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The Wildest Dream: George Mallory: The Biography of an Everest Hero: Mallory - His Life and Conflicting Passions [Paperback]

Peter Gillman , Leni Gillman
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
Price: 10.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

3 May 2001

In 1924, George Mallory and his companion Andrew Irvine disappeared during a valiant bid to reach the world's highest summit. In May 1999 Mallory's body was found, partly resolving the riddle of whether they succeeded in their bid, 29 years ahead of Hillary and Tenzing.

Peter and Leni Gillman assess the motives and goals of this inspirational yet complex figure, whose life was dominated by his two conflicting passions: his love for his wife Ruth, and Everest - forbidding, unclimbed, 'the wildest dream', as he called it. Drawing on family letters and helped by surviving members of the family, Peter and Leni Gillman present a powerful and affecting portrait of a man torn between competing desires, and the fatal choice he ultimately made.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Headline; 2 edition (3 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747264589
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747264583
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 182,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A finely wrought and meticulously detailed biography of Mallory ... It is at once compelling and evocative (Joe Simpson, author of TOUCHING THE VOID)

` A superb biography' Daily Telegraph

A rich portrait of a man who defies facile categorisation ... The new biography is spot-on [about the climbing] (Stephen Venables, Daily Telegraph)

The Gillmans have produced a respectful and thoroughly researched account of Mallory's life (Observer)

This exemplary biography of Mallory, which draws upon much new material, puts the man in all his many perspectives... Strikingly well balanced (Jan Morris, Spectator)

It is a masterful achievement - impeccably researched, beautifully written and a delight to read. Without question the Gillmans have written a definitive biography of an utterly fascinating man (Jon Krakauer)

A poignant story, handsomely told (Yorkshire Post)

The most compelling read over 12 months ... Go out and buy it (Ian Wooldridge, Daily Mail)

Mountaineering biography at its best ... A fascinating life, an interior journey coupled with exterior adventure, and well told, too (Chris Smith, Mail on Sunday)

Book Description

A revealing and complete biography of doomed hero George Mallory, which includes previously unpublished letters and family papers

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Admirable 9 Mar 2003
In a bookshop I idly picked this book up because I remembered vaguely that George Mallory had been to the same college as me and I wanted to read a description of him there. I have never been climbing and had always thought it an odd thing to do. Within a short space of time I became intrigued and then, at home, entranced by it, reading it twice straight off.
Why is it so good? It's beautifully-marshalled in terms of the material, the pace is right and the writers make it very clear what kind of man he was and what drove him. I found the accounts of the Everest attempts and the accompanying photographs absolutely haunting. Mallory and his colleagues stayed in my mind for a long time afterwards, and I have begun to understand something of the fascination with mountains. What more could you want from such a book?
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An account of extraordinary strength and emotion 3 July 2000
Peter and Leni Gillman have succeeded in capturing the true character of one of the greatest mountaineering legends of all time. This book is beautifully researched, meticulously chronicled and yet the narrative is fresh and compelling. If you want to read beyond the sensational accounts of the 1924 Everest expedition and find out more about the real George Mallory then consider this stunning biography and remarkable story.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An intelligently-written biography 15 Nov 2007
I became interested in George Mallory when his body was discovered on Everest in 1999. I think that almost everyone knows his most famous quote: "Because it's there", but at school we learned about the 1953 expedition and Hillary and did not really touch on previous attempts at Everest.

This book is superby well-written and gives the reader real insight into Mallory and what drove him. As one reads, one can almost feel the charisma of Mallory himself. Not only was he an excellent climber but he was also accomplished at many other sports, a writer and took great interest in subjects as wide-ranging as art/literature, nature and politics. I find it quite intriguing to think that he may have been the inspiration for George in E.M.Forster's "A Room with a View."

The parts of the book describing George Mallory's climbing expeditions are perhaps the most gripping. I found the last few pages almost unbearable to read, knowing what was to come. And, after I finished the book, it really did keep me wondering - not just if Mallory and/or Irvine did reach the summit, but what was going through Mallory's head in his last few hours.

The only section of the book that I felt slightly uncomfortable with was the part relating George's possible affair/s while at Cambridge. Part of this was me feeling rather sorry for George as one gets the feeling that he was somewhat out of his depth here. Many young people have affairs or relationships in their youth that they may well regret later. While mention of this phase of George Mallory's life belongs in a biography, I could have done with slightly less detail. In contrast, the relationship between George and Ruth is beautifully portrayed - and illustrated via their letters.

This is a book to read if you are interested in mountains - of course - but also for anyone who is interested in the psychology of human endeavour.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Peter and Leni Gillman have produced a beautifully paced biography about one of climbing's greatest enigmas, George Mallory. Anyone who is intrigued by the first attempts to scale the world's highest mountain will be captivated by this fine work and the Gillman's genuine affection for their subject. In fact, the authors' fondness for Mallory is so obvious that it's almost as if they knew him in person: at times, they manage to paint his relationships with friends and family (particularly his wife, Ruth) in such detail that it's almost like witnessing events first-hand and it is this deep understanding and skilful narrative that makes this one of the finest biographies of Mallory yet written.

If there can be a criticism, it must be of the Gillman's slightly clumsy treatment of Mallory's sexuality: it makes little difference (to me) whether Mallory was homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual - it is not (or, at least, it shouldn't be) his sexual proclivities that define him. During an all too brief life, Mallory was a teacher, a warrior, and a fine mountaineer: these attributes seem more important than his choice of sleeping partner. However, given the almost obsessive interest in this aspect of George Mallory's character, it's inevitable the the Gillmans would tackle the issue: strange then that they should simply declare him "straight" after devoting a lengthy chapter to his relationships with other men at Cambridge.

Nonetheless, this minor gripe should not put potential readers off: the book is a superb account of Mallory's life and his loss.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars George Mallory, more than just a mountaineer 9 Jun 2009
This biography of George Mallory should satisfy anyone who wants to know anout his Everest exploits and the fatal final expedition there, as well as his pioneering involvement in the development of British climbing through the climbing Club and its centre at Pen-Y-pass in Snowdonia. However, this book's greater fascination lies in the portrayal of Mallory's personal influences, experiences and hinterland, ranging from his upbringing as a vicar's son through public school, Cambridge, the trenches of the Western Front, unconventional schoolteaching and the Bloomsbury Set. While doing this the authors bring to life the Edwardian and Twenties upper class society in which he moved. They do not duck the issue of his exploration of homosexuality within the group in which he moved, as well as later relationships with women leading to his marriage to Ruth and their close relationship up to his death. Ultimately the authors explore psychological tension set up for Mallory by his "conflicting passions": his family life and the allure of Everest.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous Book - but did you get any pictures?
This is a splendid and highly researched book about Mallory. It fulfils what it sets out to do, which is to show the complexity of the man and the weight of the decisions he had to... Read more
Published 6 months ago by E. P. Hall
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and surprising
His early life was not quite how I imagined it to be.Mallory was a product of his upbringing and class.
Published 10 months ago by cardiwig
1.0 out of 5 stars The wildest Dream ( not received
Cannot rate this book yet as it hasn't been received. Got the dvd but the book is elusive at the moment
Published 15 months ago by June Raynor
5.0 out of 5 stars A man who personified an era
I've been fascinated by Mallory for years. I'm also fascinated by the history of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Read more
Published 18 months ago by N. Turner
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
This book is a masterpiece of, firstly a fantastic amount of intensive research, and also very well written. Could not put it down, even though I knew the outcome
Published 19 months ago by mr john m wood
5.0 out of 5 stars Secret gift
Cannot write a review aeeived in good time well wrapped not unwrapped yet as is also a Christmas gift from the children
Published 20 months ago by P A Wise
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book about a fascinating character
Really enjoyed this book. Intrigued by the whole Mallory story and wanted to know more about the man. This book did the trick. excellent srvice form the supplier
Published on 31 July 2012 by Andy and Jenny B
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting
I bought this book after being completely compelled to find out more about Goerge Mallory and Andrew Irvine's ill-fated Everest attempt in 1924. Read more
Published on 24 Oct 2011 by Dunkerpup
5.0 out of 5 stars The Wildest Dream
I have been waiting several years for a biographical study of Mallory-the man as well as the mountaineer, and this is superb. Read more
Published on 9 Oct 2011 by Artemistica
4.0 out of 5 stars The Wildest Dream
Still on my quest to learn as much about George Mallory - this book seems to cover the known facts whilst at the same time trying to give as much of an insight into the person as... Read more
Published on 11 Aug 2010 by S. Pattison
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