Sunday, December 27, 2009

High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed by Michael Kodas

Originally posted about Feb 13, 2008

Fascinating storylines but could be smoother

I thought the book was a real eye-opener, especially as a non-climber who revered Mt. Everest from afar. The content is shocking, disturbing and disillusioning. The book was well-written but in a manner that felt like a magazine expose', particularly in the progression of chapters. Although the author did give dates and places, they did not run in a smooth fashion. It would have helped to keep track of each storyline within the main story if there were some indication in the chapter headings as to which party we were back to reading about; I found it very confusing to check back and forth to keep each story straight. Without a doubt there are problems on the mountain that should be dealt with: criminal, simple ill-preparation and neglect. The book certainly brought that to the fore.

However, I would have preferred that threats be described, rather than as verbatim conversation, simply because there is no way to prove this. As a wake-up call, shocking as it is, the book is well-worth reading. Did I enjoy it? Yes, but I did not come away from it feeling finished. Personally, I think one of the biggest eye-openers is the number of people who come to climb Everest without preparation, experience, or any real knowledge of high altitude climbing, doing it on a lark almost, another notch in their axe. Would I recommend the book? If you like sensational reading, then yes, go for it. If you expect some closure, I neither recommend it nor tell a person not to read it. This is one of those books which each person will have to determine for themselves. Everyone's take on it will differ. Did I like the author? Yes, but feel his style has not yet been firmed up for authoring books, it needs to be tightened and smoother flowing. Overall, it was slow going due to the problems noted above, but fast within each story, he does action best. I do applaud what he is trying to do.

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