Brotherhood of the Rope

The Biography of Charles Houston

  • 256 pages
  • Mountaineers Books
  • 978-1-59485-067-7
  • Apr 13, 2007

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* Drawn from extensive interviews with Houston and full access to his letters and personal journals
* Historic photos from Houston's Himalayan expeditions, Peace Corps leadership in India, pioneering high-altitude medicine research, and more
* Foreword by Bill Moyers, introduction by Tom Hornbein
* Includes DVD documentary-with historical film footage-of the epic American attempt of K2 in 1953, and the resulting rescue that remains one of mountaineering's most harrowing stories

It was a failed summit attempt and a failed rescue in the Himalaya that brought Charles Houston, M.D., fame and adulation in the mountaineering world. His leadership of the K2 expedition of 1953 is still celebrated as the embodiment of all that is right and good in the mountains.

In Brotherhood of the Rope, Bernadette McDonald traces the development of an American hero. Houston is a mountaineer whose groundbreaking medical experiments on altitude and the human body helped calibrate the nation's WWII air-assault strategy and shorten the war. This is the man personally recruited by Sergeant Shriver to lead the first Peace Corps programs in India; the friend whom Bill Moyers credits with saving his life; the physician who built some of the first artificial-heart prototypes in his garage. Houston is still a leading authority in high-altitude medicine, and serves as a mentor for troubled teens.


  • 256 pages
  • Mountaineers Books
  • 978-1-59485-067-7
  • Apr 13, 2007

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