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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 23 November 2001
I bought this book in an attempt to cheer myself up amist a depressing work load.
After a good introduction I went over the first chapters stepping carefully and curiously observing whether this was what the cover promised.
The books grows on you because it not a simple attempt to assemble a host of funny jokes. But better, it is the brilliantly crafted caracters that you get to know that will crack you up. These characters are revealed bit by bit through every tongue-in-cheek incident that takes place in the course of their (parody of an) expedition.
I tried to read this in the tube only to find that my laughter became a scene. So I went and retreated to Hampstead Heath to get the peace to read it.
Truly uplifting and funny.
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on 29 October 2001
I'm not a climber, but I do enjoy humour - the drier the better - and I love this book. I first read it 15 years ago and have just re-bought it for myself as an early Christmas present. It's a very gentle, deadpan tale of disaster that I've regularly found myself re-reading over the years. Treat yourself to a laugh. You won't be disappointed.
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on 21 October 2001
An elite team is put together to climb the highest mountain in the world (40,000 and a half feet). The hapless bunch set of across Yogistan, led by Jungle, "Radio expert and route finder. Had been nearly as high as most". (Unfortunately he has got lost on the way). The groups welfare tended to by Prone,"Doctor of the expedition and our oxygen expert. Had been high enough. Barely returned from the Himalayas". Helped by Yogistani porters, the head man being, "Bing The Bang" and the worst cook in the world "Pong". So begins a Hilarious adventure, every page having you laughing out loud, as well as containg a memorable quote to use later. The momentum and parody kept sharp from start to finish.
If you want a book to make you feel good and laugh out loud, you must buy this comedy classic. It realy is the funniest book you will ever read
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on 17 August 2004
I was a little wary when this book was recommended to me, but it is undoubtedly one of the funniest books I have ever read. Even the jokes which seem a little too obvious at first (such as the team's navigator becoming lost en route to the planning meeting) are really just plants for an ongoing series of gentle running gags which are developed wonderfully. The writing is superb and I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a dry sense of humour. There are so many little comments and observations that the book is as funny if not funnier every time you read it. Excellent.
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on 21 January 2003
You never know with humour, and for the first half of this book I wasn't at all sure I was going to like it. Was it funny at all? I couldn't make up my mind. Then, more or less as the great climb got well and truly under way, something in my mind meshed with the sublime, ethereal imbecility of the author's theme and suddenly I kept roaring with laughter.
In a way, this is a quintessentially English book. Its humour is so gentle, so oblique, so dry. Even the running gags - of which there are many - take a while to bed down. The first reference to carrying cases of champagne up the mountain tends to have little or no impact on your brain. It's such a ridiculously impossible idea that your mind simply rejects it. But it keeps coming back, progressively associated with the expedition leader's stolid persistence in believing that it is all for "medicinal purposes", until suddenly you are swept away by helpless laughter.
If you appreciate dry wit, and you happen to have a day to spare (two half-days will answer almost as well), you really owe it to yourself to join our intrepid heros and share their triumphs, disasters and general roaring incompetence. You won't regret it.
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on 14 October 2004
In my humble opinion, no funnier book than "Three Men in a Boat" has ever been written, but for anyone who appreciates that kind of humour this is a pretty close second (hence only 4 stars..a bit unfair perhaps).
The brilliance of the writing is that the main running joke, i.e. the withering contempt of the rest of the team for their leader, "Binder", is obvious to all except Binder himself (shades of Dave Brent in "The Office"), but this cannot be made explicit in the narrative as this is supposedly written by Binder himself.
A great shame the author never lived to see the belated appreciation of his genius.
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on 21 March 2003
This is without question the funniest book I have read for a very long time. So much so that it had me laughing out loud and disgustingly in very public places. Some Australian scientists are so impressed with it they have named a mountain in Antarctica after it. It is NOT a "mountaineering" book - it's a hoot. Give it to all your friends for Christmas. If you have no friends give it to complete strangers - they should be eternally grateful.
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on 1 December 2007
I very much enjoy humour books and have been reading and collecting them for years. This one is certainly in my top ten. I first read it about 15 or so years ago, after stumbling across it in a bookstore, and remember laughing aloud a lot at some of the wonderfully cosy and subtle humour. In fact, back then I re-read it about four times, and then lent it out to everyone I knew who I thought would like it. I remember my sister finding it hysterical (but then she enjoys subtle humour based on character and found 'Diary of a Nobody' hilarious too).

What prompted me to write this review is that I was surfing through these pages yesterday and came across the entry for the Ascent of Rum Doodle, and looked at the other reviews, and doing that caused me to pop up in the attic and dig out the book and read it again last night. Although it had that 'time gap' quality to it, like watching an old Morecambe & Wise show that you haven't seen for years and so you can't help comparing how you feel now with how you felt when you first encountered it, and although it was so familiar that I could almost recite the jokes in it, I *still* thought it was great. That same cosiness was there, together with that real sense of having stumbled across something very 'different' to the norm - and certainly different to the run-of-the-mill 'comedy' books you usually find churned out.

I won't say much about the storyline, since that's covered already above, but will suggest that everyone give themselves a real treat and buy a copy of The Ascent of Rum Doodle (the Voyage of the Flying Fish - another Bowman book - is pretty good too, but Rum Doodle is the one to curl up with and have a really nice time).

Can't give this book anything but 5 stars!
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on 10 June 2016
This book may be uncomfortable reading to ancient climbers.
It parodies the old " superior European" attitude.
When the expedition finds it has thousands of porters it' s an echo of the post 2nd World War Italian expedition which had 600. Porters carrying " climbers" has verification in photos.
Expedition members staying in base camp while others work reminds one of a climber of the 60 s and 70s who did this. When going to help climbers who had been stranded without food , they found their rescuer 'Villain' had eaten the food he' d brought for them.
As a fan of this era of mountaineering books, I found that the book, like all good comedy, is based on exaggerated fact.
A funny book.
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on 13 March 2010
I haven't laughed this much since first reading 'Three Men in a Boat'. Written over half a century ago, 'The Ascent of Rum Doodle' is still fresh, original, funny and spectacularly silly. And of course, in the best tradition of the mountaineering classics it parodies, it is gripping too, keeping you in suspense throughout: will they be able to climb the 40,000-and-a-half-foot peak of Rum Doodle?
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