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Touching the Void [Unknown Binding]

Joe Simpson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (190 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Vintage; First as Such edition (1997)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (190 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Former mountaineer Joe Simpson is the author of several best-selling books, of which the first, Touching the Void, won both the NCR award and the Boardman Tasker Award.

His later books are This Game of Ghosts - the sequel to Touching the Void, Storms of Silence, Dark Shadows Falling, The Beckoning Silence and two novels, The Water People and The Sound of Gravity.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
I was lying in my sleeping bag, staring at the light filtering through the red and green fabric of the dome tent. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars EXTREME ADVENTURE IN THE PERUVIAN ANDES... 29 Dec 2002
This book recounts an amazing tale of courage, fortitude, and the will to live, despite dire circumstances. The author, Joe Simpson, and his climbing partner, Simon Yates, attempted to ascend a perilous section of the Peruvian Andes. Near the summit, tragedy struck when Joe, up over 19,000 feet, fell and hit a slope at the base of a cliff, breaking his right leg, rupturing his right knee, and shattering his right heel. Beneath him was a seemingly endless fall to the bottom.
When Simon reached him, they both knew that the chances for getting Joe off the mountain were virtually non-existent. Yet, they fashioned a daring plan to to do just that. For the next few hours, they worked in tandem through a snow storm, and managed a risky, yet effective way of trying to lower Joe down the mountain.
About three thousand feet down, Joe, who was still roped to Simon, dropped off an edge and found himself now free hanging in space six feet away from an ice wall, unable to reach it with his axe. The edge was over hung about fifteen feet above him. The dark outline of a crevasse lay about a hundred feet directly below him.
Joe could not get up, and Simon could not get down. In fact, Joe's weight began to pull Simon off the mountain. So, Simon was finally forced to do the only thing he could do under the circumstances. He cut the rope, believing that he was consigning his friend to certain death. Therein lies the tale.
What happens next is sure to make one believe in miracles. This is an absorbing read and one of the great stories in mountaineering literature.
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100 of 104 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
In 1985 two English climbers set out to climb the remote western face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. The face had repulsed several previous attempts, and despite the odds the two experienced Alpinists made the summit. It was during the descent that the author fell down a small ice cliff and broke his leg. The few paragraphs describing what happens when his climbing partner reaches him, and the descriptions of what is going through their minds and what is said and what is not said is perhaps one of the most tense things in the book. What follows is perhaps one of the most outstanding and dramatic accounts of the human will to survive ever written. Simpson wrote the book whilst recovering from his injuries and has admitted that he found reliving the ordeal painfull. Consequently he wrote the book in a very succinct fashion; he does not use ten words if he can use one, and he always chooses the words well. This book is real edge of the seat stuff, and I read it through in one night, dosed up on coffee, and turned up at work the next day babbling about the book. My advice is don't start reading it if you have work the next day. I have spoken to several other people who have read it and without exception they have found it memorable. A truly remarkable book, one you will remember for a long time. Now move the mouse to the order button !
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Touching the Void 23 Jan 2006
I think this is a wonderful book and I am only a teenager. Simpson gives you a detailed account of his ordeal on Siula Grande. It is one of the few books that have you looking upon life differently and consider that maybe there is more to life and death and anything in between. He tells us how terrible dying alone is and how much he longed for company on those fateful nights.
Simpson gives good descriptions on the technical side of mountaineering and the photos of Siula Grande are absolutly wonderful. I was also quite shocked to hear that Simon Yates, Simpsons climbling partner, was harshly criticised about cutting the rope, as to me it was the only option to save at least one of their lives, and as a catch22 situation, one of them or both of them was bound to die. However but got away with it and I'm sure it is something no human could ever even imagine was possible.
All in all, a superb book and I recomend it to anyone, climber or not, because I honestly could not put it down and kept re-reading it for a month.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dig Deep. 9 Dec 2006
Dig Deep/Touching the void

For me the controversy is of secondary concern because, for me, Touching the Void contains some of the most inspiring chapters ever written. With broken limbs and a dehydrated body, Joe Simpson is forced to make his way down a treacherous mountain, to his base camp. Simpson talks of a tiny voice in his mind, pushing him onward when everyone else had seemingly left him for dead. These chapters contain the very definition of digging deep and can be inspiring for anyone, whatever there day to day life contains.

The controversy is in regards to the breaking of the ultimate climbing rule, cutting the rope. Climbers, climb joined together by a line and in cutting the rope the Joe's partner had to take a fall that would have killed him. There are no apologies here for that, and the author regards his critics as armchair adventurers.

The writing style is frank, honest and accessible. It is a riveting account of an extraordinary event.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
I must admit I’d had this on my bookshelf, unread, for a while after having acquired a copy of it. Friends of mine kept showering praise on the book but I always seemed to have a ‘reading list’ as long as my arm and somehow I just never managed to fit it in. Prompted at last by the release of the feature length documentary I begun reading it, all the hype and exposure surrounding it still in the back of my mind. To say I understand what all the fuss is about now would be an understatement.
It’s not just Joe’s (and Simon’s) endurance and bravery that is astonishing, but their rich, utterly captivating narrative reads like the best (true) thriller, transporting you effortlessly to the sub-zero wind-blasted heights of the Peruvian Andes. The weather and the mountain begin to take on a menacing personality as they’re pitted against an almost tangible nemesis. Extraordinary people in extraordinary circumstances really do extraordinary things. Inspiring and thrilling in equal measure.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book
I first picked this up and thought, "Oh no, a boring book about a climbing accident", fearing that you'd need to a climber to fully appreciate it. Read more
Published 9 days ago by John Dush
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible demonstration of the power of the mind over the body and...
If nothing else it puts into perspective the true capabilities of the body and mind when truly pushed to the edge of death.
Published 14 days ago by jason mardell
4.0 out of 5 stars Very gripping story
This book is not just for climbers but for anyone interested in a well written true story about a man fighting for his life. I could not not put it down.
Published 17 days ago by MISS JULIA M ELMGREN
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling reading
I had already seen the film and bought the dvd! Not sure why i bought the book but i am glad i did. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Lynn Marlow
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Brillant book would recommend it, I then purchased the DVD Touching the Void where the two climbers describe their ordeal fascinating to see
Published 1 month ago by josie
This is not only for those who love extreme climbing and extreme sports.
This is just a classic of adventure, like Stevenson is, like Kipling. Read more
Published 1 month ago by francesco cavazzini
5.0 out of 5 stars I was cold and scared just reading it!
And that was before Joe had even HAD the accident. I first read this many years ago and my initial amazement at what Joe and Simon went through has not dimmed. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Cathy J
5.0 out of 5 stars a must read
Without doubt one of the most compelling books I have read for a long cannot comprehend what this guy went through truly inspiring.
Published 1 month ago by mark hallworth
3.0 out of 5 stars Preferred the film
The book was interesting - if you are a mountaineer or a climber: it's full of technical terms that the average reader wouldn't understand. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Islander
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!
This book will have you on the edge of your seat! Better still, read it under your duvet. Unbelievable heroism.
Published 2 months ago by Lomaxman
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