Clint Willis has published more than forty books, including anthologies on topics such as adventure, politics, relgion, and war. His work has appeared in hundreds of publications, including Men's Journal, Outside, and the New York Times. His work has also been nominated for the American Society of Magazine Editors' National Magazine Award.
The Boys of Everest: Chris Bonington and the Tragedy of Climbing's Greatest Generationby Clint Willis
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
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 who became climbing’s greatest generation. Bonington’s Boys gave birth to a new brand of climbing. They took increasingly terrible risks on now-legendary expeditions to the world’s most fearsome peaks. And they paid an enormous price for their achievements. Most of Bonington’s Boys died in the mountains, leaving behind the hardest question of all: Was it worth it?
The Boys of Everest, based on interviews with surviving climbers and other individuals, as well as five decades of journals, expedition accounts, and letters, provides the closest thing to an answer that we’ll ever have. It offers riveting descriptions of what Bonington's Boys found in the mountains, as well as an understanding of what they lost there.
- Da Capo Books
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)
Meet the Author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews
I have a problem with Clint Willis. The fact that not a single person for whom he purports to speak graced the dust jacket with so much as a mention should be proof enough (Al Alvarez notwithstanding). He makes an apologist's excuse in the introduction for speaking on behalf of the likes of Bonnington, McInness, Haston and Whillans, and then proceeds to barge ahead nonetheless, peppering the text with suppositions about what they were feeling at the time. This book is a fictionalized (though well researched) book about the period. Anyone accustomed to reading first-hand accounts and biographies by and about mountaineering and climbers will feel duped. Having said that, he does it well. Non-climbers can get a glimpse inside the heads of the greatest mountaineers of their generation, albeit filtered through the limited experience of Clint Willis the climber/author. He seamlessly blends explanations of basic techniques with a climber's sensibility to what it feels like to be utterly exposed on the side of a mountain. I find this period in climbing history to be utterly compelling, but for every time I lose myself in the events of the text, I am also rolling my eyes about his writing style.
This is the most extraordinary climbing book that I have ever read. It combines the excitement of books such as Into Thin Air with an incredible emotional depth not often found in the cannon. After reading the New York Times review of Mr. Willis's book, which states that 'Willis turns reportage into literature...' I decided to buy a copy. I have never enjoyed a climbing book so fully. Willis explains in a note before the first chapter that he has written this story has he imagined it, and taken liberties by delving into the climbers' minds at points describing feelings and experiences he could not actually know for sure. But he does this with 100% self awareness, and eloquently states his reasoning in a foreword to the book. (I won't attempt to paraphrase it here. All I'll say is after reading the foreword, I completely understood and in fact endorsed and enjoyed the liberties he took. They often resulted in some incredibly beautiful images, descriptions and moments of empathy. Clearly, some readers did not bother to read this foreword.) I applaud and thank Clint Willis for adding such an intelligent, innovative, and heartbreaking work to the world of climbing literature, and for you armchair thrill seekers, it most certainly, as Kirkus reviews puts it, 'is of the same class and caliber (as) Into Thin Air'
The author puts you inside the minds and bodies of the fearless group of climbers. I have read many books on these subjects, but this one is, far and away is the most descriptive. Perhaps, some maps of each route on each ascent would have been a nice touch, but otherwise I loved it.
I've done a little mountaineering and am very much inclined to enjoy books on mountaineering. 'Into Thin Air' was a good read. 'Touching The Void' was amazing. the Mountaineers collection on 'Everest' was very good. Regretfully, I will not be placing 'The Boys of Everest' on the same shelf as these others. It is art school stuff. For example, the author has declared war on quotation marks. Occasionally he will treat us to an italicized sentence, which you might infer is a direct quote (but you can't hold the author responsible if you are going to make unwarranged assumptions like that)! Not to worry, I doubt that in 529 pages of bibliography he saw the need to provide even a half-dozen semi-quotations. He doesn't tell you really very much about what the climbers did, either. There is a lot of 'on this day they went to camp x and on the next day they went to camp y' style writing. But matters of route finding, climbing technique, food, gear, pacing, or the dynamics of climbing with others get the short shrift. The author is, however, happy to expound at length about what a climber was feeling. In several cases the author's authority is such that he can make unqualified assertions about what a climber was feeling right up to the moment that he died. Apparently, the one thing that mountain climbers in Bonnington's circle had in common was interminable feelings of shame. Climb a mountain? Feel shame! Fail to climb a mountain? Feel shame! Thinking about maybe climbing a mountain or perhaps not climbing a mountain? Shame, shame, shame and (perhaps) more shame. What do climbers feel when they are not feeling shame? Evidently they are struggling with a pretty tenuous connection with reality. Almost every climber mentioned seems to have a hard time believing that they are on a mountain. I finished the book, but I have to wonder why. I didn't learn much about any of the climbers, any of the mountains, and hardly anything about climbing (although the discussion of the Whillan's box was interesting). Mostly I'm just glad that Mr. Willis is not going to be writing about me.