climb, Dr Robert Edwards brings the fresh and original perspective of a mathematician to the story of Mallory and Irvine.

Dr Edwards has assembled the contemporary accounts of the early British expeditions, written by the climbers and their leaders, and has identified their anomalies and inconsistencies. He has studied the letters of George Mallory, and has held in his hand the diaries of Andrew Irvine. He has viewed, in person, some of the surviving artifacts: the ice axe found in 1933, and Mallory's boots, recovered in 1999. He has corresponded with modern mountaineers who have climbed Everest. Above all, he has applied mathematics and modern imaging and mapping technology to an analysis of what the 1924 climbers could, and could not, have seen and done.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I’ve grown up fascinated by mountains (this, perhaps, is inherited from my father, who happens to be a retired climber) and have held an obsession with Everest for as long as I can remember. Something I am not alone in.

Everest has held a long-standing fascination with people since its discovery in the late 1800s as the world’s tallest mountain, it's summit the highest place on earth. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay have been accredited with being the first climbers to reach its top in 1953 on the ninth British expedition to take place. But one question remains: were they really the first?

Several decades earlier, another British expedition took place in 1924, in which George Mallory and Andrew Irvine attempted to be the first people on earth to summit the great Mount Everest. As anyone with any mountaineering experience or knowledge knows, tragedy befell them both. But for exactly 100 years, the same questions remain. Did they make it to the top? Did they die on their ascent or descent? What clues remain on the mountain? Edwards seeks not to answer this categorically (for no one as of yet truly can) but to eliminate certain lines of inquiry and expose what was probable and improbable, therefore divulging what was likely to have happened.

Edwards’ research is extensive and meticulous, and it was fascinating to see so many details of that expedition revealed, from letters and photographs, to sketches and maps. The facts of the 1924 expedition are so vast that any text on the subject could easily become a tangled web, but Edwards’ narration is measured, factual, and straightforward. His lack of bias towards the events that might or might not have taken place is also refreshing. It is a great addition to companion pieces about Mallory and the great mystery of 1924.

All in all, this was a deeply fascinating read. For those interested in Everest, particularly the early expeditions, this book is a must read, for it only deals in facts, and they really do speak for themselves.

NetGalley, Sophie L

This book is a great read if you love history, especially adventure history. Mt. Everest has held a place in my heart for years and I love reading about the great climbers. If you love mountain lore, history, and how Everest impacted Mallory, Irvine, the British Empire, and everyone around it, you'll love this story.

NetGalley, Katherine McCrea

About Robert H Edwards

Robert Edwards is a mathematician, private pilot, actor, author and illustrator. He read mathematics at Cambridge University and earned his master's degree and doctorate at the London School of Economics. He has lived, worked and studied in Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and North America. He is the author of three books in the series "Great 20th Century Mysteries": the acclaimed D. B. Cooper and Flight 305 (2021), Voynich Reconsidered (2024), and this one.

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