Peter and Leni Gillman have produced a beautifully paced biography about one of climbing's greatest enigmas, George Mallory. Anyone who is intrigued by the first attempts to scale the world's highest mountain will be captivated by this fine work and the Gillman's genuine affection for their subject. In fact, the authors' fondness for Mallory is so obvious that it's almost as if they knew him in person: at times, they manage to paint his relationships with friends and family (particularly his wife, Ruth) in such detail that it's almost like witnessing events first-hand and it is this deep understanding and skilful narrative that makes this one of the finest biographies of Mallory yet written.
If there can be a criticism, it must be of the Gillman's slightly clumsy treatment of Mallory's sexuality: it makes little difference (to me) whether Mallory was homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual - it is not (or, at least, it shouldn't be) his sexual proclivities that define him. During an all too brief life, Mallory was a teacher, a warrior, and a fine mountaineer: these attributes seem more important than his choice of sleeping partner. However, given the almost obsessive interest in this aspect of George Mallory's character, it's inevitable the the Gillmans would tackle the issue: strange then that they should simply declare him "straight" after devoting a lengthy chapter to his relationships with other men at Cambridge.
Nonetheless, this minor gripe should not put potential readers off: the book is a superb account of Mallory's life and his loss.