I am not a mountain climber, but an admirer of those who are. The Mallory story has fascinated me for years, but until this magisterial and magnificent new book made its appearance I hadn't read much about him. I appreciated many things, especially the description of the WW1 atrocities.I've read a few books on the subject by Canadian authors and have been greatly moved by the sacrifice, the innocence, and maddening inflexibility of the Brits under which we fought. (The same bull-headed inflexibility almost led to the defeat of the British navy at Jutland.) Davis's weaving of this background story into the Everest story is masterful, moving, and helpful in understanding the milieu of the times that lead to Everest.
I was also grateful for the author's treatment of Canadian Arthur Wakefield who accomplished so much in his lifetime, yet was under-appreciated by Mallory. Until now I knew nothing of Wakefield, but I plan to pursue finding out more about him. There was also another Canadian Edward Wheeler, of whom Mallory also held a less than stellar opinion, probably because Mallory suffered from a condition that held colonials in low regard. And yet Wheeler was critical to Mallory's team. He was also later knighted for his services in mapping India for the Brits. To my mind Mallory is emblematic of the easy disregard Canadians suffer from others who know little about us and care even less.
The characters in this book all stand out clearly and sympathetically. They moved me a great deal. The descriptions of Tibet and other places (not to mention England at that time) left clear impressions on my mind and in my heart. Davis's language is always clear and affective. Overall, the treatment of the reasons why men did these things is simply wonderful. The author has great insight and delicacy.
All in all a great, great read.