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My Father, Frank: Unresting Spirit of Everest [Kindle Edition]

Tony Smythe , Doug Scott
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Frank Smythe’s mountaineering achievements in the decade before the Second World War became a part of climbing history. His intensive Alpine climbing, followed by two Himalayan expeditions — to Kangchenjunga in 1930 and success the following year on Kamet, the highest summit then reached — became the prelude to Everest. And in 1933 on that great mountain, climbing alone and without supplementary oxygen he got to within 820 feet of the top, a record height before efforts were resumed post-war and Everest was climbed in 1953. And as a superb Himalayan finale, in 1937 he returned to the Indian Garhwal to climb difficult peaks up to 24,000 feet in a rapid lightweight style. The expeditions were central to his lifetime’s work as a writer and photographer — 27 books and albums, together with numberless newspaper and magazine articles, intensive lecturing, radio broadcasts and a film. It was an output that made him a celebrity, a rare feat in the days before television and the internet. He had tens of thousands of readers and his name was familiar to perhaps millions of the general public. It was an incredible career, especially since he died at the early age of 48 after a serious illness in India. Frank Smythe was resolute in keeping his home life private, and few details of it emerged in his writings. It was a turbulent life, even from earliest childhood, and remained so, with ambition and impatience almost overwhelming him at times, and eventually this volatile mix, apart from alienating some more traditional members of the Alpine Club, would lead to the break-up of his marriage. Yet when he was among hills he became tranquil and inspired. Some fifty years after his death in 1949 one of his three sons, Tony, decided to write a full account of his father’s life, an extraordinary story he believed was important historically and well worth telling. This book is the result. ‘This book is timely, well researched and written with the authority of a committed climber. The reader will be watching to see just how objective Frank’s son will be and I can only compliment Tony Smythe on dealing with all the major events in his father’s life in the most even-handed way. I found the quarrel between Smythe and Graham Brown one of the most interesting sections of the book for Tony’s description of the climbing is riveting and his analysis of the disagreements masterful. The reader is left gripped … The book does not lack humour either, and I found myself smiling, sometimes laughing out loud.’ Doug Scott ‘Frank could obviously be an awkward bloke, but I’m growing fond of him! Hugely impressed, a huge piece of work and very well written.’ Steve Dean ‘Just received the second part of your magnificent book — it makes fine reading … All those years of incredible research with interesting findings have paid off … I was amazed about the number of accidents and illnesses he suffered in his short life.’ Richard Smythe (brother)


Product Description

Review

'This book is timely, well researched and written with the authority of a committed climber. The reader will be watching to see just how objective Frank's son will be and I can only compliment Tony Smythe on dealing with all the major events in his father's life in the most even-handed way. I found the quarrel between Smythe and Graham Brown one of the most interesting sections of the book for Tony's description of the climbing is riveting and his analysis of the disagreements masterful. The reader is left gripped - The book does not lack humour either, and I found myself smiling, sometimes laughing out loud.' --Doug Scott

'Frank could obviously be an awkward bloke, but I'm growing fond of him! Hugely impressed, a huge piece of work and very well written.' --Steve Dean

'Just received the second part of your magnificent book - it makes fine reading - All those years of incredible research with interesting findings have paid off - I was amazed about the number of accidents and illnesses he suffered in his short life ' --Richard Smythe (brother).

'Frank could obviously be an awkward bloke, but I'm growing fond of him! Hugely impressed, a huge piece of work and very well written.' --Steve Dean

'Just received the second part of your magnificent book - it makes fine reading - All those years of incredible research with interesting findings have paid off - I was amazed about the number of accidents and illnesses he suffered in his short life ' --Richard Smythe (brother).

About the Author

Tony Smythe was born in 1934. After leaving school he joined the RAF, serving for eight years as a pilot, flying Canberras and Javelins before resigning to devote more time to climbing and travelling. He made numerous journeys, climbs and expeditions, giving lectures to schools and societies about his experiences in the Alps, Eastern Europe and Russia, Canada and Alaska, the Himalayas and South America. In later years he became a potter, making hand-thrown tableware on a wheel at his workshop in Oxfordshire before moving to the Lake District, where he could indulge his passion for paragliding more intensively. To see more of Scotland he set about completing the Munros, summiting the last in 2005, just 50 years after the first. He is the author of Rock Climbers in Action in Snowdonia, a 'cult' book of the 1960s jointly produced with his photographer friend, John Cleare, and has written extensively for journals and magazines about his adventures. He is married, and he and his wife have a son, a daughter, and four grandchildren.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 9071 KB
  • Print Length: 391 pages
  • Publisher: Vertebrate Digital (28 Oct. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00G6KBMRS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #467,396 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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4.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping read 16 Dec. 2013
Format:Hardcover
To all of us of a certain age Frank Smythe was one of our boyhood heroes along with Shipton
and Tilman. This book dispels some of the myths which grew up about our hero.

It is very well written and contains many surprises about the prewar mountaineering
scene. Above all it is scrupulously researched and presented honestly in a very balanced
manner which must have been difficulty considering the author is the son of our hero.

It is hair raising to realise that many of his climbs were done without crampons, involving a huge amount of step cutting. Only once in his sadly relatively short life did he use a piton for protection and then he thought he was cheating! What would he thought of all those fixed ropes on Everest.

This book compares very favourably with all the literature currently available on modern
mountaineering achievements.

Well worth the read!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The legend of Frank Smythe 11 Feb. 2014
By RMCT
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What a great addition to mountaineering literature. Frank Smythe was a pioneering climber and a prolific author who was at the vanguard of pre-war climbing, along with Shipton and Tilman. Written by his son Tony, this book gives an extremely balanced view. It must be extremely difficult to write an unbiased and even biographer of your own father, but I feel that Tony Smythe has achieved this. He doesn't hide away from his flaws, but also tells the tale of his achievements too.

It's hard to know what impact the second world war had on the climbing careers of people such as Frank Smythe, Eric Shipton, Bill Tilman and Bill Murray, amongst others. It would appear that achievements may have been even greater and the development of climbing and mountaineering wouldn't have stalled.

Lovely book
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put this book down. 15 Dec. 2013
Format:Hardcover
Tony Smythe's wonderful biography of his father serves to define and place in historical context, this strange and enigmatic man who is a major figure in the history of British climbing and in the story of Everest.
Thoroughly researched, Tony Smythe presents a superbly balanced account of Frank Smythe's short life, both in the mountains and in a domestic context. It tackles the difficult emotional struggles Smythe encountered and outlines his superb achievements both in The Alps and the Himalayas. This is a biography that has been eagerly awaited and the wait has been well worth it. Beautifully written, this is the finest mountaineering biography we have read for many years.
My Father, Frank: Unresting Spirit of Everest
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scales the heights and plumbs the depths 19 Dec. 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a book that is indeed about a famous mountaineer but it is far more than that. Tony Smythe has written a most unusual, highly readable and entertaining book about a tortured soul who achieves greatness. The beautifully described antics and adventures of an accomplished climber are but a foil to the real meat of the book which is an honest and yet sympathetic forensic dissection of Frank Smythe's true character. Tony, his son, pulls no punches but is not at all interested in a vacuous trashing of a reputation or rebellious daubings on headstones. The author is unfailingly
direct and fair and this allows the reader to hold up a mirror to their own decent impulses and darkest desires. This book is 5 stars all the way!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Mehta
Format:Hardcover
I enjoyed immensely reading about the life of Frank Smythe, My Father, Frank by his son Tony Smythe who has painted him human, warts and all. Hero he was and remains to me, but the FS of Tony's book is one with whom I can relate better. For me he has come through not merely a principled man, fully confident and heroic in the domain of mountains as nomads are in their passion and familiar surroundings ; as back in the plains, though universally admired, he was in the midst of people whom he could relate only sparingly, unlike those that were linked to him in trust at the end of a rope. Clearly he was a different person in these two worlds, yet always a loner. He died young, but achieved so much in life, as mountaineer, writer, explorer, botanist, yet it seems he harboured an inner turmoil for a lot that remained in him unfulfilled. He seemed to know that greatness had touched him, yet his heart remained in constant despair in a sense of incompleteness. That made him restless. Yet, in reading between the lines , I am left with a suspicion that despite his aloofness he longed to know his young sons better, to take them to the mountains with him, to feel the joy of recognition of his undeniable greatness, as seen through their eyes for the father they little knew. Maybe that remained the one great unfulfilled aspect of his life. The author's research and attempt to understand and to get to know his father rings truer than whatever I may imagine. It is a very fine book on the life of a wonderful, talented and among the greatest mountain personalities of all time.

Meher H Mehta, FRGS
Former Vice President, The Himalayan Club, Calcutta
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book 17 Dec. 2013
Format:Hardcover
Frank Smythe was hugely influential to many of us. His books reached out beyond the usual climbing audience, and inspired many to take up this enthralling sport. Tony Smythe has done a superb job of writing his father's biography, and his balanced treatment of this sometimes difficult character has revealed Frank Smythe to us at last.
Well worth buying, reading and keeping.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars my father frank
Excellent read , bringing a very personal view of an interesting individual. Interesting to non climbing readers. Thank you Tony Smythe.
Published 5 months ago by Stephen fletcher
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Late arriving, but an interesting read.
Published 6 months ago by Mr Donald H B Andrews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
purchased for my husband who rates it as a wonderfully written book. Would recommend to all 'walking/adventure/biography' readers
Published 10 months ago by theodore
5.0 out of 5 stars A Revealing Book About One of the Great Mountaineers of His Age.
I have read several accounts of Frank Smythe's climbs, but not yet had
the opportunity to read any of his books. This biography of Frank is
written by one of his sons. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Kept me reading! Interesting content. Well written
Now, I'm not a patient reader. Many mountaineering books have me skipping sections of dull prose. But this one had me reading the first 150 pages in almost a single sitting -... Read more
Published 16 months ago by M Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars From a non-mountaineer.
An intriguing account of an enigmatic and intriguing man. As a non-climber I was both gripped and horrified by the compelling accounts of the dangers and extreme discomforts he... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Camperfan
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable book
This is first class writing and observation resulting in a highly entertaining and interesting book. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Peter Chadwick
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