Norris F's Reviews > Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest

Into the Silence by Wade Davis
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Mar 22, 12

Read from March 02 to 14, 2012

The human body is an amazing tool. It’s potential and abilities are abundant. It can be pushed to the edge of endurance and skill, oftentimes, surpassing them. Consider the highest point on Earth. It’s 1000 feet lower than commercial airliners fly. It’s literally the top of the planet: Chomolongma or Mt. Everest. I’ve read about Mt. Everest in Into Thin Air, In Search of Mallory and Irvine and most recently Into the Silence. The concept of death on Everest fascinates me. The mountain, the highest point on Earth at 29,000 feet, is unforgiving and merciless due to cold and oxygen deprivation: a death zone. These extreme factors cause, magnify, and exacerbate small errors and weaknesses making accidents that would be avoidable and survivable anywhere else, lethal. People die on Everest and that’s it. Their bodies are left in situ: ice mummies. That’s if they are ever found. Some bodies fall into crevasses or get swept away in avalanches never to be seen again and known only to God (there are an estimated 300+ corpses on Everest). What is Everest’s appeal? Why hazard Everest’s many perils? If the weather doesn’t get you, the cold will. If the cold doesn’t get you, oxygen deprivation will. If all of these fail, there’s always a slip or an avalanche. Into the Silence attempts to answer this question, and does so from a different perspective than previous Everest or Mallory books. It explains the mountain’s draw in context with WWI’s horror’s and how it drove men to seek solace away from home, hearth, and country. The book is meticulously researched to the point of overkill. Some details I could done without, seeing as the audio book clocks in at a hefty 30 discs, but the narrator does a great job and the author engages and engrosses.

Pros:
---Informative: Buddhism, Tibetan culture, WWI, personal insights via diaries and letters
---meticulous and thorough
---prose
---engrossing

Cons:
---Length
---Unnecessary detail
---in some ways, retreads previously covered territory i.e. WWI and Everest, just shows the effect of the former on the latter
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