Did they or didn't they conquer Everest before Hillary and Tenzing 30 years later? Mallory and Irvine's fatal attempt in 1924 is the stuff of legend, and the authors have turned it into a first-rate epic of sacrifice, loss and love. George Mallory stars and is the heart of this book. A fine athlete, public-school master, writer, friend of Lytton Strachey, Rupert Brooke, Robert Graves' teacher and darling of the Bloomsbury set, he was also a loving husband and father. Quoting from many sources and especially Mallory's notes and letters, the authors capture the mountaineering enthusiasm in England from pre-WW I days to the 1930's. The technical, personnel and strategic debates of the day are well covered. Some people were petty and others rather noble, but it is Mallory's forthrightness and decency that win you totally. The other characters in this epic are a variegated lot, and those they left at home, especially Mallory's wife, are quite affecting. The financial strain of the quest fell on George's wife to a great degree, but they overcame it and the frequent separations. At the end, Mallory and Irvine were last seen making for the top only to disappear in a swirling mist. Some think they made it and died on the descent. The authors plan an expedition to try to settle this question once and for all. An arresting saga of bravery and daring--and your heart will ache a bit at the Mallorys' unique love story.