The Beckoning Silence
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The Beckoning Silence

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  792 ratings  ·  34 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)
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Sarah
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...more
Martin
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.
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!
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 ,,,,
aweso...more
Jerry Smith
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...more
Tali
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...more
Shelley
Aug 24, 2013 Shelley rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Suzi
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
Tammy
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
Kimberly Brown lovas
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
Denise
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...more
Tressa
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...more
Fraser
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...more
Jono
Jan 09, 2008 Jono rated it 4 of 5 stars
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...more
da-wildchildz
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...more
Brian
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
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.
Matt Baker
More of a book for climbers, although anyone can relate and find compelling his telling of inner torment and contradiction of passion and fear. As a climber, you'll enjoy the shared experiences and internal struggle of "is it worth it?"

The Eiger has a tremendous history of triumph and tragedy - try the film "The North Face" for a gut wrenching tale of an old school summit attempt during the pre/early WW2 period. Phenomenally well produced.
Richard Newton
This is a marvellous book on climbing, and the impact of fear and ageing. Whilst I am a big fan of Touching the Void, for me, this is a better book. This takes you into the mind of an experienced climber and tries to analyse the very reasons for climbing - not on the basis that climbers lack fear, but on the opposite, that climbing is a long tussle with fear. You do not have to be a climber to enjoy this, as Simpson is simply a brilliant writer.
Nina
I love Joe Simpson’s books. He’s smart, he knows his own demons, he’s ornery and he can write.

In Touching the Void, he told a story of his personal experience (as well as that of his climbing partner Simon). In The Beckoning Silence, he takes on the North Face of Eiger, which has quite the dramatic history on it’s own.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure books, or stories told by an ornery guy…
Hannah
Randomly picked this book out of a book exchange for lack of anything better. Simpson's writing is wonderfully descriptive and I found my heart racing through many of his climbing recaps. There were moments I was a bit bored with his more technical climbing talk, but I would imagine this would be no problem for experienced climbers/mountaineers unlike myself.
Andrew
Difficult to grasp the arc of the book at first - seems more like an after dinner talk at times. It does get going though - and the themes of fragility, fear and the ecstasy of achievement really grab you by the time he begins his ascent of the Eiger. He does write really well too...
Steve
Joe Simpson ability to bring us insight continues. Here he is at the culmination of mountaineer career, asking himself if he wants to continue and why. Here he climbs historic routes, Bridal veil falls ice climb and the North Face of the Eiger.
Michãel
Simpson tries to explain his fear and fascination with extreme mountaineering. This is the same guy who wrote Touching the Void, which I haven't read although the movie was great. This book tells some pretty gripping and harrowing tales.
Ladybug33
This book was a great explanation of the reason why people climb.
Lavender Brooke
Not as good as Touching The Void but still a great read. As someone who has never climbed a mountain in her life I thank the likes of Joe Simpson who have done it and then entertained me with tales of why I never should do it for myself.
Sean Pentony
Another great account from Joe Simpson. Fantasticly fanatical storyteller. Account of the brave, heroic and somewhat foolish Swiss team of innocent adventurers.
Brandon Hobbs
I LOVE these books! What a great read! I immeadiatly liked the author. Fascinating history on the Aiger...just great.
Pam Grainger
I do like this writer/climber! Another fascinating glimpse into the strange world of mountaineering.
Jill Bryant
This is an exciting read. If you are a mountain climber, you will probably enjoy it more.
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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...
Touching the Void: The True Story of One Man's Miraculous Survival This Game of Ghosts Dark Shadows Falling Storms of Silence The Sound of Gravity: A Novel

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