Top positive review
52 of 52 people found this helpful
Inspirational, moving and thought-provoking
on 22 September 2004
To write a great autobiographical book, you have to have lived a great life. Before he was 30 years old, the author had already experienced more hardship and tragedy than most people can imagine. Yet this book is, above all, one of inspiration. As a survival story, it is even more arresting than "Touching the Void".
Jamie Andrew tells the story of the 1999 mountaineering ordeal in which his friend died without a trace of self-pity, even with humour. He describes factually his own subsequent surgery - the amputation of both hands and feet because of extreme frostbite. But the way in which he subsequently rebuilt his life is the author's main message. What matters is not what happens to you, it is how you cope. Jamie Andrew's response to his "disability" has been consistently heroic.
As a quadruple amputee, he has run a marathon, climbed Ben Nevis and more recently Kilimanjaro, fathered a child and written a moving book about his experiences. There is a marvellous passage about the many ways we use our hands - forms of expression now closed to him. There are tributes to the bravery of the helicopter and surgical teams who saved his life but could not save his friend's. And there are excellent photographs to illustrate his extraordinary story.
If you have ever felt hungry, thirsty, cold or tired while walking or climbing, read this book and you will never feel sorry for yourself again. If you have had illness or surgery, read this book and discover new ways of coping with challenges. If you fit neither of these categories, read it anyway, as a well-written and gripping story. The book has already been nominated for the Boardman Tasker Prize for mountain literature, and it is clearly destined to become a classic.