Into the Silence

Into the Silence

The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest

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A magnificent work of history, biography and adventure.

If the quest for Mount Everest began as a grand imperial gesture, as redemption for an empire of explorers that had lost the race to the Poles, it ended as a mission of regeneration for a country and a people bled white by war. Of the twenty-six British climbers who, on three expedtions (1921-24), walked 400 miles off the map to find and assault the highest mountain on Earth, twenty had seen the worst of the fighting. Six had been severely wounded, two others nearly died of disease at the Front, one was hospitalized twice with shell shock. Three as army surgeons dealt for the duration with the agonies of the dying. Two lost brothers, killed in action. All had endured the slaughter, the coughing of the guns, the bones and barbed wire, the white faces of the dead.

In a monumental work of history and adventure, ten years in the writing, Wade Davis asks not whether George Mallory was the first to reach the summit of Everest, but rather why he kept on climbing on that fateful day. His answer lies in a single phrase uttered by one of the survivors as they retreated from the mountain: "The price of life is death." Mallory walked on because for him, as for all of his generation, death was but "a frail barrier that men crossed, smiling and gallant, every day." As climbers they accepted a degree of risk unimaginable before the war. They were not cavalier, but death was no stranger. They had seen so much of it that it had no hold on them. What mattered was how one lived, the moments of being alive.

For all of them Everest had become an exalted radiance, a sentinel in the sky, a symbol of hope in a world gone mad.


From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: New York :, Alfred A. Knopf
Copyright Date: ♭2011
ISBN: 9780307401854
Branch Call Number: Online eBook
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file, rda
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc

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h
HowardWilliams
Feb 01, 2016

Excellently written, extensively researched. How did the WWI get to be so poorly fought, what were the Brits thinking? Good to see Wheeler's (Canadian) contribution to Mallory's first attempt so well documented.

KCLSLibsRecommend Apr 10, 2014

I recommend Wade Davis' book for omnivores with an interest in any of the following: uncharted exploration, larger-than-life characters, a world changing at unprecedented speed, World War I, climbing, Tibetan Buddhism, technology, politics, social class, empires rising and falling, and more.

It sounds chaotic but Davis weaves it all together so well that before you tire of one topic, another rises to catch your attention.

Spoiler alert on a few good stories: one of the principal Everest explorers had both legs nearly severed in World War I - his physician advised him to avoid walking uphill.

Another climber previously explored the source of the Nile and averted a rhino charge by opening a pink umbrella in its face. The lucky pink umbrella also survived the trip to Tibet (they don't make 'em like that any more)

v
voltaire10
Oct 30, 2013

A great book to read before Remembrance Day to be reminded of the sacrifices made by Allied soldiers during the First World War. Wade Davis provides a great story, very well researched, that describes in detail what was an act of "imperial redemption" following wartime destruction. A great read...

m
MonicaKT
Jul 29, 2013

Excellent book! Wade Davis researched for 10 years to complete this book - lots of detail and very interesting - still leaves you wondering if Mallory & Irvine ever reached the summit of Everest.

stephotography Jul 10, 2013

Though I agree with other readers that this is, indeed, an excellent account of the early exploration of Tibet and Everest, I found the book to be long and at times rambling. There are points where the story slows down to a crawl, the story was often bogged down extraneous, unnecessary detail -some of the gory details of the early Afgan wars could have been easily omitted. I am an avid reader of all things related to Everest, and yet I found this book didn't meet my expectations.

WVMLStaffPicks Jun 04, 2013

For those who enjoy reading about mountaineering expeditions, this book delivers epic adventure, tragedy, and a detailed look at the social and historical context. From the days of the “Great Game” to the aftermath of World War I, this book captures an era. George Mallory and most of the other climbers were products of the British public school system—extraordinarily tough athletes who wrote poetry, painted, spoke numerous languages, and tackled Everest in wool coats and leather boots. Having endured the horror of the trenches, the quest to conquer Everest was a search for renewal and redemption for the climbers as well their country.

l
librarianatlarge
Dec 26, 2012

Well researched, well written. Very detailed, especially in the latter part of the book. The chapters on the War are absolutely horrific and illuminate the development of the character and mind set of the men that set off into the unknown in Asia. Doesn't explain the modern people that still climb Everest, though. It is truly amazing that those men were able to achieve what they did with the technology and equipment they had available to them. An enjoyable read and an interesting thesis, though I found myself skipping over much of the minute detail of the treks into the mountains. For anyone interested in George Mallory and Everest, this is an illuminating read.

rsmbarlow Nov 23, 2012

A fantastic book. There are a lot of facets - history, adventure, psychology to name a few. It's long read but really rewarding and definitely deserved the 2012 Samuel Johnson Prize in Non-Fiction. Thanks Wade Davis!

h
hajt3
Jul 14, 2012

detailed personal accounts, in depth research, politics involved, international relations, symbolism post WWI, first hand horrendous accounts of the meaningless and folly of war, decisions made that changed the outcome, endurance and perseverance, extreme hardship some people can endure, adventurous spirit, imperialism, commercialism

b
btwofracas
May 25, 2012

Is there a e-book version?

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