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Publisher's Summary

In August 1978, 13 women left San Francisco for the Nepal Himalayas to make history as the first Americans - and the first women - to scale the treacherous slopes of Annapurna I, the world's 10th highest peak. Expedition leader Arlene Blum here tells their dramatic story: the logistical problems, storms, and hazardous ice climbing; the conflicts and reconciliations within the team; the terror of avalanches that threatened to sweep away camps and climbers.

On October 15, two women and two Sherpas at last stood on the summit - but the celebration was cut short, for two days later, the two women of the second summit team fell to their deaths.

Never before has such an account of mountaineering triumph and tragedy been told from a woman's point of view. By proving that women had the skill, strength, and courage necessary to make this difficult and dangerous climb, the 1978 Women's Himalayan Expedition's accomplishment had a positive impact around the world, changing perceptions about women's abilities in sports and other arenas. And Annapurna: A Woman's Place has become an acknowledged classic in the annals of women's achievements - a story of challenge and commitment told with passion, humor, and unflinching honesty.

©1980, 1998, 2018 Arlene Blum (P)2018 Blackstone Publishing

What listeners say about Annapurna

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  • Vinckei
  • 16-07-19

An Actual Review (From Someone Who Listened)

First, I want to thank the bad review of this book for letting me know it was probably going to be a decent one. The disingenuous nature of it immediately made me suspicious, and, as it turns out, I was not incorrect.

The fact of the matter is, if you replaced all the references to 'first woman' to 'first American' or 'first (whatever),' the book wouldn't be all that different from a number of others in mountaineering circles. The back-patting and self-congratulation it's being accused of? It's not uncommon. Are there references to the accomplishments of women in mountain climbing throughout the years? Yes, absolutely. That's the point. But it's in the preface, depicting women passionate enough to climb in what is still a largely male-dominated field. And they're worth listing, because, surprising to no one, women were often written off as being incapable of the feats described in this retelling of the 1978 expedition.

Ironically, the review itself encapsulates the very reason the expedition was so important to each of its members.

To be clear: summiting Annapurna I *is* an accomplishment. It is not a walk in the park. Though not as technically challenging as K2, Annapurna I has one of the highest death counts per summit of any mountain on Earth, and the sheer number of avalanches and other hazards that the expedition encounters attests to this. Not only that, in facing it, they did, in fact, prove that women were just as capable of making an extraordinarily difficult climb, something they were generally thought to be unable to manage-- for whatever reason a not-insignificant number of their male peers could think of.

There is no back-patting that isn't earned, or self-congratulatory boasting that somehow goes beyond the realm of reason. There is only 'we did it'-- and they didn't do it without significant losses, or without issue. If one makes it past the preface, it's not long before the story is knee-deep in fighting off swarms of leeches in order to take a powder, and the less-than-glamorous GI upset that so often comes up in these stories. There's bickering, there's bodily betrayals, and the occasional mutiny-- everything you're looking for in a non-fiction account of a trek across Nepal to the summit of Annapurna, it's all there. And it's a wonderful book to listen to.

I'll admit, however, the performance felt a bit dissonant, at times. The narrator wasn't quite as engaging as I might have preferred her to be, and some of the low points felt a little too light-hearted, as a result, but overall it didn't take me out of the story enough to say 'it's bad.' It's still quite listenable, and still, overall, very enjoyable.

So, again: thank you, salty reviewer. I might have passed this book up, had I not read your throw-away review on an otherwise inspiring book. Much as it came with an exceedingly high price, Arlene Blum and the members of her expedition deserve to feel proud of what they've accomplished, without being scolded for some perceived failure to show the 'proper' amount of modesty.

23 people found this helpful

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  • Michelle
  • 18-12-19

Great book

For some weird reason, over the last few months, I've been really interested in stories of mountain climbers. I have absolutely no interest in climbing a mountain myself, but the stories of those who do are quite fascinating. This was the first book I'd actually read on the topic and I feel it was a great introduction to the genre. I've since read Into Thin Air, which is a great book on the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, but these two books aren't really comparable. Annapurna-A woman's place tells the story of the woman's expedition to summit Annapurna. It tells about the hurdles they had to overcome to even get on the thing (being denied a permit because it would ruin the male camaraderie of the climb.....so no you can't join our boy's club) to the hurdles they had while on the mountain (like a tense night spent with avalanches surrounding their little tent). The pace of the book isn't exactly slow, but it's certainly no fast-paced thriller. It was an enjoyable, steady, and enlightening read. It not only makes you happy to live during a time where as women we can laugh at those who tell us "we're not allowed", but it also brings you along through every step their climbing trip, the highs, the lows, and even the tragic.

As for the bad review, I almost turned away from reading this book because of it and I'm glad I eventually ignored it, I figured at worst I could just exchange the credit if I didn't like the book. While I admit that there are extreme feminists out there who make EVERYTHING about identity politics and feel their womanly parts give them special powers, this book is NOT in that same vain.
The events took place in a time where some men (Sir Edmund Hillary) threatened to leave an entire expedition should a single woman be allowed to step foot above 19k feet. These women didn't set out with the mindset of "Oh we're better than men look at what only we can do yada yada yada", but with a "Hey! We're really good too and can do everything a man can so bugger off and let us climb mountains."
The book does have a decidedly female take to the experience because....well...it was an expedition full of women lol. So you will hear about some uniquely female problems (needing tampons at one of the camps) as well as special focus managing their emotions at high altitudes, but those are quick tangents.
As I said, I've only read this book and Into Thin Air and I will say that I loved how it was told from the perspective of and by the leader. I really enjoyed hearing about how she had multiple route options and why she chose the ones she did. Basically, I enjoyed the tactical aspect to the climb as much the climb itself. Something Into Thin Air lacked since it was a guided climb.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and I will be buying the hard copy as well to display on bookshelves. If you like reading about people (women or men) climbing crazy dangerous mountains then get this book.

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  • JS31337
  • 18-05-20

Among the best mountaineering books I've read.

anything that was said and then negative reviews simply isn't true this was a fantastic book lots of detail really gives you the feeling of what they were going through and what it was like on the mountain highly recommend it.

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  • Deborah
  • 09-07-20

BORING START!

I am a woman reviewing this story. I am bored to death with the long introduction and other ramblings at the beginning of this audio book! Seriously, why didn’t you just get into the story? It would have been far more interesting! I have listened to numerous other mountain climbing stories, but you win the prize for the most boring beginning! I’m returning this pronto. No longer interested in wasting my time on this book!

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  • Thissell
  • 17-04-21

Inspiring

Great story telling, you can feel the excitement, anxiety, joys and sorrows. I don’t know anything about climbing and could follow everything. Very minimal technical terms.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-04-21

Great Listen

Although I have never been interesting in climbing. I found the determination, efforts, difficulty , strength and near death these woman went through as a show that woman can achieve whatever they set their minds to.

Glad this book was written. I get tired of male adventure novels.

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  • CGB
  • 08-04-21

couldn't get past the first half hour

I should have known that a book about women climbing a mountain would talk obsessively about women being marginalized in society.

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  • G Eyerman
  • 24-03-21

Well told true story of an adventure of a lifetime

What a great book! It brings back memories of my college mountaineer days. I think it is amazing that these women laid the path for other groups of future women climbers. thanks!

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  • Robert D. Mitchell
  • 14-03-21

Pretty good story ruined by narration

Story kept us in it for the full ten hours. The narration was awful. This should have been read by a more mature woman. The millennial accented narrator was not appropriate especially in sober life and death sections... 'up talking' and jauntiness was off-putting. Not the best climbing story, not the worst.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-01-21

Phenomenal Book

Loved this book and the reader. You are immediately pulled in with accounts of women's accomplishments in climbing history and filled with anticipation to learn about their incredible expedition. I'm thankful for the women who came before me and the path they made for woman today. Truly a great read/listen. If Arlene Blum ever sees this, thank you for you courage, leadership and sharing your experience.

A quote from Charlotte Austin: "The women who walked these glaciers before us have shown us the path, or maybe better yet that we are capable of finding our own"

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  • Matt
  • 09-12-18

Sorry...rather dull

There are far more interesting audio books out there covering this topic. It seems the only reason this one exists is due to the fact the climbing party was all female. I thought this would provide an interesting new angle on a classic tale of survival and endurance...but actually it doesn’t paint a particularly strong picture of female success through adversity....I’m afraid it’s just not interesting to hear endless stories about how difficult the Sherpas were being, or how she constantly questioned her authority and leadership skills.... This was undoubtedly a fantastic achievement....but getting a 9 hour audio book out of it was a stretch.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 13-12-20

I love this audiobook!

This is the third time I've listened to it! What a great story of courage, determination and adventure! Eileen Stevens does a great job of reading it too, and manages to get into character for each of the women. I felt like I was on this adventure with them!
Highly highly recommended!

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  • Ray C
  • 18-04-21

A truly excellent book

A truly excellent book focusing not only on detailed climbing, but also on the complex intergroup and interpersonal issues that arose.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 29-06-20

Brilliant

Amazing 2 have the perspective of a team of women on a 8000 mountain. Whole book is very interesting from dealing with team conflicts to dealing with a dangerous mount . Very empowering and good listen