The World Beneath Their Feet by Scott Ellsworth is one of the most compelling international dramas of the 20th century and an unforgettable saga of survival, technological innovation, and breathtaking human physical achievement-all set against the backdrop of a world headed toward war.
While tension steadily rose between European powers in the 1930s, a different kind of battle was raging across the Himalayas. Contingents from Great Britain, Nazi Germany, and the United States had set up rival camps at the base of the mountains, hoping to become recognized as the fastest, strongest, and bravest climbers in the world.
Carried on across nearly the entire sweep of the Himalayas, this contest involved not only the greatest mountain climbers of the era but politicians and millionaires, world-class athletes and bona fide eccentrics, scientists, and generals, obscure villagers, and national heroes. Centered in the 1930s, with one brief, shining postwar coda, the contest was a struggle between hidebound traditionalists and unknown innovators, which featured new techniques and equipment, unbelievable courage, and unparalleled physical achievement valor. And death. One Himalayan peak alone, Nanga Parbat in Kashmir, claimed twenty-five lives in less than three years.
Climbing the Himalayas was the Greatest Generation’s moonshot–one shrouded in the onset of war, interrupted by it, and then fully accomplished. A gritty, fascinating history that promises to enrapture fans of Hampton Side, Jon Krakauer, and Laura Hillenbrand, The World Beneath Their Feet brings this forgotten story back to life.
Scott Ellsworth is the New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Game, the winner of the 2016 PEN/ESPN Award for Literary Sports Writing. He has written about American history for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. Formerly a historian at the Smithsonian Institution, he is the author of Death in a Promised Land, his groundbreaking account of the 1921 Tulsa race riot. He lives with his wife and twin sons in Ann Arbor, where he teaches at the University of Michigan.