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The Boys of Everest: Chris Bonington and the Tragedy of Climbing's Greatest Generation
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The Boys of Everest: Chris Bonington and the Tragedy of Climbing's Greatest Generation

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  319 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Clint Willis’s book tells the story of a band of climbers who reinvented mountaineering during the three decades after Everest’s first ascent. It is a story of tremendous courage, astonishing achievement and heart-breaking loss. Their leader was the boyish, fanatically driven Chris Bonington. His inner circle — which came to be know as Bonington’s Boys — included a dozen w ...more
Paperback, 560 pages
Published October 26th 2007 by Da Capo Press (first published January 1st 2006)
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I recently returned from mountaineering school in the Cascades. I went in the hope of familiarizing myself with the techniques and skills to be a competent follower of a guided trip up some larger mountains, such as Rainier, Aconagua, or Denali. The mountains inspired me to know the history of mountaineering. Amazon recommended "The Boys of Everest."

I'd heard of Mallory and Hilary, of course, but never of Chris Bonington and his "boys" (including Hamish McInnes, Don Whillans, Ian Clough, Joe Ta
Apr 05, 2012 Eric_W rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
As someone who has never, will never, and wants never, to climb even a hill without a path and ice cream shop every mile, I remain somewhat perplexed by those who feel they must endure freezing cold, ridiculous food, tea all the time (if you’re British), and the constant risk of death. But these psychotics are great fun to read about. I’ve read several mountaineering accounts, and not just for the feats of climbing, but the internal and external personality conflicts, as well.

One wonders in book
Nov 30, 2015 Nigel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading climbing books for many years now and found that they can be rather variable. Books on Everest will tend to crop up quite often as Everest is perceived as the big challenged (kind of ignoring the many mountains that are actually harder in many ways).

While this is called the "Boys of Everest" and does focus to a substantial degree on the highest mountain it really is a book about a climbing generation - Bonington's boys. This is not a clearly defined group of people but those wh
Jun 04, 2012 Elmarcel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Mostly in the context of how you would want to read climbing books, and the other available literature.

There is a lot of "train of thought" and "imagery" in this book. Which is weird, as the author was not present, and doesn't have this info from the actual climbers. He is a climber, luckily, so it isn't all made up. The only problem is that his descriptions are hilariously bad, to the point of becoming comical. I wish I had it on hand to make some comments. It's a painful, painful read. Read an
Ross Leblanc
Apr 28, 2013 Ross Leblanc rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This author is a douchebag. Let's focus on his picture in the back of the book: Wisping long hair with flashes of professorial gray just north of a shit-eating grin. A smart crew-neck sweater and pair of jeans just so you know he's casual-cool. And to top it off he's sitting, almost seductively, on a pile of logs so we all know he's an outdoorsman. Who chopped that wood Clint? I would've respected him more if he had been winking. It's clear to me he really wants to wink. And his name is Clint. S ...more
Oct 31, 2012 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book because it gave me more detail on the technical aspects of climbing than most mountaineering tales do. On the other hand, it was odd that the author put thoughts and actions into the heads of dead men, trying to imagine, I guess, what they were thinking and feeling when they died climbing. Of course, we'd all like to know, but it takes it a bit far to actually imagine those thoughts and write them into the story as if they're part of the (non-fiction, supposedly) narrative.

This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 29, 2008 Tyler rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
My dad gave me this book last year for christmas (it was just as much for him as it was for me), he loved it and I hated it. This follows a revolutionary group of climbers along many trips of some of their best climbs and what happens to them along the years. If you are looking to read a climbing book that is not about everest or k2 this is a very good book. The Eiger in Switzerland plays and important role as well as others, but I can't say that I really enjoyed the book, although others have.
Jan 08, 2016 Tina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I have never climbed a mountain and probably never will climb one. But I am a runner and I can understand the desire to push yourself to your limits with challenges that at first glance might seem impossible. Climbing Mt Everest seems absolutely insane to most people and I can see why. This mountain kills so many who attempt it, it's a dangerous and life threatening activity. But just as some would say "why in the world would anyone want to do something as crazy as running a marathon?" some woul ...more
Oct 27, 2015 Laura rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 24, 2015 James rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: climbing
At best this is a "non fiction novel"

too much is fantasy made up by the author
L.M. Cooke
Jun 06, 2016 L.M. Cooke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was so good I spent a weekend literally fighting with a house guest over who got to read it. I won. My house, my book.
The slightly distant narrative style worked very well. It provided dispassionate discussion of some very emotive events, without losing sight of the fact that the men who survived were also in danger. Clearly some of the narrative has to be poetic licence, but it didn't lose the impact for any of that.

Well worth the read, whether you're familiar with Bonington (if you'r
Kim Possible
I've been reading alot of climbing books lately and this was not one of the better ones. The author went very wide and not too deep - and must have some ESP knowing what a few of the climbers were thinking as they were dying. You could make the book a drinking game for every time they stopped and had some tea. They stopped for tea (drink), they didn't have fuel to make tea (drink), they melted snow for tea (drink), tea, tea, tea - I didn't realize it was so key in climbing.

There are better books
Oct 31, 2009 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like climbing mountains, but prefer those where the climbing doesn't involve sheer cliffs and frigid temperatures. The technical kind of mountain climbing intrigues me, but not enough to take it up. Instead, I occasionally enjoy reading about others' adventures.

This book is subtitled "Chris Bonington and the Tragedy of Climbing's Greatest Generation." Most of the book focuses on Bonington and a group of British climbers, and their adventures on quite a few different mountains in Europe and Asi
Sep 29, 2009 Judy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After Everest was conquered in 1953, it seemed like there was nothing left to accomplish in the climbing world. However, a ever-changing group of young British climbers pressed even greater limits by climbing more difficult mountains and taking impossible routes on mountains already summitted on easier trails. A few of the climbers lived to old age, but according to this book most of them died on an 8,000 meter peak somewhere on the other side of the world.

I have read and enjoyed many other book
Terri Schneider
Nov 16, 2014 Terri Schneider rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A substantial project, eloquently written by Clint Willis, of a defining era of British mountaineering. His writing is raw, honest and delicate while highlighting the climbers lives, relationships and climbs. Deeply moving. If you want to glimpse how challenging it is to understand why people climb mountains, this is the book. Brilliant writing.
Daniel Rees
Hard to read. A meandering weird book. There's no new ground covered. No new information. You can learn more from the books of Bonington,Boardman and Tasker,as well as those by Tasker's widow Maria Coffey. Avoid this book.
Jun 03, 2014 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this was an intriguing book, although a bit slow and for some reason i had a hard time reading it despite the very interesting subject and people involved in the book.
Jan 11, 2009 Aric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book tells the story of British climbers who took on increasingly challenging routes after Everest was climbed. At times its funny and at times it tries to describe the joy and compulsion of climbing and hiking. The book is written as if the author has complete knowledge of the inner thoughts of the characters, some of which seem meticoulously researched and some just made up. All in all though, the depictions of the climbs pull you in and let you share in the excitement of it. Good book.
Dec 18, 2007 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is chock full of British mountaineering history and adventure. Willis most closely Chris Bonington's career, but also includes important climbs of some of his common partners. In particular, he covers the deaths of many of these famous climbers. He also sheds some light on many old climbing conflicts such as older vs. younger generations, equipment differences and large expeditions vs. alpine style. Great book for anyone interested in the 8,000 meter peaks.
Sep 12, 2010 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book seemed a bit different from other 'adventure' tales I have read about mountaineering. In some ways that was a nice change: The author was able to describe thoughts and emotions in an engaging way that felt real, but when he put himself in the minds of some of the climbers in the last moments before they died (as many do), then I was a little put off by his assuming to know their last thoughts. Overall an interesting but rather different adventure read.
Apr 07, 2008 Ben rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I just love these mountaineering books, all about how crazy these folks are. There's such a "true believer" part of them that they keep going back, regardless of the cost to themselves and their family. This is one of the best, giving a summary of a group of british mountaineers who did a lot of crazy stuff, and definitely paid for it in the end.
Sonya Burgess
Mar 18, 2008 Sonya Burgess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book - my only objection were the fictionalized parts - no one knows what happened to Tasker and Boardman, yet their deaths were depicted in the book. Also, he reflects on their "internal" thoughts as they headed off to never be seen again. I think the book would've been much better had it not crossed the line from fact to fiction.
May 28, 2008 Emily rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
You know, I can't really tell you what the 'tragedy' was that the book's title refers to. The book was kind of boring and there were so many characters coming and going that I couldn't keep them straight. I'm guessing there was a good story in there, but it was not delivered well enough. Maybe on paper it is a little better.
Sep 16, 2010 Ryan rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
had to put this one down. every chapter is the same story; some epic climb, some unfortunate death. set up basecamp, climb a few pitches, think about mortality... yawn. the stories are indeed epic, but the melodramatic descriptions of every. single. thing. that. happens. are over-the-top.
Paul Barton
A disappointing read. I was bored by all the family stuff which threatened to overwhelm the narrative. When I did get to the climbing it was too much of a step by step guide to footholds and grips and not enough about the emotions, fear and elation and despair.
Feb 05, 2008 Letha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating look at the rock-and-roll Brits of high-altitude climbing, who knocked off incredibly hard routes in the Himalayas in the 1970s and 1980s. You have to be a masochist to thrive on the stuff they did -- and many of them paid with their lives.
Jan 20, 2009 Lena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always enjoy reading true stories about mountain climbing! I'll never do it, but I totally respect those who have the drive and stamina (and willingness to take life-threatening risks) to go out and make the effort to climb to the top.
Nov 05, 2010 Kit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have no desire to climb Everest. But this was a pretty fascinating glimpse into the minds and lives of those who DO... and those who have acted on that desire.
Mar 04, 2013 Joshua rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful telling of the lives of men growing up in the shadow of the British conquest of the worlds highest peaks. Great stories about climbs in the Himalaya.
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