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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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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.

4 people found this helpful

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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!

2 people found this helpful

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Great Account

Epic adventure re counting the highs and lows of this history making mountain ascent. Highly recommended.

1 person found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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One of the best climbing books

This description of the female conquest of Annapurna is a cut above the rest. The narration of what some of the individuals thought, felt and contemplated during the preparation and the actual climb, in addition to all the actual description of their climbing gave it an additional perspective that is often lacking in these mountaineering books. It provided me with valuable insights into the women's personalities and made value this book more than others

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Girl power

Fantastic insight into the world of mountaineering.
The stories of struggles, resilience, elation and gut wrenching sadness.
Brilliant!
Thank you girls for showing what women can do!

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good read

great read. tense and informative detailed logs 9f the thought processes during the administration phase of the exhibition and changing environment encountered.

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Written for women about women

I really wanted to enjoy listening to this, I particularly enjoy books on mountaineering. The author bangs the woman drum constantly, woman this, woman that, woman under represented, you get the picture. Got to chapter 2 before I called it a day, so I did try. If you want a feminist read, then this is the book for you. Not for me I’m afraid!

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A powerful story of triumph and tragedy

The underlying gender difficulties don't appear to have changed much in the last 40+ years which makes it all the more incredible what was achieved by Arlene and the team. A great and inspiring tale, thank you.

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One of the best I've listened to

I've listened to plenty of endurance/adventure stories. This was one of the best. Great balance of details and suspense, and interesting view of things from an all-female climbing team, without ever falling into an us vs them narrative. Wonderful narration too

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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.

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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.

6 people found this helpful

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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!

5 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.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Tatyana Drotenko
  • 24-09-21

Boring long introduction

Why would an author choose to spoil the book in the first 10 minutes? I don't like reading the book when I was just told what happens throughout the book. No intrigue left.
Then the feminist spiel and political ideas in the long and boring introduction made me give up on this book altogether.
But I do appreciate the author introducing that upfront, so whoever doesn't want to listen to a story based on political ideas don't waste the time. Thank you for that.
Narration was good (from the first 10-minutes I stuck around)

2 people found this helpful

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  • Barry Reese
  • 29-05-21

Politics and climbing do not mix

Wow. Such a dysfunctional attempt. Drama everywhere. Bad decisions. Throwing dead people under the bus. And a paragraph copied from Herzog does not warrant putting him in the description. This is borderline plagiarism. With the truncated title in the description, I thought it was his book at first. I love climbing stories, but this author should have received more scrutiny.

1 person found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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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.

1 person found this helpful

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  • TLCB
  • 31-12-20

Great story, needs a different narrator

Generally I liked the narrator's voice but she seemed to always be reading with a smile that felt inappropriate for this genre. A voice with more confidence and determination would have fit the subject matter and people much better. That said, a great book and a great story full of challenges and it made me supremely happy for the accomplishments and extremely sad that in 2020 we are still having these inane conversations about where a woman belongs and what she is capable of every day.

1 person found this helpful