University of Rochester

Historians Chosen for the University of Rochester's Andrew Eiseman Writers Award

December 3, 2010

Two historians, connected by the University of Rochester and their love of climbing, are the winners of the Eiseman Writers Award for their book, Fallen Giants: A History of Himalayan Mountaineering from the Age of Empire to the Age of Extremes.

Stewart Weaver, professor of history and department chair at the University, and Maurice Isserman, who received his doctorate in history from the University in 1979 and is a professor of history at Hamilton College in Clinton, N.Y., are co-authors of this first comprehensive history of Himalayan mountaineering written by professional historians.

The Eiseman Writers Award celebrates writers from western New York who have been published during the previous two calendar years and comes with a $1,000 prize. The award will be presented Friday, Dec. 10, in the Hawkins-Carlson Room in Rush Rhees Library. The event is free and open to the public.

Hailed as an "awe-inspiring work of history and storytelling," Fallen Giants (Yale University Press, 2008) chronicles 250 years of the international quest to climb the world's tallest peaks. "Isserman and Weaver," wrote Bruce Barcott in the New York Times, "brilliantly present the complete picture the political context, the changing social dynamics, the emergence of modern climbing technique without losing sight of the need to entertain. 'Fallen Giants' absolutely brims with vivid characters, from the Duke of the Abruzzi to George Mallory hard men and egotists, saints and scoundrels."

In addition to this latest honor, the authors have earned two other national and international awards for Fallen Giants: the National Outdoor Book Award and the Banff Mountain Book Festival Award.

The Eiseman Award is named after Andrew Eiseman, who graduated from the University in 1979 with a multi-disciplinary degree in performing arts management and continued on to become a program manager for telecom and cable TV companies in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Now in its fifth year, the award has been given to:

  • Biographer James Fleming and poet William Heyen (2006)
  • Novelist Joanna Scott, the Roswell Smith Burrows Professor of English at the University (2007)
  • Fiction writer Susan Williams and nonfiction writer Bill Kauffman (2008)
  • Poet Karla Linn Merrifield and map historian Dr. Seymour Schwartz, Distinguished Alumni Professor of Surgery (2009)

For more on the Eiseman Award, including how to submit nominations for the 2011 award, contact Andrea Weinstein at or (585) 273-1341. To RSVP for the reception following the award ceremony, please email or call 585-275-9887.