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Annapurna

A Woman's Place
Narrated by: Eileen Stevens
Length: 9 hrs and 59 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (19 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In August 1978, 13 women left San Francisco for the Nepal Himalayas to make history as the first Americans - and the first women - to scale the treacherous slopes of Annapurna I, the world's 10th highest peak. Expedition leader Arlene Blum here tells their dramatic story: the logistical problems, storms, and hazardous ice climbing; the conflicts and reconciliations within the team; the terror of avalanches that threatened to sweep away camps and climbers.

On October 15, two women and two Sherpas at last stood on the summit - but the celebration was cut short, for two days later, the two women of the second summit team fell to their deaths.

Never before has such an account of mountaineering triumph and tragedy been told from a woman's point of view. By proving that women had the skill, strength, and courage necessary to make this difficult and dangerous climb, the 1978 Women's Himalayan Expedition's accomplishment had a positive impact around the world, changing perceptions about women's abilities in sports and other arenas. And Annapurna: A Woman's Place has become an acknowledged classic in the annals of women's achievements - a story of challenge and commitment told with passion, humor, and unflinching honesty.

©1980, 1998, 2018 Arlene Blum (P)2018 Blackstone Publishing

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An Actual Review (From Someone Who Listened)

First, I want to thank the one and only reviewer of this book for letting me know it was probably going to be a decent one. The disingenuous nature of it immediately made me suspicious, and, as it turns out, I was not incorrect.

The fact of the matter is, if you replaced all the references to 'first woman' to 'first American' or 'first (whatever),' the book wouldn't be all that different from a number of others in mountaineering circles. The back-patting and self-congratulation it's being accused of? It's not uncommon. Are there references to the accomplishments of women in mountain climbing throughout the years? Yes, absolutely. That's the point. But it's in the preface, depicting women passionate enough to climb in what is still a largely male-dominated field. And they're worth listing, because, surprising to no one, women were often written off as being incapable of the feats described in this retelling of the 1978 expedition.

Ironically, the review itself encapsulates the very reason the expedition was so important to each of its members.

To be clear: summiting Annapurna I *is* an accomplishment. It is not a walk in the park. Though not as technically challenging as K2, Annapurna I has one of the highest death counts per summit of any mountain on Earth, and the sheer number of avalanches and other hazards that the expedition encounters attests to this. Not only that, in facing it, they did, in fact, prove that women were just as capable of making an extraordinarily difficult climb, something they were generally thought to be unable to manage-- for whatever reason a not-insignificant number of their male peers could think of.

There is no back-patting that isn't earned, or self-congratulatory boasting that somehow goes beyond the realm of reason. There is only 'we did it'-- and they didn't do it without significant losses, or without issue. If one makes it past the preface, it's not long before the story is knee-deep in fighting off swarms of leeches in order to take a powder, and the less-than-glamorous GI upset that so often comes up in these stories. There's bickering, there's bodily betrayals, and the occasional mutiny-- everything you're looking for in a non-fiction account of a trek across Nepal to the summit of Annapurna, it's all there. And it's a wonderful book to listen to.

I'll admit, however, the performance felt a bit dissonant, at times. The narrator wasn't quite as engaging as I might have preferred her to be, and some of the low points felt a little too light-hearted, as a result, but overall it didn't take me out of the story enough to say 'it's bad.' It's still quite listenable, and still, overall, very enjoyable.

So, again: thank you, salty reviewer. I might have passed this book up, had I not read your throw-away review on an otherwise inspiring book. Much as it came with an exceedingly high price, Arlene Blum and the members of her expedition deserve to feel proud of what they've accomplished, without being scolded for some perceived failure to show the 'proper' amount of modesty.

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a pat yourself on the back boasting read

i was hopin to listen to a 1st hand experience on a mountains story instead i listened to a boastful womens comparsion of how great and amazing women can climb..... constant reminding how this was a womens feat and really ruined the experince that coulda been portrayed on a incredible 8000 meter mountain.....

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  • Matt
  • 12-09-18

Sorry...rather dull

There are far more interesting audio books out there covering this topic. It seems the only reason this one exists is due to the fact the climbing party was all female. I thought this would provide an interesting new angle on a classic tale of survival and endurance...but actually it doesn’t paint a particularly strong picture of female success through adversity....I’m afraid it’s just not interesting to hear endless stories about how difficult the Sherpas were being, or how she constantly questioned her authority and leadership skills.... This was undoubtedly a fantastic achievement....but getting a 9 hour audio book out of it was a stretch.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful