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Annapurna: The First Conquest of an 8000-Metre Peak Paperback – 6 Feb 1997

4.1 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Pimlico; New edition edition (6 Feb. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712673938
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712673938
  • Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 1.9 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 413,986 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"After being swept off his feet by an avalanche and left dangling by a rope around his neck, Herzog``began to pass water, violently and uncontrollably'. Your reaction may be only slightly less extreme as you move from one nail-biting moment to the next in this wonderful 1952 tale of triumph and frostbite." (Outside)

"Quite simply the greatest mountaineering book ever written." (Joe Simpson, from the Introduction)

Book Description

One of the great works of mountaineering literature- long out of print and now reissued with a new introduction by Joe Simpson.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I wish I could give this book negative stars! Herzog's self-serving account of the Annapurna expedition has dominated a generation of climbing lore but it does not tell the real story. If you are considering reading this book, please find and read the accounts of the other Annapurna expedition members: legendary mountain guides Lionel Terray and Gaston Rebuffat .... and especially the story of the other man on the summit: Louis Lachenal, "the panther of the snows," who was recognized, despite being crippled on Annapurna at only 28, as the most brilliant mountaineer of his generation.
Herzog (though you'd never know it from his account) was the only amateur and the least able member of the two lead ropes on Annapurna and the only amateur, but he was selected as the expedition leader by the organizers for largely financial and political reasons.
Before the team left France, Herzog made the other climbers sign an oath of silence that they would not speak or write about Annapurna for five years after their return. Only one person was going to get to tell the story of this expedition, and that was Herzog. The result: Herzog was lionized as the "Great White Chief" of the expedition--and the three legendary guides who actually got him to the summit -- including Lachenal -- were relegated to "mere accessories" (Terray's words).
Herzog told a nationalistic fairy tale that was just what post-war France wanted to hear, but he ignored the serious conflicts among the team members and the fact that "Lachenal was the guide [on the final assault], and Herzog the amateur." (Read Rebuffat's biography if you have a doubt on that score!
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By lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Nov. 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is a romanticized, sanitized account of the 1950 French expedition to the Himalayas by its so called leader, Maurice Herzog. It is a book that is reflective of the times in which it was written. Still, it should be a must read for anyone who is interested in high altitude climbing.
I first read this book in the early 1960s as a young teenager. I recall being enthralled by it and amazed at the hardships the climbers endured to bring glory to France. In reading it again as an adult, I find myself still enthralled, but more attuned to the fact that it is written in a somewhat self-serving style.
The book itself chronicles the attempt by the French to climb an 8,000 meter peak in the Himalayas. They had two alternatives: Dhaulagiri and Annapurna. In those days, the Himalayas were largely uncharted and any topographical maps which existed at the time proved to be largely incorrect. So, the French expedition spent a large portion of their time in reconnaissance. Not only were they there to climb the mountain, they first had to find a way to get to it and then map out a route on the unknown terrain to the summit. Ultimately, they chose to climb Annapurna.
In reading this book, one must remember that the climb took place without the sophisticated equipment or protective clothing available today. This was before gortex and freeze-dried foods. This climb was made before Nepal or climbing the Himalayas became a major tourist attraction. The conditions for travellers were extremely primitive and difficult under the best of circumstances.
When the expedition finally finds a route to Annapurna, the reader almost feels like cheering for them.
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By D. Elliott TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
The most quintessential of mountaineering's epic expedition books covering success and disaster must be Maurice Herzog's `Annapurna' - first published in French in 1951. It became an instant 5-star classic and subsequently sold millions with translations into over 40 languages and editions of all sorts and sizes including book-club reprints and paperbacks. The idealised story has been an inspiration for generations of would-be mountaineers, but foremost it met needs of post-war France with euphoric acceptance by the wider public. There is little doubt this first ascent of a Himalayan 8000 metre peak was a matter of national honour for France, and heart strings are tugged by the telling of the tale from Herzog's hospital bed. At the behest of the Comité de l'Himalaya and the Fédération Française de la Montagne the expedition was led by amateur mountaineer and war hero Herzog rather than technically superior professional guides, and they exploited the `heroic' emphasis of a triumphant return. Herzog clearly experienced a transcendental transformation as demonstrated by his later life in France, and validated by his final words: "There are other Annapurnas in the lives of men". This partially explains his grandiose and romanticised narrative style, but to be fair it merely typifies attitudes of 60 years ago. `Annapurna' has been criticised as self-adulating by Herzog and condescending to fellow summiter Louis Lachenal and other team members, and the language is so dated as to appear racist by today's values - but it was, and it remains, a classic that appeals to mountaineers and general readers alike. I recently re-read `Annapurna' alongside David Roberts book `True Summit' claiming to tell "what really happened on the legendary ascent of Annapurna". This may be a more accurate account - but Maurice Herzog's book continues to deserve a 5-star rating.
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