Brotherhood of the Rope
The Biography of Charles Houston
- ISBN: 978-1-898573-71-5250 pages
- Bernadette McDonald
- Publication date
- 1 Jun 2007
Is it not better to take risks than die within from rot? Is it not better to change one’s life completely than to wait for the brain to set firmly and irreversibly in a way of life and one environment? I think it is ... taking risks, not for the sake of danger alone, but for the sake of growth, is more important than any security one can buy or inherit. – Charles Houston
It was the failed summit attempt and a failed rescue in the Himalaya that brought Charles Houston MD fame and adulation in the mountaineering world. His leadership of the American K2 expedition of 1953 is still celebrated as the embodiment of all that is right and good in the mountains.
Houston, a doctor from New England, became a leading authority in high altitude ailments and artificial heart research, advising the US government, military and academia. He made an unparalleled contribution to mountain medicine, building some of the first artificial heart prototypes in his garage and playing a key part in Kennedy’s 1960s Peace Corps initiatives in India.
In Brotherhood of the Rope, Boardman Tasker Prize winning author Bernadette McDonald traces the development of an American hero. This is the biography of a well-heeled New England medical man who excelled at expedition leadership and whose experience in the mountains helped his research into high altitude medical matters during his long and varied career as a doctor. Houstons’s mountain adventures, the ups and downs of his varied medical career and the associated challenges of family life are related in a candid biography that touches on many aspects of twentieth-century affairs.
Bernadette McDonald is the author of ten mountaineering books, including the multi-award-winning Freedom Climbers (2011). Among its international awards, Freedom Climbers won the Grand Prize at the Banff Mountain Book Festival, the Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature and the American Alpine Club’s H. Adams Carter Literary Award. Her other mountaineering titles include Tomaž Humar (2008), Brotherhood of the Rope: The Biography of Charles Houston (2007), Keeper of the Mountains: The Elizabeth Hawley Story (2012) and Alpine Warriors (2015). McDonald’s books have been translated into eight languages, and her international awards include Italy’s ITAS Prize (2010) and India’s Kekoo Naoroji Award for Mountain Literature (2008, 2009 and 2011). She has also received the Alberta Order of Excellence (2010), the Summit of Excellence Award (2007) and the King Albert Award for international leadership in mountain culture and environment (2006). She was the founding vice-president of Mountain Culture at the Banff Centre and served as director of the Banff mountain festivals from 1988 to 2006.
- Title: Brotherhood of the Rope
- Subtitle: The Biography of Charles Houston
- Author: Bernadette McDonald
- Imprint: Bâton Wicks
- ISBN: 978-1-898573-71-5
- Rights: UK & Commonwealth
- Publication date: June 2007
- Edition: First
- Format: Hardback
- Size: 235mm x 155mm
- Extent: 250 pages
- Weight: 550g
- Retail price: £16.99
Charlie Houston achieved fame as both a physician and a mountain climber. His contributions to the medical profession and his expeditions to K2 and Nanda Devi are the outstanding highlights of his career. I know him as a person who radiates curiosity, joie de vivre and compassion, that characteristic described by His Holiness the Dalai Lama as “the foundation of our unity”. Charlie Houston is an extraordinary human being, whose life story will inspire all who read it. – Reinhold Messner
The author’s extensive use of Charles Houston’s own spoken words makes the book serve as an oral as well as a written history. By the end, we feel as though we’ve taken part in a long, deeply affectionate and honest conversation between friends, who, like all good storytellers create a world that somehow seems richer – both brighter and darker – than our everyday life. – Katie Ives, Alpinist Magazine