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Into The Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest by [Wade, Davis]
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Into The Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 203 customer reviews

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Review

"Maybe the prime minister should read it" (Stephen Frears Guardian)

"I was enthralled by Wade Davis’s Into the Silence, an account of three failed Everest expeditions leading up to the death of Mallory in 1924, which brilliantly places those feats of endurance in the context of British imperialism and the psychological aftermath of the First World War" (Ben Macintyre The Times)

"I was captivated. Wade Davis has penned an exceptional book on an extraordinary generation. From the pathos of the trenches to the inevitable tragedies high on Everest this is a book deserving of awards" (Joe Simpson, author of Touching the Void)

"Powerful and profound, a moving, epic masterpiece of literature, history and hope" (Sunday Times)

"Brilliantly engrossing...a superb book... At once a group biography of remarkable characters snatched from oblivion, an instant classic of mountaineering literature, a study in imperial decline and an epic of exploration" (Nigel Jones Guardian)

Review

"The First World War, the worst calamity humanity has ever inflicted on itself, still reverberates in our lives. In its immediate aftermath, a few young men who had fought in it went looking for a healing challenge, and found it far from the Western Front. In recreating their astonishing adventure, Wade Davis has given us an elegant meditation on the courage to carry on."
--George F. Will
"I was captivated. Wade Davis has penned an exceptional book on an extraordinary generation. They do not make them like that any more. And there would always only ever be one Mallory. From the pathos of the trenches to the inevitable tragedies high on Everest this is a book deserving of awards. Monumental in its scope and conception it nevertheless remains hypnotically fascinating throughout. A wonderful story tinged with sadness."
--Joe Simpson, author of "Touching the Void"
""Into the Silence" is utterly fascinating, and grippingly well-written. With extraordinary skill Wade Da

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4092 KB
  • Print Length: 690 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (6 Oct. 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005LPE5T6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 203 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #61,694 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
A magnificent work which took the author over ten years to research and write. The sub-title is important. This is as much about the war experiences that shaped the men of the 1921-24 expeditions. Each one had been doctors, infantry or artillery officers in the worst of the Western Front battles. From that, they were determined, resourceful and infinitely brave. The war experiences were searing. Mallory wrote home from the front, "If hereafter, I say to a friend "Go to Hell", he will probably reply, "Well I don't mind much if I do. Haven't I perhaps been there"?

The central figure is Mallory, friend of Keynes, Graves and much of what was later the Bloomsbury set. An enigmatic figure, Davis captures the genius of the man. It is Mallory who reconnoitered and figured the route up the North Cole. Mallory who established the Camp systems. Mallory who confronted the Second Step. Any climber on Everest follows his footsteps.

Davis gives us a rich cast: Sikhdar, who calculated the exact height of Everest within 28' in 1854 from observations 120 miles away, using pen and paper; why we call it the Norton Couloir, why all parties when climbing from the North, use the East Rongbuk; Somervell, a doctor mentored by Treves, who coughed up his entire mucous membrane and worked as a hospital volunteer in India for 40 years; Finch, who pioneered Oxygen use, climbed higher that anyone at the time and was the reluctant step father of Peter; Odell who made the famous sighting and climbed to Camp VI twice in four days and slept at over 23,000' for twelve days.

The courage and determination of the men, using primitive equipment and improvising on camps and routes, is breathtaking. And contrasts with the Valley Boy insensitivity of the crew that found Mallory in 1999.

I found myself flipping to the contemporary photographs of the climbers, trying to reconcile their actions and feats with the faces looking at us from 90 years ago. This is an epic book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wade Davis has set himself a challenge trying to write about the series of Expeditions to Everest by the British in the 1920s which eventually led to Mallory and Irvine's deaths during the 1924 summit attempt. Not only is the story long and complicated (those expecting just the story of the final expedition might be surprised by how much exploration and preparation went before - Mallory doesn't even feature until a good way through the book), but Davis is also keen to explain the motivations of those involved and the cultural importance of climbing Everest in broader terms, with a focus on the Great War and on British Imperialism.

At first, I didn't entirely buy into his focus on the War. It seemed a bit overstated, but I read on because the stories are well told and full of interesting detail - his research is really exhaustive, as the huge notes section demonstrates. Eventually, it really does knit together, and you begin to understand the thoughts and actions of the climbers very much in the light of their experience and era. I came away not only with a better understanding of the events he focuses on, but also with more knowledge about the politics and arts of the period. Davis seems comfortable writing about arts, literature, Tibetan Buddhism, and a range of other subjects which really help to add context to his story.

So in summary, a great tale, thoroughly engaging and well-paced, with interesting details and speculations throughout. One of the most enjoyable and informative books I've read in some time, and a book which kindles your interest in a variety of topics and sent me off with an interest in a string of other topics. You can't ask for much more than that...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This remarkable book is not just about certain survivors of the 1st World War who go on to attack Everest. It is about the British way of life and how it changed after WW1. It makes uncomfortable reading.

I have to admit to anger as I was reminded of the horrors of the 1st World War. For example that '95% of officers had never read a military book of any kind. This cult of the amateur, militarily anti-intellectual, resulted in a leadership that was obtuse, wilfully intolerant of change, and incapable for the most part of innovative thought or action'. 'In four years at the head of the largest army the British Empire had ever placed in the field, a force that would suffer 2,568,834 casualties in France and Belgium alone, Haig never once visited the front; nor did he visit the wounded'.

'Karl Blenk, a German machine gunner of the 169th Regiment, wrote; "When the English started advancing we were very worried; they looked as though they must overrun our trenches. We were very surprised to see them walking, we had never seen that before. I could see them everywhere; there were hundreds. The officers were in front. I noticed one of them walking calmly, carrying a walking stick. When we started firing we just had to load and reload. They went down in their hundreds. You didn't have to aim. We just fired into them. If only they had run they would have overwhelmed us.'

Newspapers reports of battles 'simply echoed official bulletins, which had little connection to reality. "Sir Douglas Haig telephoned last night" the Times noted on July 3, "to report that the general situation was favourable... Everything had gone well... effective progress... We got our first thrust well home, and there is every reason to be sanguine as to the result...
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