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Item #: BK424-930
VERTICAL MARGINS Rueben Ellis 2001 1st ed Softcover Fine
By Ellis, Rueben
Price: $21.95


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Wisconsin, 2001, 1st edition. 231 pp. Used softcover. Fine.

The the climbing exploits of Annie Peck in Bolivia, John Noel on Everest and MacKinder on Mt Kenya influenced and advanced neo-imperial ambitions of England and America. A new look at mountaineering politics! Paperback.

This engaging analysis of twentieth-century imperialism takes early mountaineering beyond the realm of recreation. Vertical Margins sets Halford Mackinder's 1899 climb of Mt. Kenya, Annie Smith Peck's 1908 ascent of Huascaran in Bolivia, and John Baptiste Noel's filming of the 1924 British attempt on Mt. Everest in the larger historical context of American and British foreign policy and neo-imperialism.

Reuben Ellis shows that mountain exploration reached far beyond the motivations of adrenaline-driven adventurers to an aggressive ideology of power and expansion that fed the 'New Imperialism'-the end of the era of European empire-building and the beginnings of American dominance in world affairs. With so many mountains at the margins of European and American territorial and economic domains, mountaineering often overlapped with the motivations of empire; the earth's mountains came to be regarded as frontiers open to the full range of political, economic, and personal concerns that drove geographical exploration.

Once again Professor Ellis has top-roped us Phillistines onto the challenging academic ledge that embraces the exploration narrative as powerful literature. Honestly, his scintillating start is followed by an even more promising introduction that speaks to the Gore-tex and fleece crowd, and draws a circle at base camp. While paying heed to scholarly conventions, Ellis' familar style shares an adrenaline-laced tale with the rest of us that emerges from the dusty and stained journals from the likes of London's Alpine Club.

His insightful portrayal of Mackinder's 1899 imperial ascent of Mt. Kenya ressurects images of the Duke of Abruzzi, and his equally thoughtful recitation of Noel's 1924 film documentary of the British expedition on Everest is the stuff of current fancy. But Dr. Ellis initiates the reader 's stunned self-arrest at 58 year old Annie Smith Peck's amazing first ascent of Huascaran in 1908. Peck, the original post modernist, is equally comfortable planting a banner, VOTES FOR WOMEN, on the summit, as she is detailing the arduous athletic nature of mountaineering and commenting on the rich social, cultural and geographical landscape from which the massif juts. One can only hope that Ellis will abandon his fine research, and ancient volumns, and chronicle his own peripatetic life's journey up the scree slopes of distant desolate peaks; after all, that's where the real story begins. 


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