Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Paths Of Glory

It is a novel by Jeffrey Archer based on the life of George Mallory, a mountaineer who vanished on Mount Everest back in 1924, and who was last seen “going strongly for the summit”. Thus this is a story where the only things uncertain about the ending are whether Mallory reached the top or not, and what happened to him.

Born in 1886, George Mallory was a brilliant student who became part of the Bloomsbury Group at Cambridge in the early twentieth century and served in the Royal Garrison Artillery during World War I. After the war, he married, and had three children. His passion was mountain climbing. Mallory once told a reporter that he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, “because it is there.” He tried two times and failed. In the book it takes us all the way from George Mallory’s childhood, living in his father’s house, to the summit of Everest.

On his third try, in 1924, thirty-seven years old, he was last seen four hundred feet from the top. His body was eventually found in 1999. It is still a mystery whether he and his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine, ever reached the summit.

Paths of Glory is an excellent historical novel. How much of the story is fact and how much is fiction no one is able to tell as no one knows whether Mallory reached the peak or not. It is fascinating, persuasive, and extremely enjoyable to read. Great entertainment!

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