Though Tenzing Norgay wrote two memoirs, neither approaches the breadth and sophistication of Douglas's biography. Tenzing covers the spectacular rise and slow fall of the great Sherpa climber, whose triumph on Everest with Edmund Hillary made him both a hero and a man doomed to be disappointed by fame. Tenzing's ascent from illiterate yak herder to conquerer of Everest was one of the greatest boot-strappings of the 20th century. But his struggle to translate his near-godlike status into business success led to drinking and depression. Douglas, the former editor of Britain's Alpine Journal, combines a lifetime of climbing experience with a deft literary style to craft perhaps the best mountaineering biography ever written.
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