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Mountains of the Mind: Adventures in Reaching the Summit Paperback – July 13, 2004

4.6 out of 5 stars 439 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Wonderfully illuminating. . . . An exhilarating blend of scholarship and adventure, displaying dazzling erudition, acute powers of analysis, a finely honed sense of cultural history and a passionate sense of the author's engagement with his subject." --Los Angeles Times

“Fascinating stuff. . . a clever premise. . . . Goes back three centuries, showing how a few brainy opinion makers created the outdoor image.” —The New York Times Book Review

"A convincing book of historical evidence alongside his own oxygen-deprived experiences in an attempt to answer the age old question, 'Why climb the mountain?' "--San Francisco Chronicle

“Early mountaineers were lost for words to describe the splendor of the mountains, but Robert Macfarlane is not; in particular, he has a gift for arresting similes.” –The Times Literary Supplement

“Of all the books published to mark the 50th anniversary of climbing Mount Everest Robert Macfarlane’s Mountains of the Mind stands out as by far one of the most intelligent and interesting. . . in a style that shows he can be as poetic as he is plucky.”–The Economist

“At once a fascinating work of history and a beautifully written mediation on how memory, imagination, and the landscape of mountains are joined together in our minds and under our feet.” –Forbes

“A compelling meditation. . . Macfarlane is. . . the perfect mountain guide through blue crevasse fields, ice walls, prayer flags, Sherpas and Shangri Las. He’s been up there, and come back down through the foothills to offer us his thoughtful and gracious elegy, telling us eloquently the secret of it all, which is that no one can ever truly conquer a mountain.”–Benedict Allen, author of The Faber Book of Exploration

“Macfarlane, a mountain lover and climber, has a visceral appreciation of mountains. . . . He is an engaging writer, his commentary, always crisp and relevant, leavened by personal experience beautifully related.”–The Observer (UK)

“Macfarlane writes with tremendous maturity, elegance and control. . . . A powerful debut, a remarkable blend of passion and scholarship.” –Evening Standard (UK)

“Part history, part personal observation, this is a fascinating study of our (sometimes fatal) obsession with height. A brilliant book, beautifully written.” –Fergus Fleming, author of Ninety Degrees North: The Quest for the North Pole

“A new kind of exploration writing, perhaps even the birth of a new genre, which doesn’t just defy classification–it demands a whole new category of its own.”–The Telegraph (UK)

“There are many books on climbing and climbers, and this is one of the best and most unusual I have read.”–The Times (UK)

“An imaginative, original essay in cultural history–a book that evokes as well as investigates the fear and wonder of high places.” –William Fiennes, author of The Snow Geese

“A crisp historical study of the sensations and emotions people have brought to (and taken from) mountains. . . . Macfarlane intelligently probes the push/pull of the peaks. . . . Sharp and enticing.” –Kirkus Reviews

From the Inside Flap

ies ago, mountains were considered forbidding and forbidden—the abodes of dragons and other ill-tempered grotesque beasts. But with the growing recognition that the Earth’s surface had not been created once and for all but was slowly evolving, mountains came to be seen as the unexplored text of the Earth’s story—a terrain that scientists, adventurers, naturalists, and, finally, travelers began to explore. In Mountains of the Mind, Robert Macfarlane blends cultural history, meditation, and memoir to show how early geologists helped transform our perceptions of the wild, chaotic landscapes; how the allure of height increasingly drew fearless climbers, culminating in the romantic figure of George Mallory, the passionate Englishman who died on Mount Everest in 1924; and how the elemental beauty of snow and ice coalesced into an aesthetic of the sublime.
Mountains of the Mind is at once an enthralling work of history, an intimate account of Macfarlane’s own

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Vintage; Reprint edition (July 13, 2004)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 320 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0375714065
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0375714061
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 10.4 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.13 x 0.65 x 7.99 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 439 ratings

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About the author

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Robert Macfarlane is the author of prize-winning and bestselling books about landscape, nature, people and place, including Mountains of the Mind: A History of a Fascination (2003), The Wild Places (2007), The Old Ways (2012), Holloway (2013, with Stanley Donwood and Dan Richards), Landmarks (2015), The Lost Words: A Spell Book (with the artist Jackie Morris, 2017) and Underland: A Deep Time Journey (2019). His work has been translated into many languages, won prizes around the world, and his books have been widely adapted for film, television, stage and radio. He has collaborated with artists, film-makers, actors, photographers and musicians, including Hauschka, Willem Dafoe, Karine Polwart and Stanley Donwood. In 2017 he was awarded the EM Forster Prize for Literature by the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
439 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

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Top reviews from other countries

Podiceps cristatus
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 8, 2019
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17 people found this helpful
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A. G. Young
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating read (but you can keep your crampons - I'm happy to climb by armchair).
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 1, 2021
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jonxboy
4.0 out of 5 stars As ever, Robert McFarlane's writing is beautiful and stimulating
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 19, 2017
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Mark
5.0 out of 5 stars A genuine work of art
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 3, 2017
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Guy
4.0 out of 5 stars An unusual but enjoyable read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 20, 2013
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