River Deep Mountain High

By Emery, Michael | The Birmingham Post (England), October 28, 2000 | Go to article overview

River Deep Mountain High


Emery, Michael, The Birmingham Post (England)


Michael Emery reviews an intriguing account of the mapping of the Indian sub-continent and Ross Reyburn looks at three books on the legendary climber George Mallory's final doomed Everest attempt.

If asked to name the world's highest mountain most of us would probably give the correct answer but mispronounce its name. Mount Everest is, of course, the world's highest peak but it is not pronounced Ever-rest as in cleverest, but Eve-rest. And it is named after an appallingly cantankerous British colonel whose work led to its discovery and whose family had always pronounced its name as Eve-rest.

This and many other obscure but interesting facts are to be found in John Keay's The Great Arc (HarperCollins, pounds 14.99). The author is one of our most talented narrative historians and an authoritative voice on the British in India. This is Keay's fifth book about various aspects of Indian history and is as heroic an example of niche publishing as you are likely to find as one cannot imagine who will buy it apart from a few historians and cartographers.

The book deals with the mapping of India, and although maps and navigation are things we tend to take for granted nowadays, when even humble family saloons come equipped with satellite navigation systems, in 1800 finding your way around was a matter of life or death.

At that time, even though the British were well established in India, no reliable maps existed and the task of mapping the sub-continent fell to an illusive genius called William Lambton. Begun in 1800, the Great Indian Arc of the Meridian was the longest measurement of the earth's surface ever to have been attempted. Its 1,600 miles of inch perfect survey took nearly 50 years, cost more lives than most contemporary wars, and involved equations more complex than any in the pre-computer age.

Rightly hailed as 'one of the most stupendous works in the history of science' , it was also one of the most perilous. Through hill and jungle, flood and fever, enduring the most dreadful privations, an intrepid band of surveyors carried the arc from the southern tip of India up into the frozen wastes of the Himalayas.

Lambton, a kindly and endearing man about whom little is known, conceived the idea; Colonel George Everest, an impossible martinet, completed it. Both found the technical difficulties horrendous. With instruments weighing half a ton, their observations had often to be conducted from flimsy platforms 90 feet above the ground or from mountain peaks enveloped in blizzard. Malaria wiped out whole survey parties, tiger and scorpions also took their toll.

Everest suffered from malaria for the rest of his life and described the grizzly symptoms in his journal. 'Dreadful rheumatic pains in my bones, fever, loss of appetite, indigestion, intestines totally deranged, stomach totally powerless, my strength entirely gone, my whole system apparently destroyed and forever undermined.' This was not written from the safety of a hospital bed but in his little tent somewhere in the Indian wilderness. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

River Deep Mountain High
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.