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66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another mountaineeing classic from Joe Simpson
Joe Simpson, author of four thoughtful and highly praised mountaineering books returns to print, older and mindful of the effects mountaineering has had on himself and his friends. At the beginning of the book he is soberly considering giving up the sport given the personal cost (multiple serious injuries) and the cost to others (losing an average of one friend per year...
Published on 17 Feb 2002 by Dr. Sn Cottam

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A DRAMATIC EVEREST ADVENTURE DRYLY TOLD...ZZZZZZZZZ...
This is the story of the 1963 American Mount Everest Expedition, which made mountaineering history. It saw the first Americans summit Everest via the South Col. It also saw the first climb of Everest by anyone via the West Ridge route, previously believed to be unclimbable.
Not only did Thomas Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld summit Everest via the West Ridge, they...
Published on 1 Dec 2002 by Lawyeraau


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66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars another mountaineeing classic from Joe Simpson, 17 Feb 2002
By 
Dr. Sn Cottam "Steve the medic" (Preston, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Beckoning Silence (Hardcover)
Joe Simpson, author of four thoughtful and highly praised mountaineering books returns to print, older and mindful of the effects mountaineering has had on himself and his friends. At the beginning of the book he is soberly considering giving up the sport given the personal cost (multiple serious injuries) and the cost to others (losing an average of one friend per year killed on the mountains). As Simpson himself points out it you keep putting your head in the lion's mouth, however good or skilled or lucky you believe yourself to be, sooner or later he will shut it. Simpson's tales from past climbs (including the tragedy of a friend who gave up mountaineering only to be killed after taking up paragliding) his agonising over the rising death toll, the camaradie and resourcefulness of mountaineers and the personal considerations of what he will do next, form the first half of the book.
The second half tells the tale of an attempt on the North Face of the Eiger, a nearly 2 mile height of sheer rock and ice, doing this classic alpine route is to be Simpson's valedectory to climbing. In this he tells superbly the story of the mountain and the many (often tragic) stories of previous attempts followed by his own attempt. The sheer terror of the storm that breaks during the ascent and the tragedy that ensues when two (possibly three) other climbers are killed is evoked in moving but clear and gripping prose.
Simpson writes wonderfully about mountains and those who seek to conquer them. Even if (like me) you have never climbed a mountain in your life and don't intend to, read Joe Simpson for his marvellous descriptions, his superb prose and his evocation of life at the literal edge - physically and psychologically.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gripping Read, 28 Dec 2002
This review is from: The Beckoning Silence (Hardcover)
I shall not try to review this book because this has been more than adequately covered by others on this website. I would rather explain to you my reactions to reading the book:-
I was first introduced to Joe Simpson when I was given a copy of Touching the Void as a talking book. The raw excitement and danger made me eager for more of the same. As a non-climber, I was aware of the North Face of The Eiger as a challenging climb – but remained otherwise uninformed. And so, I turned to The Beckoning Silence merely as an interesting and hopefully exciting read. I didn’t expect that this would be the only book that I have ever read and then immediately re-read .
Joe Simpson has a way of telling his story that is effortless to the reader – the text is plainly worded but this does not detract from his powers of description. Mr Simpson has taken a good story and interwoven it with tales of other climbers and the incidents of friends and acquaintances in such a way to produce a superb read. The section of the book where Joe and his friend Ray start to climb the Eiger was absolutely gripping – the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet were sweating with the vicarious thrill.
Much of the book is spent describing the dangers of climbing and examining where the acceptable danger threshold is. As one who has taken part in dangerous sports, I have asked myself many of the same questions – and resolved them at an earlier age. At the end of the book, I remained unconvinced that Joe was ready to hang up his climbing gear – and am hopeful that there is another climbing book or two in him yet.
The selection of the photos used in this book amplifies the interest in it. Each and every one of the pictures is relevant to the text and is part of the story – I returned time and time again to view each one in turn.
A great adventure book that will remain on my bookshelf: Read it soon.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More thinking than climbing, 6 Sep 2004
This review is from: The Beckoning Silence (Paperback)
"I often wondered if these heroes of mine ever climbed with quite such a baggage of fears and dark terrors as I did."
Joe Simpson is the writer who let out the secret - all your climbing heroes get scared. Fear can make a climber turn back well before they have even reached the mountain, let alone half-way up a crumbling ice climb. But there are real dangers, of falls, storms and avalanche, that each year seem to kill more of Simpson's friends. Here, the fear and the deaths have almost stopped him mountaineering, but there's one last climb he has to do - the North Face of the Eiger.
It's a book that won't satisfy everyone, as Simpson often seems to spend far more time thinking about climbing that actually doing it, and in the first half he gets nowhere near that north face, instead taking us through another few years of an autobiography that started with "This Game of Ghosts". But really, no one does do climbing books as well as Joe Simpson with his black humour, honesty and insight, and this is something of a masterclass. He can even sneak in a pretty good history of climbing on the Eiger, while psyching himself up for the climb, that quickly dismisses any worry that he might just be doing a little padding out. Of course, the original and best book on the Eiger is Heinrich Harrer's "The White Spider", and Joe Simpson has already had a pretty good go at writing the best climbing book of all time in "Touching the Void". This one is never going to quite match up, but that doesn't stop it being thought-provoking, gripping, compulsory reading for anyone interested in the mountains.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly honest, 21 Oct 2003
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A great book. Unpretentious, they certainly give the impression that the title is totally unwarranted. The Burgess brothers are archetypal 70s British alpinistes, I pissed myself at their Rab Carrington quote re 80s Sheffield climbers "The young kids drink only orange juice - in half pints, just in case even orange juice might be bad for them". I doubt the Burgess brothers even drink half pints of beer.
They give the best insight into the personalities of themselves and their contemporaries that I have read, both the good and the bad sides. The book feels as though it is written by, and about, real people, rather than climbing legends.
My only criticism? They probably don't trumpet their own (awesome) climbing achievements enough.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beckoning Silence - my thoughts, 16 Aug 2003
By 
James Smith (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Beckoning Silence (Paperback)
An incredibly personal and honest account of the Author's struggle to come to terms with a mix of emotions derived from years of pursuing this dangerous (often deadly) passion. Wonderfully written, this book intimately draws you into the world of the climber. I am a non-climber with little knowledge of the sport but I gained a true insight to the fears, expectations and dangers that these people put themselves through. A few years ago on a skiing holiday, I sat in a restaurant and gazed up at the Eiger and observed the beauty but little else. I'm now slightly embarrassed that at the time, I had little comprehension of its legend and foreboding within the climbing world. Read this book, a true inspiration.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, 2 Mar 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: The Beckoning Silence (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book almost as much as "Touching the Void", although for different reasons. "The Beckoning Silence" has a more psychological approach, is more reflective, and describes many other expeditions and events, including historic ones, unlike the earlier book which centred on a particular excursion of Joe Simpson`s.
This book describes his thoughts, feelings and reactions to many different events; there is a particular emphasis on his struggle with the possible beginning of the end of his passion for climbing. It includes a chapter on paragliding, and one on a climb up the Bridalveil Falls in Colorado. I had not realised that people climbed frozen waterfalls, and I was happy, though incredulous, to see the photographs accompanying the text.
Most of the second half of the book concerns an attempt by Simpson and his colleague to climb the north face of the Eiger, and the events surrounding this.
It is well written, clear, and has the detail, intricacy, and emotional expressiveness which are characteristic of this author. I liked the photographs very much, especially the black and white section. This includes a beautiful and fascinating portrait photo of George Mallory and his wife.
As much about introspection and emotions as about mountaineering, the book is excellent and I highly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A DRAMATIC EVEREST ADVENTURE DRYLY TOLD...ZZZZZZZZZ..., 1 Dec 2002
By 
Lawyeraau (Balmoral Castle) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This is the story of the 1963 American Mount Everest Expedition, which made mountaineering history. It saw the first Americans summit Everest via the South Col. It also saw the first climb of Everest by anyone via the West Ridge route, previously believed to be unclimbable.
Not only did Thomas Hornbein and Willi Unsoeld summit Everest via the West Ridge, they traversed the mountain and descended via the South Col route. They were, however, forced to bivouac in the death zone at 28,000 feet without any food, supplemental oxygen, or shelter.
One would think that such a dramatic turn of events high on Everest would be riveting to read. Wrong! Unfortunately, this is the one problem with this book. The story is told in a very dry, dull fashion. It is as if Hornbein were talking about flossing one's teeth rather than about a segment of mountaineering history of which he was an integral part.
Nevertheless, this is a quality book with forty eight terrific photographs that are sure to delight Everest junkies everywhere. No mountaineering library should be without this book, which recounts with detail one of the most significant climbs in the history of the Himalayas.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, but standing on the shoulders of giants., 14 May 2007
By 
C. Chiswell (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Beckoning Silence (Paperback)
Joe Simpson doesn't seem to be the man I'd choose to try climbing with - some major catastrophe always seems to be just over the next pitch. In 'Beckoning Silence', Joe wrestles with the deaths of some of his closest friends, and a couple more near escapes, and attempts to capture his deliberations as to whether to leave climbing altogether.

Simpson continues with his great writing style in Silence, with an ability to capture the emotion of the mountains that he is climbing. He manages to make you feel involved in each of his expeditions, even if you've never climbed before. His choice of drama gives the book a power to take your breath away, and he can make you feel like you are hanging eight feet out over a two thousand feet drop, all from the safety of your living room.

However, I don't feel this is his best book. I felt he was guilty of borrowing too heavily from other authors, particularly 'The White Spider', and the rapid changes of continent deny the reader the chance to feel part of the sustained climb that drove you forward in the other books. My greatest disappointment though was a feeling that he trivialises the deaths of other mountaineers, which is sad, as I think this is the opposite of his intent in writing the book. In attempting to set each scene, he uses descriptions of each accident, I feel, rather too sensationally. With unnerving rapidity, he moves from one macabre scene to the next, more to maintain momentum, than perhaps offer a fitting memorial to each climber. Without spoiling the latter part of the book, as he describes the deaths of some climbers on the Eiger, you feel more like a gory tourist, rather than a comrade to the souls described, and this left me very empty. I wanted time to contemplate each of these men, the lives abruptly ended, and I felt the pace of the book denied me this.

This ultimately prevented the book from reaching a conclusion, and although this may be where Simpson ended up in his personal journey, I do not feel it is a fair place to leave the reader.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling tale of perseverence in the face of adversity, 22 July 1999
By A Customer
This classic mountaineering volume was written at a time when Himalayan mountaineering was entering a new and exciting phase - a purer seduction of the mountain, where more aesthetic methods and lines of ascent override the basic urge to reach the summit (and nothing else). Tom Hornbein was definitely cast into this new mold, although at the time he was probably not aware of it. This expedition, which was on many occasions threatened with defeat, succeeded in a mountaineering tour de force. Not the ascent by the "yak route", but by pushing a route up one of the most formidable ridges anywhere in the Himalayan chain and traversing the mountain back along the south-east ridge. Without the grit and determination of Tom and Willi, this would have been just another ascent of Everest to add to the ever-growing list. Their dream was borne out in the end. Tom's open and unprepossessing prose is a refreshing change from the pithy accounts of yesteryear, giving the reader more insight into the inner workings, and tensions, of any large mountaineering expedition. A must read for any serious mountaineering scholar.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A personal, bittersweet love letter to mountaineering, 5 Aug 2005
This review is from: The Beckoning Silence (Paperback)
I have enoyed all Simpson's books, but this is my favourite. It deals more with the author's clearly painful decision to give up climbing. After the tragic (not climbing-related, as it happens) death of a close friend, and with the list of departed acquaintances just getting longer, Simpson has decided to pack in the climbing game.

Before bowing out, he decides to have a crack at the north face of the Eiger, possibly one of the most mythical and dangerous climbs in Europe if not the world.

This book explores Simpson's relationship with the mountains, and recounts some of what may be his final climbs (from Colorada to Switzerland). It's written in the same dark, sometimes abrasive, and often witty style anyone who's read his books will be familiar with. It's also possibly his most touching book, showing more maturity than the fantastic Touching the Void.

And of course there's the Eiger. It's a mountain that fascinates many people, mountaineers or no. It clearly represents something powerful to the author, who, having read Harrer's The White Spider in his youth, has a long-held fear/respect/awe for the mountain.

This book drew me in, made me shiver, and even hurt at times. If you only ready one book about the Eiger, read this. If you only read one book about mountaineering ... this book is a good place to start, because you'll want to read on, I guarantee you!
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