Reviews for Into the Silence : The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest

Booklist Reviews 2011 September #1
Davis' meticulous history of the first attempts to scale Everest covers everything from the mooting of it in the early 1900s to its realization in three 1920s expeditions to Tibet, which ended with the disappearance of George Mallory, tantalizingly close to the summit, in 1924. Ambitious to do more than pen a mere mountaineering tome, Davis plumbs the biographies of most of the British personnel involved, delving into the social moldings of some by the British public school and Oxbridge systems and of others in the milieu of imperial administration. Exceptionally sensitive to personality traits, Davis expertly capitalizes on diaries and correspondence to limn a fascinating cast of characters, most of whom, like Mallory, fought in WWI. After its sordid carnage, evoked in Davis' depictions of expedition members' war experiences, mastering Everest held personal redemptive possibilities that publicity inflated into a reassertion of national greatness by a country traumatized in the trenches. Culminating in detailed accounts of the ascents that astutely weigh events and controversies, this vital contribution to Everest literature should rivet readers. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Choice Reviews 2012 May
George Leigh Mallory has haunted the imaginations of everyone who is interested in mountain climbing, and many who are not. The discovery of his long-lost body in the spring of 1999 became international news, leading to a revival of interest in Mallory and the ill-fated 1924 British Everest Expedition, in which Mallory and climbing partner Andrew Irvine disappeared into the clouds near the summit of the highest peak in the world. Of course, Mallory was famous even before his death. It was he who, on a 1923 American tour, answered a question about why he wanted to climb Everest with the brief, sharp reply, "Because it's there." In this detailed, mesmerizing study, Wade describes the 1924 expedition and the expeditions of 1921 and 1922. But he ventures far beyond the world of ice and rocks, elevating the discussion into the rarified air where ideas and actions collide. He adroitly demonstrates the symbolic role that Mallory played in British and Western culture during and after WW I. In a very real sense, Mallory played a part in the last act of vanishing Victorian culture, serving as a poignant symbol of a Victorian world that had disappeared into the mists of history. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; general readers. General Readers; Lower-division Undergraduates; Upper-division Undergraduates. R. W. Roberts Purdue University Copyright 2012 American Library Association.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 August #1

Anthropologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Davis (The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World, 2009, etc.) exhaustively charts the first epic assaults on Mount Everest by determined Englishmen after the devastation of World War I.

Britain had resolved to be the first to scale the as-yet-unexplored reaches of the highest mountains in the world since the empire's first surveying forays into India and Tibet in the mid 19th century. Then, the discovery of Everest's actual height was first established and named after a geographer responsible for the Great Trigonometrical Survey of 1829, Sir George Everest. In this ambitious study, Davis eventually arrives at the first expedition of 1921, sponsored by the Royal Geographical Society but delayed by the war, which had traumatized and practically eliminated an entire generation of young people in England and Europe. For shell-shocked veterans, Everest signified "a sentinel in the sky, a place and destination of hope and redemption, a symbol of continuity in a world gone mad." Enter George Mallory (1886–1924), a graduate of Cambridge, young husband and father, veteran and accomplished climber, who was chosen to head the first exploratory mission up the North Col in 1921, only to be driven back by the summer monsoon. The reconnaissance mission was followed by two others shortly after, organized again by the Alpine Club. The expedition of 1922 was filmed by John Noel and employed oxygen for the first time, controversially; it ended with the highest climb by George Finch but the death of seven Tibetan assistants in an avalanche. Yet again, in 1924, the familiar team attacked Everest, and with Mallory claiming he was "the strongest of the lot, the most likely to get to the top," he set off with the much younger, inexperienced climber Sandy Irvine, and apparently fell to their deaths very near the summit on June 8 or 9. Davis explores every facet of these single-minded expeditions and the deeply committed, bold, hubristic men who made it possible.

More detail-bludgeoning than riveting tale of mettle against mountain.


Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2011 May #1

A celebrated anthropologist who's currently National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Davis details Great Britain's protracted efforts to scale Mount Everest, which he traces back to 19th-century imperial ambitions and the huge sense of loss following World War I. Everest always fascinates, and this is about more than climbing; with a 75,000-copy first printing and a six-city tour.

[Page 60]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal Reviews 2011 September #2

In 1924, British climbers George Mallory and Andrew "Sandy" Irvine, as part of that year's British Mount Everest Expedition, disappeared as they attempted to be the first climbers ever to reach the summit. The mystery of their fate has long haunted the mountaineering world, with many books on the topic. Few can compare to the sheer scope and depth here. Anthropologist Davis (National Geographic explorer-in-residence) moves beyond mountaineering history to delve into the history of British involvement in the Himalayas and the backgrounds of the many players in the British quest to conquer Everest. Davis focuses on the importance of World War I in shaping the worldviews of the expedition members and their backers. Describing in harrowing detail the wartime experiences of many of the climbers, Davis uses the Everest quest as a prism through which to examine the vast changes wrought by the war. VERDICT While well written, meticulously researched, and full of gripping descriptions, this work may overwhelm some readers with its epic scope. Best suited to serious readers and scholars interested in World War I, the British Empire in Asia, and mountaineering history. Those seeking a more biographical focus may consider Peter and Leni Gillman's The Wildest Dream: The Biography of George Mallory. [See Prepub Alert, 4/4/11.]--Ingrid Levin, Salve Regina Univ. Lib., Newport, RI

[Page 86]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal Reviews Newsletter
Readers who want to know more about Mallory and his attempts at Everest have a great body of work to explore. A fine place to begin is this massive book detailing Mallory's life and times. Wade's work reads as an expanded encyclopedia to what Rideout's novel draws upon. There are sections about the war (which Rideout uses thematically throughout her novel) and sections about each climb and the motivations of the men involved, but most of all, Davis offers a sense of Mallory's era. For those wanting to read more about Mallory, Sandy, and Everest, consider Mallory's Climbing Everest: The Complete Writings of George Mallory, Francis Younghusband's The Epic of Mount Everest, Peter and Leni Gillman's The Wildest Dream: The Biography of George Mallory, Jochen Hemmleb's, Larry A. Johnson's, and Eric R. Simonson's Ghosts of Everest: The Search for Mallory & Irvine, David Breashears's and Audrey Salkeld's The Last Climb: The Legendary Everest Expeditions of George Mallory, Conrad Anker's and David Robert's The Lost Explorer: Finding Mallory on Mount Everest, Reinhold Messner's The Second Death of George Mallory, and Everest: Summit of Achievement by the Royal Geographical Society. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 August #5

Davis (Wayfinders), a National Geographic explorer-in-residence, tells the story of how a group of men who survived the unfathomable violence of WWI became obsessed with scaling Mt. Everest. Their quest was not for their own glory but for the psyche of their ravaged country and to reaffirm that the human spirit could soar above the inhumanity that countries perpetrate on one another on the battlefield. As with all his works, Davis relies on impeccable research to go into uncommon detail to outline a backstory that centers on the atrocities of trench warfare, English imperialism in India, and the first European expeditions into Tibet and the Himalayas. He also digs deep into the schooling and upbringing of those who took part in the first Everest expeditions, going so far as to investigate the early same-sex relationships of George Mallory. While Davis takes his time leading up to Mallory's first attempt at the summit, his own exploration experience helps him get into the minds of the climbers, the descriptions of the ascents--including the tragic 1922 attempt that saw seven Sherpas lose their lives and the long-unresolved conclusion to the 1924 climb that resulted in Mallory and Andrew Irvine's deaths--are as breathtaking and astounding as any previous climbing literature. (Oct.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC