Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest

Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest

Hardback

By (author) Wade Davis

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  • Publisher: The Bodley Head Ltd
  • Format: Hardback | 672 pages
  • Dimensions: 156mm x 234mm x 48mm | 1,021g
  • Publication date: 6 October 2011
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1847921841
  • ISBN 13: 9781847921840
  • Illustrations note: ill
  • Sales rank: 68,410

Product description

If the quest for Mount Everest began as a grand imperial gesture, as redemption for an empire of explorers that had lost the race to the Poles, it ended as a mission of regeneration for a country and a people bled white by war. Of the twenty-six British climbers who, on three expeditions (1921-24), walked 400 miles off the map to find and assault the highest mountain on Earth, twenty had seen the worst of the fighting. Six had been severely wounded, two others nearly killed by disease at the Front, one hospitalized twice with shell shock. Three as army surgeons dealt for the duration with the agonies of the dying. Two lost brothers, killed in action. All had endured the slaughter, the coughing of the guns, the bones and barbed wire, the white faces of the dead. In a monumental work of history and adventure, ten years in the writing, Wade Davis asks not whether George Mallory was the first to reach the summit of Everest, but rather why he kept on climbing on that fateful day. His answer lies in a single phrase uttered by one of the survivors as they retreated from the mountain: 'The price of life is death.' Mallory walked on because for him, as for all of his generation, death was but 'a frail barrier that men crossed, smiling and gallant, every day'. As climbers they accepted a degree of risk unimaginable before the war. They were not cavalier, but death was no stranger. They had seen so much that it had no hold on them. What mattered was how one lived, the moments of being alive. For all of them Everest had become an exalted radiance, a sentinel in the sky, a symbol of hope in a world gone mad.

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Author information

An Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society, Wade Davis holds degrees in anthropology and biology and received his Ph.D. in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. Davis is the author of 15 books including The Serpent and the Rainbow, One River, and The Wayfinders. His many film credits include Light at the Edge of the World, an eight-hour documentary series produced for the National Geographic Channel. In 2009 he received the Gold Medal from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society for his contributions to anthropology and conservation, and he is the 2011 recipient of the Explorers Medal, the highest award of the Explorers' Club. In 2012 he will receive the Fairchild Medal for Plant Exploration.

Review quote

"Maybe the prime minister should read it" -- Stephen Frears Guardian "I was enthralled by Wade Davis's Into the Silence, an account of three failed Everest expeditions leading up to the death of Mallory in 1924, which brilliantly places those feats of endurance in the context of British imperialism and the psychological aftermath of the First World War" -- Ben Macintyre The Times "I was captivated. Wade Davis has penned an exceptional book on an extraordinary generation. From the pathos of the trenches to the inevitable tragedies high on Everest this is a book deserving of awards. Monumental in its scope and conception it nevertheless remains hypnotically fascinating throughout. A wonderful story tinged with sadness" -- Joe Simpson, author of Touching the Void "Into the Silence succeeds not only because Davis's research has been prodigious, but because every sentence has been struck with conviction, every image evoked with fierce reverence - for the heartbreaking twilight era, for the magnificent resilience of its survivors, for their mission, for Mallory, for his mountain. An epic worthy of its epic" -- Caroline Alexander, author of The Endurance and The War That Killed Achilles "Into the Silence is a breathtaking triumph. An astonishing piece of research, it is also intensely moving, evoking the courage, chivalry, and sacrifice that drove Mallory and his companions through the war and to ever greater heights" -- William Shawcross, author of The Queen Mother

Flap copy

If the quest for Mount Everest began as a grand imperial gesture, as redemption for an empire of explorers that had lost the race to the Poles, it ended as a mission of regeneration for a country and a people bled white by war. Of the twenty-six British climbers who, on three expeditions (1921-24), walked 400 miles off the map to find and assault the highest mountain on Earth, twenty had seen the worst of the fighting. Six had been severely wounded, two others nearly killed by disease at the Front, one hospitalized twice with shell shock. Three as army surgeons dealt for the duration with the agonies of the dying. Two lost brothers, killed in action. All had endured the slaughter, the coughing of the guns, the bones and barbed wire, the white faces of the dead. In a monumental work of history and adventure, ten years in the writing, Wade Davis asks not whether George Mallory was the first to reach the summit of Everest, but rather why he kept on climbing on that fateful day. His answer lies in a single phrase uttered by one of the survivors as they retreated from the mountain: 'The price of life is death.' Mallory walked on because for him, as for all of his generation, death was but 'a frail barrier that men crossed, smiling and gallant, every day'. As climbers they accepted a degree of risk unimaginable before the war. They were not cavalier, but death was no stranger. They had seen so much that it had no hold on them. What mattered was how one lived, the moments of being alive. For all of them Everest had become an exalted radiance, a sentinel in the sky, a symbol of hope in a world gone mad.