Monday, January 16, 1995

K2: The 1939 Tragedy

by Andrew J. Kauffman and William Lowell Putnam

The apparently infamous story of Fritz Wiessner's expedition to K2 in which climber (and financier) Dudley Wolfe and three Sherpas died. It contains new evidence on the story, notably Jack Durrance's diary. Durrance has heretofore been the scapegoat. The book also contained many appendices, like the official report, climbing charts, and so on. The book's writing style is childish: misused words, jumpy, rambling at times. Near the end it got repetitive, like a schoolchild attempting to meet an essay's length requirement. What annoyed me most was its noncommittal stance on its own argument. The book ends with a series of questions that the text ostensibly provided answers for! However, on the whole, it was an informative and surprisingly engaging book. I for one was convinced that Fritz's oft-proven faulty memory is a poor indicator of what happened, whereas Durrance's diary seems to be straightforward and reliable.

three stars

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