'Is it not better to take risks than die within from rot? Is it not better to change one's life completely than to wait for the brain to set firmly and irreversibly in a way of life and one environment? I think it is ...taking risks, not for the sake of danger alone, but for the sake of growth, is more important than any security one can buy or inherit.' - Charles Houston It was the failed summit attempt and a failed rescue in the Himalaya that brought Charles Houston MD, 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. Houston, a doctor from New England, became a leading authority in high-altitude ailments and artificial heart research, advising the government, military and academia. He made an unparalleled contribution to mountain medicine, building some of the first artificial-heart prototypes in his garage and playing a key part in Kennedy's 1960s Peace Corps initiatives in India. In Brotherhood of the rope, Bernadette McDonald traces the development of an American hero. This is the biography of a well-heeled New England medical man who excelled at expedition leadership and whose experience in the mountains helped his research into high-altitude medical matters during his long and varied career as a doctor. Houstons's mountain adventures, the ups and downs of his varied medical career and the associated challenges of family life are related in a candid biography that touches on many aspects of twentieth-century affairs.