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Shipton and Tilman by Perrin, Jim (2013)
Shipton and Tilman by Perrin, Jim (2013)
by Jim Perrin
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars pre-war icons, 11 Feb 2014
I was keen to read this book when it came out and desperately wanted to be gripped. Although written well, I was a little disappointed. The book is sub-titled 'The Great Decade of Himalayan Exploration' and this is intended as the 1930's. However, it took an inordinately long time to even get to the 1930's in the book, as at least a third of it was taken up with biography. Perrin states at the start of the book that this is not a biography.

Perrin also spends much time and exhaustive pages pontificating about Shipton's dyslexia and his writing style. Both of which seemed essentially irrelevant to a book intended to celebrate a golden period in Himalayan exploration and mountaineering.

My final criticism is that Perrin does tend to indulge in showing off how extensively read he is and likes to drop into the text unnecessarily abstract and unused words. I don't think this book is intended as a book of scholarship, and yet it hasn't been written for the ordinary reader. I'm not sure Perrin has established who his target audience is intended to be.

Beyond that, I did find it a very interesting book and Perrin has chosen an excellent subject and period.


A Long Walk with Lord Conway: An Exploration of the Alps and an English Adventurer
A Long Walk with Lord Conway: An Exploration of the Alps and an English Adventurer
by Simon Thompson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 15.53

5.0 out of 5 stars end of empire, 8 Nov 2013
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It's often surprising to read about people's lives. Generally people read biography to know more about the life of the subject. A good biography also gives the reader an understanding about the personality too. It's also really good placing the personality and achievement into the context of the period in which that person lived.

Today Conway would possibly be thought of as a chancer and a sponger, but I suspect his behaviour might have been quite akin to his class at the later years of the British Empire. An interesating and diverse life, Thompson has done a great job telling this story. He has interwoven the story of one of Conway's earlier expeditions through the Alps and his own journey retracing his step, making comparisons between then and now.

A very enjoyable read.


The State of Africa: A History of the Continent Since Independence
The State of Africa: A History of the Continent Since Independence
by Martin Meredith
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.69

5.0 out of 5 stars extraordinary, 11 Oct 2013
I half expected to run out of enthusiasm as it ran out of steam. How wrong I could be!! The author has done a remarkable job keeping things going. Not only the period covered, but also the number of nations. The reader is clearly left with an understanding about how things progressed and developed right across the continent. I can't honestly say that I could possibly begin to remember the names of all the psychopaths and megalomaniacs described in the book. I have been left with the impression of a highly troubled nation. Having frequently felt massive pangs of guilt about living in a society of privilege I have often made charitable donations to the starving millions. If there is any fault with the book, it is that I now wonder if there is any benefit. Clearly corruption is the underlying cause of all the suffering and the issues will continue until cultures change.

This is a big book, as you'd expect with such a big scope, but momentum is maintained throughout and it is easy to follow. Very readable and completely enjoyable. I would recommend this book to anyone.


Dark Waters (the Expedition Trilogy, Book 1)
Dark Waters (the Expedition Trilogy, Book 1)
by Jason Lewis
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.00

5.0 out of 5 stars incredible and incredulous, 3 Oct 2013
I wasn't sure what to expect from this book. I was surprised by the writing style, which was engaging and kept the reader involved. Jason Lewis is clearly an intelligent man with a knack of writing well. The story is extraordinary too. It's a bit like some kind of ridiculous drunken challenge come true. We've all had those moments of fantasy, but it's seldom these moments turn to reality. Jason's story flows well and he has cleverly chosen not to give a blow by blow account or recite a daily log. However, the reader still gets a full flavour of the experience the two of them had. I also really liked the author's honesty. I think he adds to the story with his self deprecation and self analysis - this helps the reader to feel the human side of the story.

I'm looking forward to the next installment.


Thin White Line
Thin White Line
by Andy Cave
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another way, 22 Sep 2013
This review is from: Thin White Line (Paperback)
This is a great little book and easy to read. Andy Cave writes well and relates his tale well too. He has brought the reader with him in feeling what it was like in the pits, the crisis of decision, being out in the mountains and so forth. I always feel that is the measure of good writing when you are transported by the author to the place and time being written about.


A Rage to Live: A Biography of Richard and Isabel Burton
A Rage to Live: A Biography of Richard and Isabel Burton
by Mary S. Lovell
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars extraordinary lives, 22 Sep 2013
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Having developed a curiosity about Richard Burton, I bought this book as one of the more recent biographies. What a bonus, that you get two people's lives for the price of one. They say behind every good man is a good woman. It's for the reader to judge for himself whether or not Richard Burton was a good man. Personally, I feel he was fundamentally a good man, but clearly misunderstood in some things and obviously subject to jealousy. A man of extraordinary mind, I daresay he made many feel inferior owing to his superior intellect. His wife was also an extraordinary person and clearly provided all the support he required to conduct his life in the way that he did. They made a forceful and colourful team.

This book is no small undertaking and as a hefty tome it requires commitment. Having said that, I found it easy going and a very enjoyable read. The author has clearly conducted an enormous amount of research on her two protagonists and has used newly discovered archived material to build a very full picture of them both. Clearly long and full lives are going to take some telling. I also liked the way in which the author has been honest about matters of conjecture and how she has also provided a certain degree of balance to some of the angles taken by previous biographers.

This is a hugely readable book about a fascinating couple. They lived the kind of life that could only be imagined today and which was only possible in the days of Empire. I would recommend this book to anyone.


Swim, Bike, Run: Our Triathlon Story
Swim, Bike, Run: Our Triathlon Story
by Alistair Brownlee
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.60

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars go Jonny go go go, 28 July 2013
I was given this book as a birthday gift. What an inspired choice.

Brownlee is now a name recognised by many and the two brothers have probably had the greatest impact in bringing the sport of triathlon to the nations consciousness. Primarily owing to the 2012 Olympics, but possibly also for their other achievements.

The book is well written and easy to read. It is not intended as a biography of the brothers, more a story telling the reader how these two brothers came to the pinnacle of their chosen sport in the first instance. It relates their attitudes - to each other, to other sportsmen and to their training (which they clearly enjoy). Their competitiveness with each other is clearly part of what motivates them to progress, but in a positive way. The book takes the reader through each of their stages of childhood development in each of the three disciplines and then onto how they attained success, initial at local level, then national and finally international. Passages alternate between Alastair and Jonny and it almost becomes a kind of dialogue between the two of them. The book finishes off with Olympic glory for Alastair and World Championship glory for Jonny. What a year for them 2012 was.

Their parents must be so proud of them.


Cross the Great Desert
Cross the Great Desert
by Michael Ross
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Biography of Rene Caillie, 14 July 2013
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This review is from: Cross the Great Desert (Hardcover)
Stumbled across this book and am really pleased that I did. The book tells the tale of the Frenchman Rene Caillie and his journey across Western Central Africa to become the first white man to reach Timbuktoo and return to tell the story. This really is an extraordinary story of self sacrifice and hardship on an epic scale. Ross has pieced together Caillie's life and journey through the narrative of his journal and in some small part from his own travels in the region. Caillie was clearly very self deprecating and doesn't seem to have placed sufficient emphasis on what he must have endured. Perhaps for this reason he has not be well known as one of the Great African explorers.

His journey was also at a time when the English Major Gordon Laing travelled to Timbuktoo, but via the northern route from Tripoli. Laing reached Timbuktoo before Caillie, but was murdered shortly after he left the city. His journals have never been found. On Cailiie's return to France, the English wanted to claim the kudos for reaching Timbuktoo first and there was much speculation whether Caillie had actually been there at all or simply fabricated his story. This is not a stroy that could be made up.

The greatest complaint about the book is the complete lack of any maps or diagrams whatsoever. These would have been most helpful to the reader to understand where Caillie was at any one time and perhaps his journey could be overlaid against other explorers - especially Laing, but also Clapperton amongst others.


The Hard Years: His Autobiography
The Hard Years: His Autobiography
by Joe Brown
Edition: Paperback
Price: 9.09

5.0 out of 5 stars A climbing icon, 8 July 2013
I really did enjoy this book. It is well written and has a lot of humour in it. It's most impressive what these climbing pioneers got up to and how the development of equipment changed the way we climb today. I liked to hear how Joe Brown developed as a climber himself, threading climbing into his working life and how the nature of his climbing progressed from British crags to the Greater Ranges. I would like to see a follow up, as Joe Brown's life has continued for a further four or five decades since this book was written.


Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration
Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration
by David Roberts
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 20.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a man, 8 July 2013
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This boook tells the tale of the most extensive and successful, in terms of scientific achievement, polar expedition of that age. The expedition is most remembered for the tragic deaths of Ninnis and Mertz on the Eastern sledging party led by Mawson, who had to endure extraordinary feats of super-human endurance to survive the ordeal and make it back to the hut. This must sit alongside the survival of the 'Endurance' expedition led by Shackleton in terms of polar extremes. However, the tale is not as famous or renown as one might expect it should be. This is owing to the death of Scott and his south polar party as well as the outbreak of the first world war.

David Roberts has done a wonderful job of bringing to life an important story in polar history and placing Mawson into the pantheon of polar greats. The book is well constructed and an enjoyable read. I would thoroughly recommmend it.


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