This book explores what may actually have happened during the 1950 French expedition to the Himalayas which was 'led' by Maurice Herzog. This expedition was the first to summit an 8,000 meter peak, and it was the cause for much nationalist pride in post-war France.
'True Summit' is a very interesting read in terms of its research, as well as its historical and archival detail. Its author, David Roberts, is himself a mountaineer and has an innate understanding of the subject matter of the book, which contributes to its success.
I would, however, highly recommend that one first read Maurice Herzog's "Annapurna" which is Herzog's first person, romanticized account of the expedition and the source for much of what is analyzed in this book. Reading it will ground readers of 'True Summit' in the context out of which this book arises, and will make it that much more enjoyable.
After the ostensible summit of Annapurna (more about this in 'True Summit') by Herzog and Louis Lachenal who were aided in their harrowing descent by fellow expeditioners, Lionel Terray and Gaston Rebuffat, only Maurice Herzog went on to become a national hero in France. The other three mountaineers, all of whom were more experienced and proficient, were largely ignored in what was to become a carefully orchestrated, media event around Maurice Herzog.
"True Summit" attempts to set the story straight and right past wrongs. It also helps to debunk the self-serving, though gripping, sanitized account authored by expedition leader Maurice Herzog. What emerges is a more realistic picture of what may have actually transpired during that fateful, 1950 French expedition.
This book ensures that the contributions of three of the main protagonists, Lachenal, Terray, and Rebuffat, all highly experienced mountaineers from the Chamonix region of France, will not be forgatten. It is a memorial to their efforts during that expedition and well worth reading.