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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wade Davis: “Into the Silence” – News Watch

Wade Davis: “Into the Silence” – News Watch

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Mallory in the Alps
George Leigh Mallory on the Moine ridge of the Aiguille Verte mountain in France. Photograph by Geoffrey Winthrop Young, attributed to Alpine Club Photo Library.
NG Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis has spent decades traveling to remote locations studying little-known cultures, and sharing his experiences in thrilling books, articles, and films. Over the past ten years he has also been at work researching and writing the story of an adventure from an earlier generation.
Wade Davis, anthropologist and explorer spent ten years researching and writing "Into the Silence." Photo by Mark Thiessen/NGS
From 1921-24, British mountaineer George Mallory lead multiple attempts to scale the world’s highest mountain. Whether he ever made it to the top remains a mystery, as he and his climbing partner Andrew “Sandy” Irvine disappeared near the summit in 1924. His body was found 75 years later. That much of the story most people know.
Wade Davis realized from the start though, that the mountain was only part of the story for the men on these expeditions. Based on their ages and positions in society, he knew that most of them must have fought in World War I. Telling the full arc of their story, from the war to the mountain, is the heart of his new book “Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest.”
Wade was recently here at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C. and spoke with us about the book and the real lives related within its pages.

Death With No Mystery
“After the war there was an incredible impulse to go anywhere but home,” explains Wade. Hemingway and other “Lost Generation” writers embarked on artistic and emotional odysseys in the cafes and clubs of Europe. Mallory and other climbers did things much more concretely.
“It wasn’t they were cavalier or that they courted death, as much as that death had no mystery for them. They’d seen so much of it that death had no hold on them…life mattered less than the moments of being alive,” says Wade.
Team members Henry Morshead, Edward Norton, Howard Somervell, and George Mallory.

Geoffrey Bruce, George Leigh Mallory, and Teddy Norton with a gathering of local Sherpas. Photograph by Noel Odell, courtesy of the Royal Geographical Society.

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