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The Last of His Kind: The Life and Adventures of Bradford Washburn, America's Boldest Mountaineer (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 16. Juni 2009

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American Brad Washburn had an impact on his protégés and imitators as profound as that of any other adventurer in the twentieth century. Unquestionably regarded as the greatest mountaineer in Alaskan history and as one of the finest mountain photographers of all time, Washburn transformed American attitudes toward wilderness and revolutionized the art of mountaineering and exploration in the great ranges. In The Last of His Kind, National Geographic Adventure contributing editor David Roberts goes beyond conventional biography to reveal the essence of this man through the prism of his extraordinary exploits from New England to Chamonix, the Himalaya to the Yukon.

Washburn's remarkable achievements—including nine first ascents of North American peaks—would stamp him not only as one of a kind, but as one of a kind they don't make anymore. Born June 7, 1910, to a Boston Brahmin family whose roots trace back to the Mayflower, this highly intelligent, impatient, and stubborn iconoclast published books, made a monumental first ascent in the French Alps that would become a touchstone in mountaineering history, and lectured on his adventures—including an address to the National Geographic Society—while still in his teens. In 1935, at the age of twenty-four, while others were turning their attention to the Himalaya, the Harvard-educated Washburn led a three-month journey across what was then the largest remaining unexplored territory in North America—the 6,400 square miles of glaciers and mountains in the frozen heart of Alaska's Saint Elias Range.

In addition to his prowess as a mountaineer and photographer, Washburn was also a renowned surveyor and cartographer, producing maps of little-known terrain—the Grand Canyon, Mt. McKinley, and Mt. Everest—that surpassed those that came before, and several of which remain the standard. He was also a scientist who would take a regional natural-history museum and transform it into one of the outstanding teaching institutions of its kind in the world.

Roberts introduces the family, teachers, friends, colleagues, and rivals who would play important roles in this legendary man's experiences, and re-creates his enthralling journeys to some of the most remote and beautifully wild places on earth. An exciting narrative of mountain climbing in the twentieth century, The Last of His Kind brings into focus Washburn's deeds in the context of the history of mountaineering, and provides a fascinating look at an amazing culture and the influential icon who shaped it.

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

David Roberts is an avid climber and the author of more than twenty books, including The Mountain of My Fear, which was named on National Geographic Adventure's list of the 100 Greatest Adventure Books of All Time. His articles have appeared in National Geographic Adventure, Men's Journal, and Smithsonian, among other publications. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Author David Roberts gives a thorough and fascinating examination of mountaineer Bradford Washburn from his childhood in Massachusetts to his travels around the globe. Washburn was born into a life of plenty never wanting even through the Great Depression. He was properly schooled and initially not much of an athlete, but his love of mountaineering overtook his life. Beginning in the Presidential Range of new Hampshire and countless climbs of Mt. Washington, Washburn is shown to have a natural affinity to the mountains, be it summer or winter. At an early age he was exploring the Alps, outpacing event he most experienced of climbers.

Roberts describes some of the harrowing experiences Washburn and his companions endeavored, most notably in Alaska, where gigantic glaciers, changing moraines, raging rivers and relentless weather tested their abilities. Throughout the book, stories of friendship bonded and tested by accomplishments and setbacks set the motif. Indeed, Washburn was an individualist, but rallied many famous fellow mountain climbers to set record (or `bag' peaks). He was among the first of many to climb McKinley (twice; his second wife being the first woman), K2, Everest and many others. Washburn was also an expert photographer, often balancing heavy photography equipment at the open door of a small airplane to photograph the highest and wildest of peaks in Alaska, noting various routes that would make climbing safer and faster. He was one of the first to use planes to drop food and supplies along a climbing route to ensure the best of gear was available. Also an expert cartographer, Washburn was able to map many areas, including the then unknown St. Elias area in Alaska and large portions of the Grand Canyon.
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Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
If you like your reading excitement based on reality rather than the fantasy world, pick up a copy of The Last Of His Kind: The Life and Adventures of Bradford Washburn, America's Boldest Mountaineer.
Should you not recognize the Washburn name, he was "acclaimed as the greatest mountaineer in Alaskan history. He would be hailed, with the Italian Vittorio Sella, as one of the two finest mountain photographers ever. As a cartographer, he produced maps of Mt. McKinley, Mr. Everest, the Grand Canyon, and other regions...." At the age of 28 he took over the near-to-dying New England of Natural History and boosted it to become the renowned Boston Museum of Science.
Washburn was, indeed, the last of his kind, and we're privileged to read about his achievements in this comprehensive biography, which includes extensive materials gleaned from the mountaineer's diaries kept during each of his expeditions.
Extraordinary even as a youth Washburn was intrigued by the outdoors, its magnitude, and challenges. His first published piece appeared when he was 9, "Fishing: What A Boy Thinks." While at Groton he made a collection for his biology teacher - all the ferns (over 30 variations) that were found within a mile of the school. By the age of 16 he had climbed Mont Blanc after which he reached the top of the Matterhorn. Thus, at that young age he had more Alpine experience than the vast majority of American climbers at any age. Even greater achievements lay before him.
As we know courage comes in many forms and it beat strongly in Washburn's heart as he came within a hair's breadth of death several times.
An acclaimed writer of mountaineering David Roberts has crafted an excellent biography, an appropriate remembrance of a remarkable man.
- Gail Cooke
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.0 von 5 Sternen 55 Rezensionen
23 von 25 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Leaves the Reader With More Questions than Answers 30. Mai 2009
Von Fairbanks Reader - Bonnie Brody - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
I did not like this book. While it portends to be a biography of the great adventurer and climber, Bradford Washburn, it contains more information about other climbers and the history and politics of the climbing world, than it contains information about Washburn. I have read other books by Roberts that I liked, especially On the Ridge Between Life and Death: A Climbing Life Reexamined so I was disappointed that this book does not come up to that caliber. I was also chagrined that Mr. Roberts seems so interested in climbers' pedigrees. If a climber went to a particular ivy league school or came from old money, Mr. Roberts is sure to let the reader know. If the climber is just a regular Joe, all we get is his name.

The book is filled with minutiae about Bradford Washburn, giving the reader bits and pieces about his life without any feel for him as a person. I know that he was a climber, adventurer, photographer, cartographer, public speaker and museum director. I know that he was determined and stubborn. I know that he was married for many years to Barbara Washburn and that they had three children. Other than that, I can't say as I came away from this book knowing any more than that about him. I wanted to know what he was like as a person. What made him tick. What was his personality like. He does seem self-centered but Roberts never goes into that.

Roberts describes him as the premier climber of Alaska and the Yukon. Having lived in Alaska for over 40 years I can attest to Bradford Washburn being an icon.

If the book was edited so that it focused solely on Bradford Washburn, it would be much better and about 150 pages shorter. I think more work should have been done into the personality of Washburn. Why was he so awkward around women? What was his stubbornness all about? What drew him to Alaska? What was his family life like as a child? What was his family life like as a man? These are all questions that a good biography should answer. None of these are satisfactorily examined in this book.
8 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen An American Original... 20. Juni 2009
Von HMS Warspite - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
"The Last of His Kind", by Dave Roberts, promises to be a good read. Its subject, Brad Washburn, was a precocious, highly successful American mountaineer who specialized in first ascents in the wilds of Alaska in the first half of the 20th Century, while pioneering aerial outdoor photography and while directing what became the Boston Museum of Science. The author is himself a highly competent and experienced mountaineer, and a practiced writer, who had a long friendship with Washburn.

Roberts' approach is chronological, walking the reader quickly up through Washburn's New England youth, his initial hiking experiences in New Hampshire's White Mountains, and his introduction as a teenager to mountaineering in the Alps, before plunging into a series of expeditions in the wilds of Alaska. An older Washburn enjoyed a long twilight as a senior mentor of the American mountaineering community.

Washburn, like his contemporary Eric Shipton, specialized in exploring blank spots on the map. For this reviewer, the best portions of the book are the hair-raising narratives of Washburn's traverses of the Wrangel-St. Elias, Chugach, and Alaska ranges, days to weeks away from outside assistance. Washburn's adventures on Mount McKinley (Denali to Alaska residents) are a highlight of this biography.

This book is less than fully satisfying as a biography. Roberts omits footnotes and, less forgivably, maps and pictures. The narrative has many breathless, sometimes gossipy anecdotes; Roberts cannot resist exploring sidetrails of mountaineering history that have little to do with Washburn's life. Oddly, Roberts seems reluctant to provide much insight into Washburn himself. For example, he wonders aloud why Washburn was never invited on any of the Himalayian expeditions of his day. A reader familiar with the climbing fraternity might guess that Washburn was incapable of working for anyone but himself; Roberts does not answer his own question.

"The Last of His Kind" is highly recommended to fans of mountaineering and of Alaska adventure; the average reader may find the narrative and the subject harder to appreciate.
7 von 8 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen A lively narrative embedded in a book with some odd authorial choices 28. Juni 2009
Von Arthur Digbee - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
In this biography, Roberts tells us the story of Brad Washburn's youth and career as a leading mountaineer in Alaska. This fact alone makes it an odd biography - - Washburn defined his main accomplishment as the Boston Museum of Science, and Roberts only touches on those decades of his subject's life. Moreover, Roberts believes that Washburn's main accomplishments came in the fields of mountain photography and cartography. Inexplicably, this biography talks about these photos and maps, but it doesn't include any of them. Roberts lovingly describes Washburn's Denali and Everest maps, and many of his photographs, but we never see any of them.

In addition to those strange choices of focus, the main narrative is regularly distracted by stories about mountaineers who are not Washburn. Even if Washburn was not included on an expedition, or if he declined to go along, we might nonetheless get a story about it if the expedition included some of his friends. Many of these stories concern the Andes or Himalaya, where Washburn did not climb. It's difficult to understand what this material is doing in this book other than providing Roberts an opportunity to use (or reuse) some material.

Finally, the last two chapters relate a series of anecdotes, mostly about people around Washburn (including the author). Roberts claims Washburn as a mentor but the contacts that he reports do not seem deep, or personal enough to warrant such a claim. Interestingly, Roberts' relationship with Washburn's wife Barbara are reported in much more detail and make a more convincing case for a mentor-protégé relationship.

So, there are a lot of authorial choices here that struck me as odd. But if we look just at the Washburn narrative that Roberts gives us, it's a lively and interesting read. After a while, accounts of successful mountain climbs can get tedious, and the narrative eventually has to struggle with that fact. Until then, however, it's a good read for your own adventures. In fact, I read it in a tent in the Rockies, which was appropriate enough.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
2.0 von 5 Sternen Like undertaking a grueling expedition. 26. September 2009
Von James R. Hoadley - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I really wanted to like this book. The main character, Bradford Washburn, was from all accounts a truly remarkable and exciting individual. His mountaineering adventures are amazing and will never be replicated. His life story sounds like the script for an adventure film. Born into a wealthy Boston Brahmin family and educated at Harvard, Bradford Washburn was a mountain climber and adventurer from a very early age. His exploits sound fantastical even today; conquering the Alps at the age of sixteen, climbing and surveying the great unclimbed peaks of North America not long after that, Brad was truly an ambitious spirit and more than a bit of a thrill seeker.

Unfortunately, the writing style of this book makes it less like the exhilaration of summiting a frozen mountaintop, and more like a long, slow, grueling trudge up a volcanic cinder cone. The large volume of details and backstories are certainly added by the author in an attempt to give a full accounting of Washburn's epic life, but in the end they wind up clogging up the pages with needless detail and distracting from the main story. In the process, we manage to do something that I am certain would have been impossible to do if we had met Brad Washburn in real life; we grow bored with him.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen A book with no takeaway, no focus, and in the end no purpose. 20. September 2009
Von tim can - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
Bradford Washborn should have made a fascinating read- certainly i expected it to be giving the larger than life reputation but instead i found myself moving from casual interst in spots to areas so dull I thought my eyes would roll back in my head. Worst most of the book seems to be focused on the people about the main character rather than the character himself. It is sort of like trying to learn about a baseball pitcher by studying only the outfield. You gain some insights, but hardly anything truly enlightening.

How can a man claim Washburn as a mentor and yet seemingly know so little about the man besides what he has done? There seems to be little real insight into the heart and soul of Washburn. I felt like I got to know his wife far better than I got to know him.

Additionally, how can book focus on someone who was famed not only as a mountaineer but as a pioneer in photography contain not a single photo? This is just another example of why I remain baffled by the lack of focus in the book on the subject of the book - Washburn himself.

While this book will be eagerly pciked up by those who already have an interest I doubt given the shortcomings mentioned that it can succeed beyond the mountaineering crowd and this is the real shame - certainly such a talented writer could have given this story the appeal it needed to enthrall all readers, not just those who already know soemthing of Washburn
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