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The Summits of Modern Man: Mountaineering…
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The Summits of Modern Man: Mountaineering after the Enlightenment

by Peter H. Hansen

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0674047990, Hardcover)

The history of mountaineering has long served as a metaphor for civilization triumphant. Once upon a time, the Alps were an inaccessible habitat of specters and dragons, until heroic men—pioneers of enlightenment—scaled their summits, classified their strata and flora, and banished the phantoms forever. A fascinating interdisciplinary study of the first ascents of the major Alpine peaks and Mount Everest, The Summits of Modern Man surveys the far-ranging significance of our encounters with the world’s most alluring and forbidding heights.

Our obsession with “who got to the top first” may have begun in 1786, the year Jacques Balmat and Michel-Gabriel Paccard climbed Mont Blanc and inaugurated an era in which Romantic notions of the sublime spurred climbers’ aspirations. In the following decades, climbing lost its revolutionary cachet as it became associated instead with bourgeois outdoor leisure. Still, the mythic stories of mountaineers, threaded through with themes of imperialism, masculinity, and ascendant Western science and culture, seized the imagination of artists and historians well into the twentieth century, providing grist for stage shows, poetry, films, and landscape paintings.

Today, we live on the threshold of a hot planet, where melting glaciers and rising sea levels create ambivalence about the conquest of nature. Long after Hillary and Tenzing’s ascent of Everest, though, the image of modern man supreme on the mountaintop retains its currency. Peter Hansen’s exploration of these persistent images indicates how difficult it is to imagine our relationship with nature in terms other than domination.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:19 -0400)

Dortmunder has a job offer. He's been hired by third parties to pull off heists in the past, but never to lay his hands on anything this peculiar. Frankly, it's a bone. Not just any bone. A femur. Well, not just any femur, either. A femur which, 800 years ago, was part of a 16-year-old girl who, having been killed and eaten by her own family, was made a saint by the Church. The femur, her only relic, is all that's left. Now two small eastern European countries - Tsergovia and Votskojek - are fighting like dogs over...well, the bone. There's only room for one of them in the United Nations General Assembly, and the choice is in the hands of a powerful Catholic prelate. The country that tosses him the bone is sure to be in like Flynn.… (more)

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