Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Beckoning Silence” as Want to Read:
The Beckoning Silence
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Beckoning Silence

3.98  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,327 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
Joe Simpson has experienced a life filled with adventure but marred by death. He has endured the painful attrition of climbing friends in accidents, calling into question the perilously exhilarating activity to which he has devoted his life. Probability is inexorably closing in. The tragic loss of a close friend forces a momentous decision upon him. It is time to turn his ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 2nd 2003 by Vintage (first published March 26th 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Beckoning Silence, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Beckoning Silence

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,186)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
I’m constantly (and morbidly) fascinated with stories of the amazing triumphs and horrific despair of mountaineering. Death comes so readily it seems, but the love of the mountains, the rush of adrenaline, and the battle itself bring these cliff-hangers and ice-climbers back time and again. It seems to be, quite like drugs or plastic surgery, an addiction that always drags you back for one more self-defining round.

I’ve read of Joe Simpson’s harrowing tales in other books- his survival is quite
Terence Livingston
Enjoyed this - not as much as Touching the Void - but a good ripping, teeth biting, neck chilling climbing book is as good as a holiday! Now back to reality!
I'm absolutely terrified of heights , so to find a love of reading about mountaineering and the climbers tale is somewhat strange I admit.
But the honesty that comes from these climbers , the bravery , determination and courage to go on some of the most dangerous climbs where life has already been lost is something I can't help but admire.
I know id never do anything like this myself , and reading these books is my way of experiencing it.
This book has had me close to tears several times , espec
Karen Terrell
May 08, 2016 Karen Terrell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were passages in *The Beckoning Silence* that were exquisite and poetic. Simpson brings us into his inner world, and allows us to share in the feelings and thoughts of a mountaineer nearing the end of his career. By the end of the book I think every reader can understand why Joe Simpson would consider retiring from climbing. My 97 year-old dad (Dee Molenaar, a veteran of several mountaineering expeditions) recently remarked: "I'm glad I did the climbing I did. I'm also glad I don't have to ...more
Bill Tyne
Apr 19, 2015 Bill Tyne rated it liked it
This is the story of Joe Simpson creeping doubts about the wisdom of keeping on climbing - too many funerals of friends lost in accidents begin to take their toll on his confidence and love of climbing. He examines these feelings and explores the reasons behind his own and others love of the sport. Before he gives it all up he is talked into doing a few last climbs, the old what ifs you don't want to leave undone. The main focus of the end of the book is his attempt on the North face of the Eige ...more
Sep 25, 2012 Martin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book for climbers, many of the thoughts and ideas that Joe Simpson shares are mirroring my own convictions about fear, death, dreams and life in general. He just found the words to describe those things in a clear and distinctive way. I'm recommending this book to everyone who wants to understand me and my "selfish" inclination for the Mountain.
L.K. Chapman
Apr 06, 2015 L.K. Chapman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this after reading Touching the Void earlier this year and being completely blown away by it, and decided to read more books about climbing because something about it seems to resonate with me even though I'm not a climber myself and I don't even know anybody who is!

This book was an interesting combination of Joe talking about various different experiences while climbing, some personal experiences from his own life, and also accounts of earlier climbers who attempted the north face of the
Nam Le
Dec 17, 2015 Nam Le rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was introduced to mountain sports recently by my friends and I've fallen in love with mountains ever since. This book inspired my to do a hike on my own following the Eiger trail from Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen.

Standing in front of the magnificent North Face made my imagination of the dangling lifeless body of Kurz on the wall or the wind howling Longhi's last words, "fame, freddo," was just as real as if I were there on those fateful days. Such a monument of nature can discourage any man o
Jim Fourfourfour
just amazing ,,,,,we thank you joe for letting us poor non climbers understand the mere tip of what it is to be truly free of our lives in modern times!
i cannot express how much i have enjoyed all your books to date ,,,,,and makes me want to better my own life and push for more experiences beyond this hum drum fake reality
hats off to you joe,,,,,
your an inspiration ,,,even if ya don't know it mate
to anyone not already engulfed by joes writings ,,,do yourself a favour and get in there ,,,,
Jerry Smith
Apr 19, 2014 Jerry Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am a fan of Simpson's writing and very much enjoyed "Touching the Void" for both it's writing and the story itself and this has obviously given him some notoriety and admiration in the mountaineering community, and deservedly so.

This is a very good read too, although I did take a while to get into the main part of the story which is the author's attempt to climb the Eiger North Face and being peripherally involved in another tragedy on that infamous climb. This is the best part of the book by
This is a good book. I'm not disputing that. It's well written, fast-paced and it's got and dramatic conclusion on the North face of the Eiger. But at the same time, I can't quite like it, mainly because I think Joe Simpson is the kind of person I will never be able to understand and so never get on with.
I haven't read Touching the Void, but I loosely know the story, and apparently this book treads different ground in that it's a lot more philosophical, questioning why people climb mountains and
Aug 24, 2013 Shelley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: hardcore mountaineers
This is not a gripping survival tale like "Touching the Void". Rather it is a somewhat loosely structured autobiography on Joe Simpson's mountaineering life, centered around the period when he is about to "give up" climbing altogether.

There are brilliant passages. The few pages on the sublime perfection felt after climbing the Bridalveil Falls in Colorado is lovely, a small compact jewel that comes close to conveying the unconveyable. The description of the Eiger storm is fantastic. One can almo
Michael Heneghan
My friend Sue Keevil, of PV Sea Dive fame, loaned me this book many moons ago and it didn't disappoint.

Joe Simpson is a professional climber and author and this book details some of his great climbs and paragliding. In the first half of the book, each chapter is a self contained story of one of his excursions. Better by far is the second half, wherein he tells the harrowing tale of his climb of the Eiger in the Alps.

If you like Jon Krakauer books, climbing, or any high adventure reading, this
May 20, 2012 Suzi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is only the second book in this mountain climbing, true life story genre I have read and I have to say I absolutely loved it. Simpson's style has changed so much since he wrote Touching the Void and this is a mature, beautifully written account of his dangerously addictive past time. He captures the epic mountains brilliantly with descriptions that make them sound sublime. His matter of fact style when narrating the deaths of others is interspersed with emotional outpourings of grief at the ...more
Aug 25, 2014 Stephkay rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There are some good anecdotes, psychology, and history in here, but you'll have to make it through the never-explained technical climbing details and name-dropping. As a non-climber, I much preferred Simpson's (briefer) contributions in "Deep Survival" (Gonzales). Reading Simpson's book is also a great reminder as to why I remain a non-climber!
Nov 08, 2009 Tammy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Nothing can beat the drama of "Touching the Void" by Simpson. This book suffers in the comparison. It follows Simpson's journeys through fear, but this is the fear brought on by age, experience, and settled wisdom. It is occasionally gripping in its raw treatment of what it is like to face utter terror and carry on (see the first chapter). Much of the rest of the book deals with Simpson's desire to climb the Eiger, and it provides a brief snippet of the many tragedies on this amazing mountain. H ...more
Kim Brown lovas
Dec 08, 2013 Kim Brown lovas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Joe Simpson writings are always a good read. An adventure narrative - takes you first seat, this one is no different. The tone has changed from his earlier writings. 'This Game Of Ghosts' held me spellbound, but he was more cocky, a youthful writing. This was speaking in age... Wisdom, a reckoning with so many lives he seen lost. It has affected his writing, he's so much more honed in this. It's raw and emotional, he's ok with letting us the reader see his vulnerable side. This was a great, fast ...more
Jun 17, 2009 Denise rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Joe Simpson can really write. His use of language as he explores his often conflicting thoughts about climbing is masterful. The decision to attempt the North face of the Eiger and the agonising shifts and changes in his feelings about it created a genuine suspense - would he or wouldn't he?

The stories of earlier climbers and so often their tragedies were beautifully crafted, but I found his foray into paragliding less interesting.

I saw Touching the Void when it was first released and was captiv
Feb 01, 2016 Nigel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read a few climbing books now and few manage to sum up what motivates someone to do what a moutaineer does as well as Joe Simpson. Humble, sincere and thought provoking, for the purest it will I'm sure lack some ofn the more technical detail I have read in other climbing books but for me a very satisfing read
Andrew Rogers
Mar 10, 2016 Andrew Rogers rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great book only let down by the author going over the same historical events time after time which I found a bit irritating.

Jan 09, 2016 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Incredibly thought provoking and well written piece from a man who proves he is not just skilled in the mountains.
Nigel Kotani
Mar 04, 2016 Nigel Kotani rated it really liked it
Not as good as Touching the Void - though few books are - but he's a great writer and writes great books.
I've already read this book twice. Joe Simpsons' style of writing pulls me into the story and makes me personally feel the triumphs and tragedies that he so eloquently writes about.

I enjoyed learning more about the Eiger and now understand just how hard a climb it is and why it's so feared. The tragedies that happened on the mountain are heartbreaking. Especially the three deaths that happened when Joe and Ray were making their ascent.

I enjoyed the DVD of Touching the Void, and am really anxiou
Nov 26, 2014 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simpson's a surprisingly engaging and emotion-provoking writer.
Apr 12, 2013 Fraser rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a book just begging to be written I feel. It gets into the discussions of mountaineering not just as a sport, but a way of life, and doesn't shirk from the more unpleasant consequences of pursuing this way of life.

I like Simpson a lot. He seems to have the sort of character that can endure anything (read 'Touching the Void'), but he doesn't seem to be bitter about anything, just simply open and honest in his appraisals. He seems to know more about his subject than most, and I for one ha
Jan 09, 2008 Jono rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who like climbing and mountains or who want to try and understand them
This is a book about Joe more than it is a book about mountains. But Joe's had an interesting time.

There's some gripping passages - but what I liked most was how he brought the mountains alive with the stories of the climbers, and, often, the tragedies they experienced. I couldn't help keep looking back the photographs of the first climbers. And the mountains became so much more interesting once he had given them meaning through the stories of those who came to climb them.

The book jumped around
Jun 23, 2013 da-wildchildz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Just a look, mind, nothing more.

Last line from The Beckoning Silence by Joe Simpson. Whereas Touching the Void offered an escapade full of drama that had you on tenterhooks, with The Beckoning Silence, Simpson slows down the pace and offers you snippets of his adventurous life, which though not immediately obvious, gradually builds to the final tragic journey. Whilst each story isn’t related to the other, they have once common theme, death or human vulnerability. Became more and more engrossed i
By the author of Touching The Void, this book seemed to start out as a memoir of why this accomplished climber hung up the crampons, but then he got sucked back in to one last climb of the Nordwand. Most of the book was a rehash of Eiger history, but I skipped through it all because John Harlin did a better job of it with his book (and had a more compelling story of why he wanted to climb the North Face of the Eiger). Bottom line, not my favorite book ever.
David Whyte
Jun 09, 2014 David Whyte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Compelling reading about the allure of the Eiger. In order to climb the daunting north face Simpson has to deal with his own inner emotions while examining the mountain's history of successful climbs and tragic failures. It is the superb way that Joe Simpson portrays his emotions, thoughts and views that make all his books so enjoyable. The Beckoning Silence will increase your fascination in both the Eiger and the mountaineering genre in general.
Markéta Kimi
Jul 15, 2016 Markéta Kimi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Skvělá kniha nejen o horách, ale i o překonávání sama sebe, o vášni, o tom, co dává našim životům smysl. Zároveň čtenáře vzdělává - dozvěděla jsem se o tolika zajímavých lidech, kteří podnikli prvovýstupy na místa, kam se normální člověk i bojí pohlédnout.

"Na horách je něco, co hýbe duší. Probouzejí v člověku silný pocit duchovní podstaty a povědomí naší vlastní pomíjivé a křehké smrtelnosti a naší bezvýznamnosti ve vesmíru." (Joe Simpson)
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 72 73 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The White Spider
  • Conquistadors Of The Useless
  • Psychovertical
  • Learning To Breathe
  • The Mountain: My Time on Everest
  • The Crystal Horizon: Everest-The First Solo Ascent
  • The Mountains of My Life (Modern Library Exploration)
  • K2: Triumph and Tragedy
  • Savage Summit: The True Stories of the First Five Women Who Climbed K2, the World's Most Feared Mountain
  • Thin Air
  • The Boys of Everest: Chris Bonington and the Tragedy of Climbing's Greatest Generation
  • Forever on the Mountain: The Truth Behind One of Mountaineering's Most Controversial and Mysterious Disasters
  • Seven Summits
  • Everest: The West Ridge
  • True Summit: What Really Happened on the Legendary Ascent on Annapurna
  • K2, The Savage Mountain: The Classic True Story of Disaster and Survival on the World's Second Highest Mountain
  • My Vertical World: Climbing the 8000-Metre Peaks
  • Everest The Hard Way
Joe Simpson is the author of the bestselling Touching the Void, as well as four subsequent non-fiction books published by The Mountaineers Books: This Game of Ghosts, Storms of Silence, Dark Shadows Falling, and The Beckoning Silence. The Beckoning Silence won the 2003 National Outdoor Book Award. The other three published by The Mountaineers Books were all shortlisted for the Boardman Tasker Awa ...more
More about Joe Simpson...

Share This Book