Book Review: Edmund Hillary – A Biography, by Michael Gill

Available in bookshops nationwide.

cv_edmind_hillary_a_biography.jpgAuthor Michael Gill was a long-time friend of Sir Edmund Hillary’s. He accompanied him for over 50 years on many expedition, and was heavily involved in the Himalayan Trust, building schools and hospitals. The Hillary family gave Gill access to private papers and photos and others that had been donated by the family to the Auckland Museum, which enabled Gill to write probably the most in-depth book ever written about one of our national heroes.

This book looks at Sir Ed’s early life and how he became interested in climbing, telling the stories of his numerous attempts at Everest. Excerpts from letters that Sir Ed wrote have been included in this book, tying in the events surrounding them.

I have long been a fan of Sir Ed and have read every book he ever wrote and watched every television and film documentary made about his exploits over many years. He was my hero right through childhood and into adulthood. His feats to me were astounding.  As somebody who is experienced in outdoor adventures, one of the things that stood out to me was the equipment they carried on the early expeditions, and how far outdoor clothing and equipment has come over the years.

Edmund Hillary was not only a climber of Everest, he was an adventurer, a close friend of many, a son, a brother, a husband and a father to his 3 children. The tragedy of his wife Louise and his youngest daughter Belinda dying in a light air craft accident was an event that shocked the nation and the world. His wife Louise had been his rock and the love of his life for 22 years. The shock of her death sent Sir Ed spiralling into deep depression from which he eventually emerges, some years later marrying Peter Mulgrew’s widow, June. Peter Mulgrew was on the Erebus flight alongside others on that ill-fated flight.  Ed and Louise and Peter and June had been lifetime friends.

I was in my happy place reading this book. It is a fabulous book with many wonderful photos and stories never before published,of expeditions Sir Ed was involved in.  He had a very rich and exciting life that only some of us can dream about .

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

Edmund Hillary – A Biography
by Michael Gill
Published by Potton & Burton
ISBN  9780947503383