Into the Silence, By Wade Davis

 

To call this epic history of British expeditions to Everest in 1921-24 a mountaineering book would be like dubbing Moby-Dick a whalers' manual.

Acute on the climbing details and the wider context, Davis shines above all in portraits of his haunted, driven principals: Mallory and Irvine, who died so near the summit, and their crazy, noble colleagues.

 All were in their way scarred by the slaughter of the Western Front. To them, to a grieving, exhausted nation, the ever-elusive peak served a "greater quest", to restore glory to a broken world.

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