First published in 1956, The Ascent of Rum Doodle quickly became established as mountaineering classic. As an outrageously funny spoof about the ascent of a 40,000-and-a-half-foot peak, many thought it inspired by the 1953 conquest of Everest. But Bowman had drawn on the flavour and tone of earlier adventures, of Bill Tilman and his 1937 account of the Nandi Devi expedition. The book's central and unforgettable character, Binder, is one of the finest creations in comic literature.
©1989 W. E. Bowman (P)2010 Random House Audiobooks
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By S Anthony on 01-02-17

Very good entertainment

A very rewarding book. So well written. Flawless deadpan narration by Terry Wale who absolutely 'gets' everything about this story. Charmingly, the main character misunderstands almost everything that happens. Great humour.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By JenJen on 05-08-15

Classic British humour of a bygone age

Would you listen to The Ascent of Rum Doodle again? Why?

Probably, it was a really easy listen enjoyable romp featuring the unique 'Britishness' of the early 20th century and is not afraid to laugh at itself. If I was in need of a very silly, funny and under it all, heartwarming tale that is not taxing to the mind, doesn't make you think too much this would be my first choice. I can see myself listening to this again while I work and scaring the horses laughing.

Would you recommend The Ascent of Rum Doodle to your friends? Why or why not?

It would really depend on the friend. To be clear, this is not up everybody's street. But if a friend shared my enjoyment of this type of comedy rooted in classic Britishness then absolutely I would recommend.

What three words best describe Terry Wale and Bill Bryson ’s voice?

Clear, fun and very british. I keep going on about this Britishness thing and even though I am British myself and live in England what I am referring to is the overblown stereotype of early 20th century, public school educated with RP English accents. The reading brought every bit of that out and gave a life to the story that would have been lost if I was reading the book myself.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

I am not sure at all that this book would work as a film. But if it did I think it would be:Do YOU have a fiancee?

Any additional comments?

I heard about this book through Radio 4 book of the week. The story and comments it received on the show grabbed my interest. I started hoping for a silly romp full of classic British humour and I got just that. Think Carry on film without the adult humour and smuttiness.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Isle of New York on 06-02-14

Hilarious. Definitely a find, not to be missed.

What made the experience of listening to The Ascent of Rum Doodle the most enjoyable?

This book is a brilliant send up of mountaineering memoirs or, indeed, any pompous memoirs by adventurers to exotic places. The characters are hilariously eccentric, the story is replete with recurring jokes and silly (but worthwhile!) digressions, and the prose is exquisite. Even the place names are funny. You can tell it was a labor of love -- W.E. Bowman must have thrown everything he had into this book ad honed it to perfection.

Who was your favorite character and why?

It's an ensemble work, so having to pick a favorite character is like having to pick a favorite member of Monty Python. They're all quite droll, especially the leader of the group (nicknamed "Binder").

What about Terry Wale and Bill Bryson ’s performance did you like?

The narrator is superb -- he does a deadpan, stiff upper lip tone perfectly, injecting just the right tone of gravity to make the account absurdly funny. It's a great performance. I'd rather listen to him doing this book than attend most Broadway shows.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There are many laugh out loud moments, e.g. when "Jungle," the perpetually lost navigator, is unable to find his way through London to the group's initial meeting. The recurring jokes do verge on repetitive at times, but it's a sustained and suspenseful narrative, and it's not long. It's well worth the time invested.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Michael on 27-02-18

The funniest book you’ve never heard of

This book is one of the funniest clever books I’ve ever read. My parents read it to me as a child and finding it in print again has been amazing.

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