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C. Thwaites (USA)

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

86 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent triumph, 29 Jan. 2012
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.

The Man From Beijing
The Man From Beijing
by Henning Mankell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.99

7 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Caution: banality on every page, 27 Dec. 2010
This review is from: The Man From Beijing (Hardcover)
Q: Do I blame the author or the translator? A: the author

This is one of the most puerile pedagogic rants you will ever read. Let's start with the plot. You can guess who of the "dun it" by page 70 of the 359 page book. Clue? He does one of those Conan Doyle alkali planes tricks. Then there's the circa 1970s NUS bromides throughout the book. The evils doers are all capitalists, with a special place reserved for Americans. Then there's colonialists. The author can't seem to maintain his calm as he describes Ian Smith's Rhodesia as brutal, racist and fascist on three successive pages. Mugabe is "misunderstood and fair" and, best of all, the Cultural Revolution a "whoops but well intentioned mistake" that modern China should yearn to return to.

It's palpable nonsense from beginning to end and swarms with that upper class superiority that only the Swedes can engineer. Don't bother. My copy hit the trash the day after Christmas...and I paid for it.

Moto GP Review 2005 [DVD]
Moto GP Review 2005 [DVD]
Offered by Special Interests
Price: £14.62

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dorna Ad has some racing scenes, 1 Feb. 2006
This review is from: Moto GP Review 2005 [DVD] (DVD)
What has happened to Duke? There were 17 rounds in 2005. In a DVD advertised as 180 minutes, we get, in every round, four separate plays of the cartoon characters with a synthesized “Are you ready boots?” Then each round has stock tourist footage of places like Bruno, Sachsenring and Assen (just in case you were planning a visit other than to see a GP). Then there’s an on-board lap (apparently useful to some GP riders) but unlike past years, they don’t even bother to inform who the rider is. So that’s a full 119 minutes of filler. They cut all but 15 seconds from the post-race interviews. And they cut all 125 and 250 coverage, a feature of prior years. Finally, there’s the racing. Some of the most exciting footage ever, reduced to soporific four-minute outtakes. Compare the same company’s 2002 or 2001 offerings and it’s clear someone at Duke is ripe for new challenges. Guys, it’s quite simple. Show the races, comment on them.

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