Yeti: An Abominable History by Graham Hoyland - review by Patrick Scrivenor

Patrick Scrivenor

Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them

Yeti: An Abominable History


William Collins 310pp £20 order from our bookshop

Among much else, Graham Hoyland is a mountaineer. As such he has no doubt spent many vivid waking moments wondering if that little flake of ice will support his weight as he swings out over the abyss. His approach to matters of fact is, as a consequence, robustly practical. The first 169 pages of his book weigh up the evidence for and against the yeti. The remaining 141 pages do the same for other ‘cryptids’, such as Bigfoot, Nessie and even UFOs. On all counts he enters a firm verdict of not proven.

It must immediately be said that, socially, the yeti is a cut above Bigfoot. We associate the yeti with old-school Brits roaming the Himalayas in tweed breeks and stout boots, smoking pipes and cracking jokes about Ovid. That’s class. Bigfoot is the territory of rednecks in pick-ups and baseball caps. Both ‘creatures’ are vanishingly unlikely to exist.

And yet people believe that they do exist. Fervently. Hoyland reminds us that human beings are prone to believe myths, and those of the yeti and Bigfoot – not to mention Nessie – have been bolstered by much fraudulence and trickery.

The photograph that did most to

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