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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Paths of Glory (audiobook) by Jeffrey Archer

Sometimes exciting, sometimes tedious

Published in 2009 by MacMillan Audio
Read by Roger Allam
Duration: 11 hours, 6 minutes

This is my first Archer book. I used to work in a bookstore and we would sell quite a few of his books so I was looking forwards to experiencing both a rousing adventure and an Archer book. But, based on this work, I doubt I will be looking for more by Archer.

The book is about the man who may have been the first person to to get to the top of Mount Everest, George Mallory and who is, perhaps, most famous for saying, "because it is there" when he was asked why he wanted to climb Everest. Paths of Glory is a historical fiction of his life and shows evidence of a lot of research and care.

This audiobook runs 11 hours on 9 CDs. It could use some serious editing. The climbing and personal life details of the book are, for the most part, interesting. Some of the particulars of his academic career slow the book. The in-depth re-creation of meetings of the Royal Geographic Society (with the accompanying interjections of "Here, here!" and "God Save the King!") reminded me of being in most of the meetings I've had to suffer through throughout my career - I kept wondering if I could have just skipped the meeting and received the abbreviated memo version instead.

George Mallory (1886-1924)
The last CD is solid. The extra attention to detail is dropped in favor of a quicker form of narration: a summary letter from Mallory to his wife. The ending is satisfying even if the reader is quite aware of the way it has to end.

So, in sum, the book is too long for its own good. At least two hours could have been edited from it without hurting the story - in fact, it would have helped. If you are interested in the topic but want to devote less time, I suggest instead the documentary The Wildest Dream: Conquest of Everest.

I rate this audiobook 3 stars out of 5.

This audiobook can be found here on Amazon.com: Paths of Glory.

Reviewed on July 4, 2009

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