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Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest Kindle Edition

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Length: 690 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, October 2011: It’s tempting to call Wade Davis’s magnificent Into the Silence an Everest of a book. But that would be misleading. It is more like K2: challenging, technically complex, and hugely rewarding upon completion. The book starts off not with mountaineering, but with vivid, novelistic descriptions of the horrors of the First World War. Years of waste and destruction in the trenches, Davis argues, “led a desperate nation to embrace the assault on Everest as a gesture of imperial redemption.” Those who endured attempts on the summit all bore the scars of the Great War—and they were drawn to the mountain by an almost contradictory desire for conquest and spiritual ablution. At the center of it all is Mallory, whose eventual disappearance effectively closed that chapter in mountaineering. His utterance “because it’s there” became a new war cry, but he climbed for deeper reasons entirely. -- Chris Schluep


"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

Product Details

  • File Size: 4015 KB
  • Print Length: 690 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0375408894
  • Publisher: Vintage (October 18, 2011)
  • Publication Date: October 18, 2011
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004KPM1HG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #215,401 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

145 of 146 people found the following review helpful By NSW TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
George Mallory is one of the names that those interested in Mt. Everest probably know in some detail. He's a legend, the man who disappeared not far from Everest's peak in 1924, and leading to the mystery if Hillary and Norgay were actually the first two to make the summitt.

But, often, that's ALL he is, just a legend, without a person behind all the effort. That's what he was to me. Sort of "this other guy tried to climb Everest, but he didn't make it." Then when he was found in 1999, it added to the legend, but still not the person. I thought it was neat at the time, finding him after all those years; a mystery solved.

"Into the Silence" provides the context and combination of vast research so a reader sees Mallory as the full-color adventurer of his time. It wasn't that he simply set out to climb Everest; what makes the story so vast is author Wade Davis' careful walkthrough of the decades of planning and imagination that were required by him and many others for years before his climb. Davis describes the entire story, in pinpoint - often heart-wrenching, though sometimes boring - detail. It makes the reader appreciate how impossible the 1924 effort really was, how so far ahead of their time were Mallory and Sandy Irvine. It's fair to compare it to the moon landing - it never should have worked, not with the equipment they had. And unfortunately, for Mallory and Irvine it didn't work.

The epic scope takes readers from the World War I battlefields to colonial India to Everest's North Col in equal detai and description. No part of the journey receives lesser treatment.

Sometime that is too much. The book is nearly 700 pages, and of course it could be edited.
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86 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Richard of Connecticut VINE VOICE on October 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you have any interest at all in understanding what it is like to attempt to conquer the tallest mountain in the world, your search has ended. This is the book for you. As you know, sometimes a book can surprise you. Expecting one thing the reader is startled to find another. This is the way it is with Wade Davis' treatment of George Mallory's three attempts to be the first person to climb to the summit of Mount Everest. No worthwhile detail is spared in the writing of this book.

Davis accomplishes three major goals in writing this book, whether they were intended or not we do not know, but this is what you get out of pouring your energy into this book.

1st You will understand mountain climbing. You will learn more about the subject than you could possibly want to know. I would think that this book should be mandatory reading for anyone who is involved in this sport. The agony, the pain, the skills needed, and the sheer willpower to climb this mountain or any mountain is clearly stated, and done so in a powerful narrative that will live beyond the book. You feel the pain of the climbers, and the exhilaration of each success. When they are disappointed, so are you.

2nd You will learn more about World War I referred to at the time as the Great War than you would learn, if you read a book entirely devoted to the war. Author Wade Davis has captured the war in all its detail. From trench warfare, to Mustard gas to the futility of the decisions that were made that unnecessarily cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of English boys in the prime of their lives. No doubt is left in the readers mind that England basically lost its status as the number one military power in the world when it lost a generation of its youth - the country simply never recovered.
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96 of 113 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Balbach on October 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a hard book to review because of the mix of good and bad. Davis spent ten years writing and a lifetime reading, the amount of research is epic, it's probably the definitive book on the first three Everest expeditions 1921-24, no small thing considering so many other books. Yet most of the book describes background and logistics with not much time on the mountain by comparison. We learn about the history of the people involved (dozens), history of Tibet, history of WWI, trips to India, trips to Tibet, trips across Tibet, trips back from Tibet. It is highly researched and often boring by its nature since so much happens that is banal. The famous 1924 expedition in which Mallory dies is well told but accounts for only about 50 of 576 pages, or less than 10% of the book. On the other hand there are parts that are really interesting, such as the WWI biographies, and Davis' central theme that the wars silent but ever present influence on the expedition ultimately decided its fate.

The annotated bibliography is equally epic, nearly 50 pages long of recommendations for further reading, it's an impressive Everest Geek-fest, probably the best bibliography of its type and worth owning for alone. I'm not sure who to recommend this book to, certainly anyone who has been to Everest, or with an interest in Himalayan climbing history. If your looking for an introduction to Mallory or a gripping mountain adventure, it may be a long hard climb.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Phelps Gates VINE VOICE on September 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Wade Davis's research is prodigious! You'll find out everything you wanted to know (and perhaps more than that) about the Everest expeditions of the early twenties. The book gets off to a rather slow start, and I found myself wondering when it would get into the good stuff, but after fifty pages or so, I was completely hooked and found it hard to put down. Davis gives a good deal of attention to the experiences of the 1914-18 war; I hadn't realized the extent to which the events of that war affected the lives of almost everyone who was on these expeditions: in fact, a large number of the climbers had not fully recovered from their wounds, physical and mental, suffered in the war. And the author doesn't shrink from a thorough and balanced discussion of Mallory's sexuality.

The book isn't perfect. There's so much detail that I sometimes found myself losing track of who was who: it might have been useful to include a brief roster of each expedition summarizing who the members were. And I'd have liked to hear a bit more about the quixotic Maurice Wilson, who gets only a couple of passing mentions. But these are quibbles. There's a lot of good reading here.
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