A remarkable historical tapestry woven from the superior certainties of imperial Britain, the ghastly experience of war, and the inspiring capacity of humans to persevere, discover, and achieve. For readers not in a rush this is a singular reading experience. — Bill Lewis
The definitive story of the British adventurers who survived the trenches of World War I and went on to risk their lives climbing Mount Everest.
On June 6, 1924, two men set out from a camp perched at 23,000 feet on an ice ledge just below the lip of Everest’s North Col. George Mallory, thirty-seven, was Britain’s finest climber. Sandy Irvine was a twenty-two-year-old Oxford scholar with little previous mountaineering experience. Neither of them returned.
Drawing on more than a decade of prodigious research, bestselling author and explorer Wade Davis vividly re-creates the heroic efforts of Mallory and his fellow climbers, setting their significant achievements in sweeping historical context: from Britain’s nineteen-century imperial ambitions to the war that shaped Mallory’s generation. Theirs was a country broken, and the Everest expeditions emerged as a powerful symbol of national redemption and hope. In Davis’s rich exploration, he creates a timeless portrait of these remarkable men and their extraordinary times.
Wade Davis is the bestselling author of fifteen books, including Into the Silence, The Serpent and the Rainbow, and One River, and is an award-winning anthropologist, ethnographer, writer, photographer, and filmmaker. He currently holds the post of National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and has been named by the National Geographic Society as one of the Explorers for the Millennium. His work has taken him to East Africa, Borneo, Nepal, Peru, and all over the world, but he spends most of his time between Washington, D.C., and northern British Columbia.
Praise for Into the Silence:
"A kaleidoscopic account. . . . Ambitious. . . . Entertaining. . . . Extraordinary."
—The Wall Street Journal
"Brilliantly engrossing. . . . An instant classic of mountaineering literature."
—The Guardian (London)
"Magnificent. . . . Davis tells the full story behind this almost mythic story, imbuing it with historic scope and epic sweep."
—Los Angeles Times
"A masterpiece standing atop its own world, along with the classic Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer."
—Salt Lake City Tribune
"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. . . . At its heart, Into the Silence is an elegy for a lost generation . . . a magnificent, audacious venture."
—The Sunday Times (London)
"Magnificent. . . . Impressive. . . . A vivid account."
—The Observer (London)
"Utterly compelling. . . . Not only a thorough examination of Mallory’s determined advances on Everest, but also insight into the psyche of post-war England. . . . A mesmerizing story of the human spirit."
"Powerful and profound, a moving, epic masterpiece of literature, history and hope."
—The Times (London)
"A brilliant book. I can’t praise it enough."
"Davis has produced a magnificent, rigorously researched account of the expeditions that set out to regain glory for an empire in decline but, instead, created some of the most enduring legends of the 20th century."
"A magnificent work of scholarship . . . and narrative drive. . . . [Davis] has written far and away the best account of this seminal chapter in the epic history of mountaineering."
"Davis is a fine storyteller. . . . A deep current of sympathy runs through the book. . . . One comes away with a feeling almost of tenderness for these men, of admiration for their stoicism in the face of extreme suffering, and their willingness to risk everything for a transcendent ideal. . . . The quest, finally, is not for the summit of Everest, or even for the story of how it eluded these men, but rather for a complex and compassionate understanding of the world in which they lived and died."
—The Boston Globe
"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."
"An exceptional book on an extraordinary generation. . . . 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
"Brilliant. . . . The product of a decade’s research, Into the Silence has two supreme strengths, the first of which is the emotional, spiritual and historical context it provides against which to understand the central events. The other is the author’s effortless knack for sketching character."
"Magnificent. . . . Fascinating. . . . To keep this mass of material from bulging out of the narrative is an impressive feat of literary organization and management."
—Geoff Dyer, The Guardian (London)
"Combining the pace of a thriller with a degree of detail as nuanced as any academic study, this is an atmospheric and exhilarating book."
—Time Out (London)
"Profoundly ambitious. . . . Impressive. . . . Monumental. . . . This is perhaps the first book . . . to survey the matter not as a record of high adventure, exploration, mountaineering technique or political history, but as zeitgeist."
—Jan Morris, The Telegraph (London)
"As breathtaking and astounding as any previous climbing literature."
"[Into the Silence] stands as a near masterpiece."
—The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
"Mesmerizing. . . . An epic worthy of its epic."
—Caroline Alexander, author of The Endurance
"Richly detailed, and often riveting, with vivid portraits of all the players, [Davis’s] book juxtaposes human ambition, courage and adaptive capability with the relentless realities of terrain and weather. It will stand as the definitive treatment of this subject."
"A breathtaking triumph. An astonishing piece of research, it is also intensely moving."
—William Shawcross, author of The Queen Mother
"Davis’s lucid and sometimes haunting prose, his masterly handling of a great volume of material, his vivid portraits of the astonishing cast of characters, and of places as diverse as Newfoundland, the trenches of northern France, and the Tibetan plateau, all contribute to this achievement. . . . A world apart from the gimmicks and media stunts that have surrounded the cult of Mallory and Irvine, Davis’s book stands as a fitting memorial to a story that is at once poignant and stirring."
—The Times Literary Supplement (London)
"Highly absorbing. . . . A heroic attempt to capture the scale of the undertaking to conquer the highest mountain on earth."
—The Newark Star-Ledger
"In recreating their astonishing adventure, Wade Davis has given us an elegant meditation on the courage to carry on."
—George F. Will