Paperback: Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know, by Ranulph Fiennes

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The Independent Culture

When the author cut off the fingers and thumb of his frost-bitten hand in 1999 the operation is described in detail ("like sawing a log") The Times advised him to "opt for holidays in Spain". As we learnt this week, when he was defeated near the summit of Everest, he still shuns the costas. His weirdly enthralling book describes Fiennes's previous defeat on Everest ("My thoughts were simple: I am having another heart attack"), but not why he keeps at it. Eclectic appendices include a Fiennes family tree from 1100 and a list of equipment for your own polar expedition.