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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's not all about Bonnington
Much of the premise of this book is that Chris Bonnington somehow managed to gather around him an inner circle of daring and quite frankly sometimes madly over-ambitious climbers, many/most of whom were to meet grim deaths amongst the mountains of the world. I personally think that there was a coincidental aspect to this in that just as international travel became easier,...
Published on 1 July 2008 by Big Jim

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Faction over Reportage
The story of Bonnington and his peers and their impact on world mountaineering is fascinating. This is a hefty book with an awful lot of content. However there are one or two issues to consider before embarking on this journey.

The number of climbs covered and a certain repetition in their descriptions means that they can start to blur one into another...
Published on 22 Jun. 2009 by E. Clarke


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's not all about Bonnington, 1 July 2008
By 
Big Jim "Big Jim" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Much of the premise of this book is that Chris Bonnington somehow managed to gather around him an inner circle of daring and quite frankly sometimes madly over-ambitious climbers, many/most of whom were to meet grim deaths amongst the mountains of the world. I personally think that there was a coincidental aspect to this in that just as international travel became easier, technology was developed which allowed mountaineers to push themselves to further and further limits. Couple all this with an ever burgeoning media and the opening up of sponsorship possibilities which is arguably the main thing that Bonnington brought to the table in that he was able to meld these two things together which meant that he was able to head up large scale expeditions to unclimbed mountains and routes so naturally any ambitious climber would try and get on to a Bonnington mission as that was often the only way to get onto some of these mountains.

One thing that comes across in this brilliantly executed book is the mixture of guilt, pride and sheer love of the high mountains that comes across from Bonnington and those he climbed with. By his own admission he wasn't the greatest climber but was an excellent organiser which allowed the "boys" the opportunities to make audacious climbs that would have been unheard of in the decades earlier. It would appear that few of the climbers described here perhaps over reached their abilities, or took too many chances with conditions through ambition to outdo their peers more that they were constantly measuring themselves against the mountain. His writing and film making arguably made stars of the likes of Dougal Haston, Doug Scott and the like, and of course they went into print very succesfully as well.

there is a wealth of literature about the mountains and Bonnington's fascination with them comes across well in this book, but even more so it describes the serendipitous coming together of the disparate elements described above to bring about a golden age of not just climbing, but also the description of such climbing through print and film.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The 'Boys' Done Well, 15 Dec. 2006
I found this book very compelling but at the same time was slightly uneasy about a much used device that Willis employs where the boundaries between fact and fiction become a bit blurred.

What I'm referring to is telling the story of a climbers death (eg Mick Burke pp281-283} as he might have experienced it, told by an omniscient presence travelling with him as he meets his death. The writing is good in these sections, as in the rest of the book and I became a bit more comfortable with it once I had thought about what he was doing. It was the initial realisation I suppose, that in these passages he was writing, apparently with authority, about something that only the deceased could have known about.

As editor of a Climbing Journal I get many review books sent

to me - I read very few of them cover to cover on the first day - This was one of them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Faction over Reportage, 22 Jun. 2009
By 
E. Clarke "eamonnclarke" (cambridge UK) - See all my reviews
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The story of Bonnington and his peers and their impact on world mountaineering is fascinating. This is a hefty book with an awful lot of content. However there are one or two issues to consider before embarking on this journey.

The number of climbs covered and a certain repetition in their descriptions means that they can start to blur one into another. Perilous piton placements, terrifying exposure, severe weather conditions and food and fuel shortages are a common theme in these stories.

As has already been mentioned by other reviewers Willis writes very poetically about the meaning of these climbs. He uses a great deal of artistic licence to give us the thoughts and feelings of climbers who died over a quarter of a century ago: Mick Burke, Dougal Haston, Pete Boardman and Joe Tasker. Willis' technique is more the 'faction' of In Cold Blood rather than the straight reportage of Into Thin Air. This can feel a little uneasy at times as the reader wonders how anyone can possibly know what these men were thinking as they climbed towards oblivion.

The audiobook version has one or two minor problems as well. The mispronunciation of certain climbing terms is irritating. As is the varying sound quality of the drop-in sections where the narrator and sound recorder have clearly had to go back to re-record some passages.

All in all an interesting, and well-researched, experiment but not entirely successful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb bedtime read, 23 Jan. 2008
By 
Mr. J. Holmes "Olmez47" (North Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Boys of Everest: The Tragic Story of Climbing's Greatest Generation (Hardcover)
Just finished reading this superb book about our British legend climbers, Chris Bonington, Doug Scott, Dougal Haston, Don Whillans, Peter Boardman to name a few, and their fantastic feats on the hardest and harshes peaks on our planet. Clint Ellis has certainly done his research and his book really gives an insight into these great men and their journeys through their lives. Clint has a very poetic writing style and this is captured perfectly through the book giving you a better feel for the climbers characters. After reading this at bedtime I went to sleep dreaming of being in these legends shoes (or crampons!!). A must for anyone who loves the mountains.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent", 6 Aug. 2011
This review is from: The Boys of Everest: The Tragic Story of Climbing's Greatest Generation (Hardcover)
I have read a number of books concerning death in high places including Krakauer's"Into Thin Air" and more recently Maria Coffey's "Where the Mountain cast's it's shadow".

Willis' book is certainly a gripping read as other reviewers have said, but I have to join with many of them in finding the speculative "fiction writing" placing thoughts into the "actors" heads as they faced there final moments on the mountain, off putting. If this were a novel, or a straightforward fictionalisation, I have no doubt that would be considered as good writing, profound insight or whatever, but in this context it is out of place and cheapens both the book and the climbers last tragic moments.

I don't think I have learnt anything new from this book, however it has successfully brought together the careers of a number of notable climbers into a single coherent narrative and has not shirked the pleasant aspects of mountaineering either.

If anyone really wants to know what it is like to die on a mountain they should read Beck Weathers own account of being "Left for Dead, Miracle on Everest" There speaks someone who has been there and come back.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nearly Very Good, 23 Feb. 2010
It should have been titled "Bonington's Boys" as it covers their exploits on other mountains too [but there may have been some problem over that]. I was looking forward to just such a book as this, bringing together the climbers of this particular era. Up to a point it does. BUT....Clint Willis is NOT God, he does NOT know what the terminal and other unwritten thoughts of the climbers were. I became so irritated by this I nearly stopped reading. In the end when the omniscient paras occurred I just skipped them and on to the REAL narrative. What a pity, this book could otherwise have been THE definitive book of the Bonington era.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Was it all really so long ago?, 1 Sept. 2012
By 
G. Bethune "Graemscifi" (Caithness, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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I am in shock! I followed these men(mostly they are all men) as gods who walked amoung us when i was a wee thing, now having revisited them i find them more than a bit horrable. This book has done that rarest thing, it has roused me from my middle aged stupor, its made me feel again the wonder and hope i had following the exploits by these men in this book on the Eiger and Everest et al, but then its also made me feel foolish for having elevated them so high.
The book is exactly what it says on the cover, a straight story of the rise of a generation of talented cimbers from these septured isles, and then the deaths of nearly all of them. Its this fact, of thier deaths, that might explain the diffrence i feel between reading thrilling expidition accounts from the 60's and 70's of "North Face" this "Ridge" that, and reading this survay of the whole group and period. We know the ultimate end, its death. Death in horrifying ways leaving wives, girlfrends, frends, parents, family, readers to live with thier selfdestruction. I find i feel a kind of guilt for having voyeristicaly participated in the deaths of these men having bought thier books, and here it is laid out in detail how they died trying to climb in more extreme ways, up newer more deadly routes for glory in order to write new books for me to read.
Thats the diffrence between then and now i am sure. This book details the development of the deadly relationship between media, money, ego, ambition, self destruction and climbing its one that led these men up to thier doom so we could read about it. Its a worthy read but a disquieting one whose legacy for the reader might be to leave them with thier childhood adulation of this group destoyed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Riveting Read, 1 Nov. 2011
By 
D. Elliott (Ulverston, Cumbria) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
The personnel of `The Boys of Everest' read like a roll of honour of eminent climbers and mountaineers - and rightly so. It is not necessary to know the protagonists though having started my climbing career in 1954 I am aware of all characters mentioned, have met many, and climbed with a couple. I am unsure of the origin of the coined phrase "Bonington's Boys" which encapsulates how the book is built around Chris Bonington's circle of companions over the period 1958-1985. I applaud the manner in which it goes on to tell of their deeds of derring-do, and for many grants well deservered hero status. Accounts from numerous expeditions are well covered elsewhere as biographies, autobiographies and mountaineering reports, but author Clint Willis attempts a more personal exposure. He evokes an atmosphere where the reader gets right there with the action, and his book makes a compelling read with gripping descriptions and sensitive detail recounted in almost romantic style. `The Boys of Everest' is presented as factual but there is a degree of fabrication.

The size of the `Selected Bibliography' and `Acknowledgements' sections indicate the wide range of personnel who shared their own experiences and offered insights to other of the book's protagonists. Clint Willis has clearly undertaken extensive research, yet no amount of investigation, interrogation and analysis can define some of the intimate thoughts of `Bonington's Boys'. There is a Tuscan proverb: "The tale is not beautiful if nothing is added" - and clearly somethings have been added - so indicating the only weakness of `The Boys of Everest' - it is impossible to know what is in other people's minds and to write their stories - especially for some at the moment of death. For this reason alone my review grants only a 4-star rating. However perhaps the odd fictionalised fact adds to the poignancy and really does recognise the minds of climbers at their limits, and certainly I acknowledge the writing of Clint Willis as a riveting read that is unlikely to be bettered. `The Boys of Everest' is a 5-star story and it will inform and thrill its readers.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good book, poorly presented!, 29 Oct. 2010
This review is from: The Boys of Everest: The Tragic Story of Climbing's Greatest Generation (Hardcover)
Firstly, let me say I enjoyed this book.

That said I cannot honestly say that I thought it was a particularly well written one. Willis has obviously researched this material thoroughly and although impressive, it is the manner in which it is presented. It is not put together as a factual analysis as for example Boukreev's "The Climb" or Ed Viesturs' "K2" is, but a third person narrative drawn from the climbing journals, interviews and existing literature on the subject.

My main disappointment is the constant utter nonsense descriptors Willis uses to supplement the factual details. Each description of emotion and thought, or setting and place is crowbarred in using inappropriate imagery and flowery language that does not compliment the technical detail of the climbs themselves. I have never seen so many "as ifs" and "just likes" in one place.

He also fails to explain many of the thoughts or emotions the climbers may, sorry DO have throughout their experiences. An example "...the four climbers slept like animals in their den. Chris woke once in that night in the murky cold with a feeling that he had abandoned his life. The morning came..."

I can only assume that this insight was gleaned from a diary or journal of Bonnington and the boys, but Willis neither explains nor quantifies why he had the "feeling that he had abandoned his life". It's just I nice thing Willis found and stuck it in. If Willis as a writer cannot explain that thought or feeling then it should be omitted. For me this book contained far too many of these examples.

The point of view itself is not the issue I have, nor is it the speculation of the emotions a climber may have as they plummet to their death. It is the suggestion that it is what they "did" feel rather that what he "may" have felt without filling in the process behind it. Speculate by all means, but do not just stick it in! A simple "Perhaps it was because..." lets us see that he has put some thought behind it.

BUT, as I stated in my opening line, I found this to be an enjoyable, if a little repetitive read. I am willing to believe that these are in fact the thoughts and feelings Willis has found through his research on the many climbing journals, but I would have liked to see them presented as a factual document the way Viesturs' K2 does.
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4.0 out of 5 stars If You Like the Genre, Buy It!, 11 Feb. 2010
This review is from: The Boys of Everest: The Tragic Story of Climbing's Greatest Generation (Hardcover)
I found the book engrossing and really enjoyable.If you are a devotee of Chris Bonington's life and climbs and the generation of world class mountaineers he surrounded himself with, then Clint Willis has done an exellent piece of work.It covers Boningtons' career from his early days rock climbing in the army to his 1985 Southeast Ridge climb to the summit of Everest.It also covers in detail his relationships with each of the main characters that Bonington encounters during his life as a climber.The main fault with this work, as pointed out by other reviews, is Willis' philosophical meanderings of what was going through the individuals minds while contemplating their deaths or in the process of dying,I found this quite unneccessary and superfluous.Nevertheless,I would recommend this book to anyone interested in this subject matter.
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