History / Cultural Studies / Mountaineering


Vertical Margins
Mountaineering and the Landscapes of Neoimperialism
Reuben Ellis


History meets high-altitude adventure

This engaging analysis of twentieth-century imperialism takes early mountaineering beyond the realm of recreation. Vertical Margins sets Halford Mackinder's 1899 climb of Mt. Kenya, Annie Smith Peck's 1908 ascent of Huascaran in Bolivia, and John Baptiste Noel's filming of the 1924 British attempt on Mt. Everest in the larger historical context of American and British foreign policy and neo-imperialism.

Reuben Ellis shows that mountain exploration reached far beyond the motivations of adrenaline-driven adventurers to an aggressive ideology of power and expansion that fed the "New Imperialism"—the end of the era of European empire-building and the beginnings of American dominance in world affairs. With so many mountains at the margins of European and American territorial and economic domains, mountaineering often overlapped with the motivations of empire; the earth's mountains came to be regarded as frontiers open to the full range of political, economic, and personal concerns that drove geographical exploration.

"An interesting and important contribution to the study of exploration and the understanding of mountaineering literature. Vertical Margins combines scholarship and just plain good story telling."—L. Mikel Vause, author of On Mountains and Mountaineers

Reuben Ellis is an experienced mountaineer and professor of English at Prescott College in Prescott, Arizona. He is the editor of Stories and Stone: Writing the Anasazi Homeland and Beyond Borders: The Selected Essays of Mary Austin.

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cover image for "Vertical Margins" by Reuben Elllis, featuring an old photo of mountaineers before a mountain peak.

December 2001
256 pp. 6 x 9
ISBN-10: 0-299-17000-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-299-17000-4
Cloth $55.00 s
ISBN-10: 0-299-17004-7
ISBN-13: 978-0-299-17004-2
Paper $21.95 s

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