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Tenzing: Hero of Everest


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U.K.-based writer, editor and mountaineer Douglas has written what his publisher is touting as "the first full biography of Tenzing Norgay," the Sherpa leader who accompanied Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953 on their pioneering 29,028-foot climb to the top of Mt. Everest. Douglas follows in the snow-covered path of last year's books by Tenzing's son, Jamling Tenzing Norgay (Touching My Father's Soul) and grandson Tashi Tenzing (Tenzing Norgay and the Sherpas of Everest). An illiterate yak herder, Tibetan-born Tenzing grew up in the shadow of Chomolungma (the Sherpa name for Everest), and in 1935 was chosen for his first expedition, although "he couldn't yet speak a word of English and had to gesture that he had no certificate from the Himalayan Club." When he reached the summit in 1953 he became "a role model for ordinary people, someone of humble birth who had made headlines around the world." Douglas weaves numerous Everest adventurers into this tapestry of Tenzing's life, and the author's extensive mountain-climbing experience gives the book an authoritative solidity. He enumerates tragic deaths, compares contradictory passages in various written accounts and examines cultural misunderstandings, commenting on political issues triggered by Tenzing's triumph. He also covers Tenzing's later years, which were darkened by drinking and depression. This is an honest, inspiring look at one of history's great adventurers. Map and photos not seen by PW. (Mar.) Forecast: Everest will be a hot subject next year, as 2003 marks the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of the mountain. There will undoubtedly be much crossover marketing for this book within the National Geographic universe, including ads in the magazine and Web site promos. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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