Into the Silence, By Wade Davis
Boyd Tonkin is Senior Writer and a columnist at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Literary Editor at The Independent, and before that Social Policy Editor and then Books Editor at the New Statesman magazine. He has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes and has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize. In 2001, he re-founded the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize for literature in translation, and serves on its judging panel every year.
Saturday 13 October 2012
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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