NOTHING VENTURE, NOTHING WIN by Sir Edmund Hillary

NOTHING VENTURE, NOTHING WIN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Glimpses of the great mountain climber's personality emerge from this illustrated autobiography but more inadvertently than by design. Mostly it's terse crampon-by-crampon descriptions of Hillary's major climbs and expeditions, necessarily overlapping with his half-dozen previous books. Mountain-climbing buffs will probably wish these accounts were less condensed and more detailed; others will wish they didn't take up so much of the book to the exclusion of more personal material. But by the end, interesting fragments have assembled themselves into a portrait. Hillary never attempts anything like self-description, but we come to understand a man of (usually) genial arrogance who is temperamentally incapable of introspection, brusquely suspicious of pretense and fuss, genuinely distressed about his own tendency to ride roughshod over human obstacles (almost a bullying streak), alert to his own interests but also fond of seeing himself doing the right thing. The shadow of ancient resentments and frictions sometimes falls across the narrative -- Hillary pointedly praises Tenzing Norgay (who made it with him to the top of Everest) for ambition rather than any more rarefied virtue, and he can hardly conceal his impatience with Sir Vivian Fuchs' leadership of the 1955-58 South Pole expedition. Hillary's last years have been largely occupied with building schools, bridges, hospitals, and airfields in almost inaccessible areas of Nepal -- an endeavor he regards with an endearing skepticism but which nevertheless keeps him provided with goals. A likable man, not least for his faults -- and the same could be said of this unpolished, unhokey book.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1975
Publisher: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan