Monday, February 10, 2014

Different Leaders, Different Goals

The main difference between Blum and Herzog’s narratives that struck me while reading Annapurna: A Woman’s Place was how different the tone of each author was in terms of describing their leadership and the decisions made over the course of the expedition. Herzog’s narrative emphasized his decisions and the ways he guided the expedition without paying a great deal of attention to the ways that the members of his climbing team might have impacted the choices he made. Blum on the other hand focused heavily on the opinions and influence that her team members had on how she chose to lead and the decisions she made for the group. Blum’s narrative implies that she had a much more team focused approach to her expedition, and she spoke frequently about her desire to have a good team dynamic and her hopes that everyone would get along throughout the course of the expedition.

I think that Blum chose to tell the story of her expedition from a very honest perspective that explored all of the elements that went into completing the expedition from her personal thoughts to the influence of her team to the role of the sherpas. Herzog, on the other hand decided to focus more on the concrete elements of the expedition, spending time describing the more technical climbs rather than group dynamics. For both author’s, each person chosen for the expedition was to occupy a unique and integral role. I felt like Blum allowed the reader to get to know each participant on a personal level that Herzog left out of his book. Herzog focused on practical skills and contributions of each team member, whereas Blum also stressed the importance of understanding the challenges each woman faced, the concerns they had, and the ways this influenced her decisions as a leader.

Both Herzog and Blum had a larger goal in mind; Herzog and his team climbing for France, and Blum and her team climbing more generally for women everywhere. I think this is reflected in their narratives, with Herzog portraying an almost colonialist attitude designed to reflect their desire to “conquer” the mountain, and Blum attempting to show readers the physical and mental ability of women to take part in these expeditions. I don’t think one is better than the other, but rather they had different goals for their books, and their expeditions more broadly.

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