Book Review Sir Edmund Hilary’ Autobiography

BOOK REVIEW by Luina Lynch, Secretary of the Cook Islands Library & Museum Council.

 “Nothing  Venture, Nothing Win” – an autobiography by Edmund Hillary

By chance, this was a recent selection from the Cook Islands Library.  As 2013 marks the 60th anniversary of Edmund Hillary’s conquering of Mount Everest in Nepal, it seems appropriate to write a short background of this historic event and events leading up to it as recorded in this book.  Starting with Hillary’s childhood, he records those days with particular reference to his train rides to school which taught him much about survival “horseplay” … “nothing vicious about it – merely the side effects of violent youthful energy”.  He also writes about his long hikes in his youthful years into the Southern Alps in New Zealand (often alone if he could not find a suitably-minded companion). These trips included many lessons in survival and dealing with rugged conditions including independence, rough sleeping (sometimes shared with animal life which had taken over residence in the often deserted mountain huts), basic food requirements (which had to be self carried in) and unexpected poor turns in the weather.  The book continues with sections on his marriage, family life and several more of his epic adventures as well as the Everest successful climb – leading an Antarctic expedition, the race for the Pole and the search for the Yeti also involving testing high-altitude equipment.  In Hillary’s photo, on the New Zealand $5 note, he looks towards the heights, his face is weathered, his hair tousled – a man of vision and the outdoors.  Although published in 1975 this book is worth a read now or a revisit at this anniversary time.

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