A fine tale of adventure and exploration sure to please any fan of climbing and Everest lore.

THE THIRD POLE

MYSTERY, OBSESSION, AND DEATH ON MOUNT EVEREST

The author of The Impossible Climb (2019) returns with another hair-raising mountaineering story.

Professional climber and journalist Synnott chronicles his climb of Mount Everest in hopes of finding the remains, and an all-important camera, of George Mallory’s climbing partner, Andrew Irvine. In 1924, Mallory made an ill-fated attempt to be the first known human to summit Everest. Irvine joined Mallory for the final push, and neither man returned. If found, Irvine’s camera might provide evidence that the men attained the summit, or didn’t. This is the story of that attempt, narrated by Synnott with easy grace—even when the climbing and weather were anything but. The expedition also ran into the usual bureaucratic delays from the host nation (they were climbing the north face, which is in China), but the author introduces readers to a side of the mountain and its routes not typically seen, as most expeditions start from the Nepalese side. In addition to describing all of the roadblocks in their way, he populates the harrowing text with excellent background material to convey a rich sense of what summiting the great peaks entails. Synnott offers important pocket-sized biographies of Mallory and Irvine, of course, but there are also discerning forays into British colonial geopolitics, the ongoing disputes between China and Nepal, Tibet’s tortured relations with China, and the many vested Chinese political interests in the history of Everest mountaineering. Unsurprisingly, given his experience as a mountain guide, Synnott writes with gratifying savvy about all elements involved in the dangerous venture: Everest meteorology, notoriously unpredictable; the effects of altitude on the body and mind; the pleasures of camping in the sky; and the impressive biological adaptations of Sherpas, who “function at high altitudes like highly efficient hybrid vehicles that get many miles per gallon, whereas the rest of us are gas-guzzling SUVs.”

A fine tale of adventure and exploration sure to please any fan of climbing and Everest lore.

Pub Date: April 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4557-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

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Smart, engaging sportswriting—good reading for organization builders as well as Pats fans.

THE DYNASTY

Action-packed tale of the building of the New England Patriots over the course of seven decades.

Prolific writer Benedict has long blended two interests—sports and business—and the Patriots are emblematic of both. Founded in 1959 as the Boston Patriots, the team built a strategic home field between that city and Providence. When original owner Billy Sullivan sold the flailing team in 1988, it was $126 million in the hole, a condition so dire that “Sullivan had to beg the NFL to release emergency funds so he could pay his players.” Victor Kiam, the razor magnate, bought the long since renamed New England Patriots, but rival Robert Kraft bought first the parking lots and then the stadium—and “it rankled Kiam that he bore all the risk as the owner of the team but virtually all of the revenue that the team generated went to Kraft.” Check and mate. Kraft finally took over the team in 1994. Kraft inherited coach Bill Parcells, who in turn brought in star quarterback Drew Bledsoe, “the Patriots’ most prized player.” However, as the book’s nimbly constructed opening recounts, in 2001, Bledsoe got smeared in a hit “so violent that players along the Patriots sideline compared the sound of the collision to a car crash.” After that, it was backup Tom Brady’s team. Gridiron nerds will debate whether Brady is the greatest QB and Bill Belichick the greatest coach the game has ever known, but certainly they’ve had their share of controversy. The infamous “Deflategate” incident of 2015 takes up plenty of space in the late pages of the narrative, and depending on how you read between the lines, Brady was either an accomplice or an unwitting beneficiary. Still, as the author writes, by that point Brady “had started in 223 straight regular-season games,” an enviable record on a team that itself has racked up impressive stats.

Smart, engaging sportswriting—good reading for organization builders as well as Pats fans.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982134-10-5

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

THE MEATEATER GUIDE TO WILDERNESS SKILLS AND SURVIVAL

The bad news: On any given outdoor expedition, you are your own worst enemy. The good news: If you are prepared, which this book helps you achieve, you might just live through it.

As MeatEater host and experienced outdoorsman Rinella notes, there are countless dangers attendant in going into mountains, woods, or deserts; he quotes journalist Wes Siler: “People have always managed to find stupid ways to die.” Avoiding stupid mistakes is the overarching point of Rinella’s latest book, full of provocative and helpful advice. One stupid way to die is not to have the proper equipment. There’s a complication built into the question, given that when humping gear into the outdoors, weight is always an issue. The author’s answer? “Build your gear list by prioritizing safety.” That entails having some means of communication, water, food, and shelter foremost and then adding on “extra shit.” As to that, he notes gravely, “a National Park Service geologist recently estimated that as much as 215,000 pounds of feces has been tossed haphazardly into crevasses along the climbing route on Denali National Park’s Kahiltna Glacier, where climbers melt snow for drinking water.” Ingesting fecal matter is a quick route to sickness, and Rinella adds, there are plenty of outdoorspeople who have no idea of how to keep their bodily wastes from ruining the scenery or poisoning the water supply. Throughout, the author provides precise information about wilderness first aid, ranging from irrigating wounds to applying arterial pressure to keeping someone experiencing a heart attack (a common event outdoors, given that so many people overexert without previous conditioning) alive. Some takeaways: Keep your crotch dry, don’t pitch a tent under a dead tree limb, walk side-hill across mountains, and “do not enter a marsh or swamp in flip-flops, and think twice before entering in strap-on sandals such as Tevas or Chacos.”

A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12969-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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