24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Villain: The Life of Don Whillans (Hardcover)
I think I've read all of Jim Perrin's previous books - they are all quite superb. I had also been aware that this book was in the process of being written - or had been written - for years. The reason for the delay in publication is explained in the introduction - but it was worth the wait. Quite simply, for anyone with even the slightest interest in climbing history, this book is sensational.
This is a biography of Don Whillans, maybe the greatest mountaineer of all time. The question of whether this is true - just how good, in a relative sense, was he - is one of the central themes of the book. There are two others that stand out. The first is an exploration of the fine line between myth and reality. The second theme is wasted talent - in a sport where many exponents continue at the highest level into their 40s and 50s, Whillans went downhill rapidly (metaphorically of course) after the 1970 ascent of Annapurna's South Face at the age of 38. Perrin's analysis of why this was so offers genuine insight into the nature and causes of motivation, which speaks beyond the confines of the tale in question.
Some of this involves technical aspects of climbing. For instance Perrin's consideration of the "Brown vs Whillans" debate cannot help being technical, and will entertain anyone with an established interest. But a key feature of this book is that for those unacquainted with the technicalities of climbing, Perrin offers some of the most transparent explanation you will find anywhere.
Bottom line - its great.
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Initial post: 10 Oct 2009 18:29:06 BDT
P Draper says:
Don wasn`t the greatest mountaineer of all time, that title goes to Mesner.
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