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Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest Hardcover – Sep 27 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Canada; First Edition edition (Sept. 27 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067697919X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0676979190
  • Product Dimensions: 16.6 x 4.4 x 24.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #42,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


WINNER 2012 – Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction
FINALIST 2012 – CBA Libris Award for Non-Fiction Book of the Year
FINALIST 2012 – Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction
FINALIST 2012 – Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-Fiction
FINALIST 2012 – Banff Mountain Book Competition for Mountain & Wilderness Literature

"The best new book I've read in which the War figures hugely is by Wade Davis and it's called Into the Silence… I don't think I've read anything that has shocked me as much as these accounts did. Written with an extraordinary kind of address and a feel for its barbarity that is really hair raising."
—Andrew Motion, The Guardian (podcast)

"Into the Silence is a breathtaking triumph. An astonishing piece of research, it is also intensely moving, evoking the courage, chivalry and sacrifice that drove Mallory and his companions through the war and to ever greater heights."
—William Shawcross

"Into the Silence is utterly fascinating, and grippingly well written. With extraordinary skill Wade Davis manages to weave together such disparate strands as Queen Victoria's Indian Raj, the 'Great Game' of intrigue against Russia, the horrors of the Somme, and Britain's obsession to conquer the world's highest peak, all linking to that terrible moment atop Everest when Mallory fell to his death. The mystery of whether he and Irving ever reached the summit remains tantalizingly unsolved. Into the Silence deserves to be an instant bestseller."
—Alistair Horne

"The meticulously researched and definitive account of a legend… Fascinating and immensely enjoyable."
—Leo Houlding

"The First World War, the worst calamity humanity has ever inflicted on itself, still reverberates in our lives. In its immediate aftermath, a few young men who had fought in it went looking for a healing challenge, and found it far from the Western Front. In recreating their astonishing adventure, Wade Davis has given us an elegant meditation on the courage to carry on."
—George F. Will

"Wade Davis' mesmerizing telling of Mallory's fabled story gives new and revealing weight to the significance of its post-war era and to Mallory's dazzlingly accomplished and courageous companions. Into the Silence succeeds not only because Davis' research was prodigious, but because every sentence has been struck with conviction, every image evoked with fierce reverence - for the heartbreaking twilight era, for the magnificent resilience of its survivors, for their mission, for Mallory, for his mountain. An epic worthy of its epic."
—Caroline Alexander, author of The Endurance and The War That Killed Achilles

"I was captivated. They were a gilded generation and for me the nineteen twenties and thirties were the golden age of mountaineering. Wade Davis has penned an exceptional book on an extraordinary generation. They do not make them like that anymore. And there would always only ever be one Mallory. From the pathos of the trenches to the inevitable tragedies high on Everest this is a book deserving of awards. 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

About the Author

WADE DAVIS is the bestselling author of several books, including The Serpent and the Rainbow and One River, and is an award-winning anthropologist, ethnobotanist, filmmaker and photographer. Davis currently holds the post of National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, and divides his time between Washington, DC, where he teaches, and northern British Columbia.

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Customer Reviews

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on Oct. 13 2011
Format: Hardcover
A deeply moving epic that takes you from the depths of human misery in the trenches of France to the roof of the world in Tibet; from missiles and mud to mountain vistas, and the group of men who represented some of the best of the survivors of the "lost generation", yes, warts and all.

In 1999 Mallory's body was discoverd on Everest giving us no clue as to wether or not he had summited. With none of the modern climbing gear that is now taken for granted, we know that he and his partner at least came very close. After reading the book it somehow dosn't matter.....but that missing picture of Mallory's wife has made me a believer.

I very much appreciated the references to the Royal Newfoundland Regiment, the "Blue Puttees". Who knows what heights those young men could have gained had they lived.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By bookweasel on Oct. 14 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An amazing read. Starts with the Great War stuff. General Haig and his cronies were definitely completely stupid and cowards too. None of the general staff went near where the fighting was. They sat miles back and sent hundreds of thousands to meaningless deaths. Yes that was hundreds of thousands. Such a waste for no reason.

On to the Everest expeditions of 1921, 1922 and 1924. Much to be learned here. The development of mountaineering techniques including the use of oxygen. How the area was mapped by a Canadian. The amazing stupidity of the Alpine Club members who made decisions entirely based on class without regard for skills and abilities. How the Tibetans lived particularly in relation to their religion.

A terrific read on so many levels."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Allan Wakefield on Dec 30 2011
Format: Hardcover
Wade Davis does an outstanding job in "Into the Silence". He describes the early attempts to climb Mount Everest, focusing on the men involved and placing them in their historical context-- World War I, the British Raj and etc. This is an extraordinary tale, thoroughly researched and imaginatively told. I thoroughly recommend it.

Allan Wakefield
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Ball on Sept. 28 2012
Format: Hardcover
I am not a mountain climber, but an admirer of those who are. The Mallory story has fascinated me for years, but until this magisterial and magnificent new book made its appearance I hadn't read much about him. I appreciated many things, especially the description of the WW1 atrocities.I've read a few books on the subject by Canadian authors and have been greatly moved by the sacrifice, the innocence, and maddening inflexibility of the Brits under which we fought. (The same bull-headed inflexibility almost led to the defeat of the British navy at Jutland.) Davis's weaving of this background story into the Everest story is masterful, moving, and helpful in understanding the milieu of the times that lead to Everest.

I was also grateful for the author's treatment of Canadian Arthur Wakefield who accomplished so much in his lifetime, yet was under-appreciated by Mallory. Until now I knew nothing of Wakefield, but I plan to pursue finding out more about him. There was also another Canadian Edward Wheeler, of whom Mallory also held a less than stellar opinion, probably because Mallory suffered from a condition that held colonials in low regard. And yet Wheeler was critical to Mallory's team. He was also later knighted for his services in mapping India for the Brits. To my mind Mallory is emblematic of the easy disregard Canadians suffer from others who know little about us and care even less.

The characters in this book all stand out clearly and sympathetically. They moved me a great deal. The descriptions of Tibet and other places (not to mention England at that time) left clear impressions on my mind and in my heart. Davis's language is always clear and affective. Overall, the treatment of the reasons why men did these things is simply wonderful. The author has great insight and delicacy.

All in all a great, great read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on March 20 2012
Format: Hardcover
Davis has written a very authoritative and engrossing history about the men and times behind two attempts on Mt. Everest in the early twenties. He is not satisfied with just describing the adventure behind the initial assault and final ascent on this mountain but wants to create a more complete understanding of the circumstances surrounding this fatefully defining moment in modern history. The lives of unique individuals like Howard-Bury, Mallory, Irvine and Noel are put under the microscope of intense scrutiny as Davis tries to fathom how they prepared for this Herculean undertaking. While the expedition tragically failed in 1924 in that it did not achieve its ultimate goal, its design, purpose, and execution still provide an important insight into the nature of the times and the people who were challenged to scale the rarefied atmosphere of exceedingly high mountains. Having earlier read Jeffry Archer's 'Paths of Glory' and examined its heroic belief that Mallory, the Cambridge aesthete and athlete, actually made it to the top before falling to his death, I took on 'Into the Silence' to learn another part of the story. One, there is a lot more to this tale than just an unsolved mystery that has already been handled in true adventure fashion by one of Britain's more able popular novelists. In Davis's very polished account, the reader will learn about the historical context in which this climb was undertaken, the mental state of its members, the ever present perils facing them, and the long-term knock-on effects of their incredible efforts. In the first instance, it was the military horrors and imperial failings of war that indirectly led to this quixotic quest for glory.Read more ›
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