- Hardcover: 287 pages
- Publisher: Mountaineers Books (Sept. 1 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 089886741X
- ISBN-13: 978-0898867411
- Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.2 x 24.1 cm
- Shipping Weight: 590 g
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,749,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Wildest Dream: The Biography of George Mallory Hardcover – Sep 1 2000
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In 1924, a 37-year-old English schoolmaster and war veteran named George Mallory bid farewell to his beloved wife and children and went off to Tibet, where he intended to climb the north face of Mount Everest, a feat that had never been achieved. He was warned that the approach might not be attainable--and that, in any event, humans might not be able to survive at such altitudes without oxygen. But in that fine British spirit of dauntlessness, Mallory pressed on all the same, and he and his novice companion Andrew Irvine did not survive.
When Mallory's frozen body was found on the high slopes of Everest in 1999, it touched off a wave of interest in the question of whether he had reached the top before falling to his death--which, if so, would unseat Edmund Hillary's 1953 expedition as the first to summit. Peter and Leni Gillman, themselves mountaineers, hint that he did, drawing on evidence that is at best circumstantial but compelling all the same. Their interest in this biography, however, is to provide a more complete picture of Mallory as a man of his time, who was a familiar among the Bloomsbury set of writers, a loving husband and father, an accomplished scholar and teacher, and a modest hero who, though not technically the best climber of his time, never refused a challenge. The Gillmans acquit themselves in this task very well, and they offer a fascinating reconstruction of what they imagine to be Mallory's last moments on earth. Their book makes a fine companion to Conrad Anker and David Roberts's The Lost Explorer and David Breashears and Audrey Salkeld's Last Climb. --Gregory McNamee
From Publishers Weekly
Why did George Mallory, his 1924 expedition in treacherous straits, nevertheless make a last-ditch attempt to go for the summit of Mt. EverestAa decision that cost the lives of this seasoned climber and his young climbing partner, Andrew Irvine? To the Gillmans, British journalists and mountaineers who together retraced Mallory's 1921 reconnaissance expedition, the answer is plain: he hoped to resolve the conflict at the core of his marriage, to obviate the need for further expeditions and further separations from his beloved wife, Ruth. This vivid, illustrated biography is both a moving tribute to Mallory and a fresh reappraisal of the man and the legends surrounding him. While the authors take no position on whether or not Mallory and Irvine reached Everest's acmeAa controversy intensified by the discovery of Mallory's body in 1999Athey provide a useful summary of the ongoing debate. Drawing liberally on letters between Mallory and his wife, the Gillmans chart the highs and lows of a marriage strained by his periodic absences. While mountain climbing was for decades an imperialist's sport, Mallory did not fit the mold. A rector's son, he became a Fabian socialist and agnostic at Cambridge, making friends with poet Rupert Brooke, Robert Graves and Bloomsbury painter Duncan Grant, and indulging in a brief homosexual affair. Mallory's literary output includes a study of Boswell and an intense love sonnet to fianc?e Ruth. Among the spate of recent books on Mallory's Everest expeditions, this biography stands out for its well-rounded, sensitive portrait of a restless, thoughtful adventurer. Photos. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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If you are looking for a great book on its own, or as a companion to this work, "Ghosts of Everest: The Search For Mallory And Irvine", is excellent. This second book is a documentary of the expedition for the answers to the fate of the two climbers, and it is extremely well done. "The Wildest Dream" also does much to clarify the rock climbing abilities of Mr. Mallory, which some historians have called into question, and have used as a basis for their position he never made it. Both these books (for this non-climber) put this issue to rest.
This book explores Mr. Mallory as a Family man, a Father, a Soldier, as well as the skills for which History remembers him. The Biography explored the vast differences between climbing as a sport today, and climbing as an activity dominated by a class system, that at times increased the danger of their activities. With any comparison today, the equipment, the risks that were taken, and the weather they survived with their primitive clothing, is nearly beyond belief. That Mallory, Irvine, and others reached such heights on Everest is nothing short of a type, effort, and endurance that put one in awe of these men.
The book also deals with those who coped with the extremely long absences these attempts required. Mallory's Wife and Family played a large if intermittent role in his shortened life, they stood by and waited for him through World War I, and his Mountaineering. We gain insight into Mallory the Professor, and other aspects of his life that were unknown to me.
After all the reading I have done it has become less an issue for me of whether the final piece of that last climb was completed. It is likely we may never know. But what Mallory and his friends did was so extraordinary, and so many years prior to the summit being reached, in many ways the final mystery may be more of a curiosity for the ages. For I believe what they did do, secures their place in History as extraordinary people.
An extremely interesting, and well-documented Biography.
I am puzzled by how easily the authors dismiss Mallory's technical abilities as insufficient for having made it to the top. While these first climbers may have certainly been inadequately dressed for the environment, I don't believe for a minute that these men were not fit or accomplished enough compared to today's climbers. Weeks on a boat, then travelling essentially on foot and horses made them fit enough (probably also by being able to acclimatize themselves for a much longer period than today)for any crack at the summit. This is a book about a man who dared to live his wildest dream against - finally - all odds and this story is worth being told.
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