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Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 18, 2011
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“Davis’s book, ten years in the writing, is highly absorbing narrative . . . A heroic attempt to capture the scale of the undertaking to conquer the highest mountain on earth.”
—Michael Jeffries, The Newark Star-Ledger
“A magnificent, audacious venture . . . Into the Silence is quite unlike any other mountaineering book. It not only spins a gripping Boy’s Own yarn about the early British expeditions to Everest, but investigates how the carnage of the trenches bled into a desire for redemption at the top of the world. Many of those Himalayan explorers, including Mallory, had served in the corpse-ridden fields of northern France. Indeed, of the 26 men who climbed in the three expeditions, 20 had seen front-line action. Six had been severely wounded, two others hospitalized by disease at the front, and one treated for shell shock. All had seen dozens of friends and countrymen die. For these veterans, the author argues, death had lost its power . . . At its heart, Into the Silence is an elegy for a lost generation.”
—Ed Caesar, The Sunday Times (Front cover)
“A gripper of a read . . . Silence revives the cliff’s-edge drama of those Jazz age climbs and drives home the tragedy of Mallory’s death.”
—Bruce Barcott, Outside
“The men in this story had, for the most part, been young in 1914, bright and energetic and full of dreams. By 1918 those who had survived had seen and done things that no one should have to know about, and Davis does a magnificent job detailing their experiences, setting up the rest of the story—the expeditionary saga—as a logical response, even an inspired rejoinder to the soul-destroying realities of war. . . it is perhaps the book’s signature achievement that [Davis] keeps the narrative zipping along toward its inexorable and tragic conclusion while so thoroughly and persuasively contextualizing key events.”
—Christina Thompson, The Boston Globe
“This profoundly ambitious book aims high itself, because it sets the subject of Everest in a specific historical context . . . . Davis’s monumental work ranges . . . widely through the matter of Everest, both on and off the mountain, with harrowing descriptions of life and death on the Western Front, with frank dissections of rivalries, motives, inadequacies and confusions, and measured character studies.”
—Jan Morris, The Telegraph
“A meticulous recreation . . . The death in 1912 of Captain Scott and his companions in the Antarctic set a precedent of sacrifice for the generation of young British men who, a few years later, would hurl themselves into the maelstrom of the Great War. That Scott’s expedition was, according to later accounts, doomed by incompetent leadership only makes its failure seem more prophetic. Now, in Wade Davis’s magnificent new book, the remaining goal of imperial exploration is seen as an outcome of—and response to—the First World War. While Scott’s expedition was, in some ways, an exercise in heroic futility, the conquest of Mount Everest could help to exorcise the massed ghosts of the dead.”
—Geoff Dyer, The Guardian
“[A] meticulous history . . . Culminating in detailed accounts of the ascents that astutely weigh events and controversies, this vital contribution to Everest literature should rivet readers.”
—Gilbert Taylor, Booklist
“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 anymore. 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 Davis manages to weave together such disparate strands as Queen Victoria’s Indian Raj, the ‘Great Game’ of intrigue against Russia, the horrors of the Somme, and Britain’s obsession to conquer the world’s highest peak, all linking to that terrible moment atop Everest when Mallory fell to his death. The mystery of whether he and Irving ever reached the summit remains tantalizingly unsolved.”
—Alistair Horne, author of The Price of Glory: Verdun 1916
“Into the Silence is a breathtaking triumph. An astonishing piece of research, it is also intensely moving, evoking the courage, chivalry, and sacrifice that drove Mallory and his companions through the war and to ever greater heights.”
—William Shawcross, author of The Queen Mother
“Wade Davis’s mesmerizing telling of George Mallory’s fabled story gives new and revealing weight to the significance of this post-war era and to his dazzlingly accomplished and courageous companions. Into the Silence succeeds not only because Davis’s research is prodigious, but because every sentence has been struck with conviction, every image evoked with fierce reverence—for the heartbreaking twilight era, for the magnificent resilience of its survivors, for their mission, for Mallory, for his mountain. An epic worth of its epic.”
—Caroline Alexander, author of The Endurance and The War That Killed Achilles
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am reading this book on Kindle and am seriously missing maps and photographs, so am resorting to internet searches for lots of reference information. Read morePublished 25 days ago by Chicka
There is no book I’ve read with more pleasure than this account of the context and history of the first three expeditions to climb Mt. Everest. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
The best non-fiction book I have read in memory. It covers the decline of the British Empire, the horror of WW I and the destruction of a generation, the raj, the greatest... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Michael E. Maffett
This book is well worth reading, although its density of facts and details may deter you initially. It tells the story of WW1, through the lives of the young people who fought and... Read morePublished 3 months ago by William J Maierhofer
That expeditions of this magnitude were launched while England attempted to recover from war, the sheer challenge of getting to Everest prior to modern transportation, the... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Jackie Linehan
While I have no desire to climb a mountain I always enjoy these types of books. My sympathies have always been with the Sherpas who seldom get enough credit for their bravery and... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Diane
Having been an avid fan of Everest history for many years I found "Into The Silence" to be THE comprehensive analysis of the geography, culture, politics and individual... Read morePublished 6 months ago by DJ Goodman