Books December 14, 2011
Wade Davis on the Horrors of World War I

Wade talks about going through the 'twilight shadow of hell' whilst researching famous mountain climber George Mallory for his latest book, 'Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest'.

In this clip, Wade talks about...

The journey of researching the book
To do this research was like a journey through the twilight shadow of hell. Think about this: before ww1 cremation didn't exist as a method for dealing with the dead. After the war it became the preferred method for tens of thousands who had have lived for 4 years and 4 months in the presence of rotting cadavers of dead soldiers. So the War had such an impact on every single phase... so my thought was that life mattered less than the moments of being alive. Because of their experiences in the War, Mallory and his colleagues were willing to accept a level of risk that might have been unimaginable before the War - and it was that kind of risk and that kind of courage that Everest demanded.

How the men in the book wanted to escape from humanity
G: Let me present another scenario to you, and I only raise this because I was lucky enough to interview Farley Mowat who's told some great stories about the wilderness... he also experienced the War. How much of it for these guys was it to just get away from humanity? So it was not just about the risk, but wanting to get away?
W: That's actually a really profound thing you just said, because in the wake of the War - there was a chasm that existed between the men that lived at the front, and those that stayed home and profited from the War. So after the war, there was this feeling of wanting to get away - anywhere - to feel the heat of the tropics... (There were) men who just wanted to get away. In a way, that's what Everest became: a sentinel in the sky. In a way that's what it became: before the war, it was a gesture of redemption for an imperial power of explorers who had lost the race to the North and South Poles... and in the wake of the War, it became a mission of regeneration for a nation bled white by the wake of war."



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