On May 29, 1953, Tenzing Norgay made history when he and Edmund Hillary became the first men ever to reach the top of the Himalayas' Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world.
This book, written by Norgay's grandson, Tashi Tenzing, and Tenzing's wife Judy, places Tenzing Norgay in context, exploring the Sherpa culture. (Sherpas are the native people, Buddhists, who live on the south side of Everest. They're famous for their climbing abilities and capacity to endure cold.) As a whole, the Sherpas are a very devout people who prize nature, even the very harsh nature they live in.
Tenzing Norgay wasn't sure of the year he was born. (Historians believe it was probably 1914.) Long thought to have been born in Nepal, he was actually born in what is now Tibet Autonomous Region. By the time he signed on with the Hunt expedition of 1953, he'd been part of six other attempts to ascend Everest.
Although this book has an excellent account of the actual ascent, what I found most interesting is Tenzing's account of the rest of his grandfather's life. Plunged into the limelight, he often had trouble dealing with his sudden fame. But he would use it to champion the cause of his very poor people.
This book also includes the story of Tashi Tenzing's own ascent of Everest in 1997, 11 years after the death of his grandfather.
One interesting aside - historians have debated whether it was Hillary or Norgay who actually first made it to the very summit of Everest (just as people debate whether Peary or Henson made it to the North Pole first). Tenzing thinks it was Hillary.
This report prepared by Ann Gaines