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EVEREST 1934: THE MOTH AND THE MOUNTAIN: A TRUE STORY OF LOVE, WAR AND EVEREST [Maurice Wilson] Ed Caesar 2020 1st ed New Hardcover Multiple copies available
By Caesar, Ed
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NY, 2020, 1st edition. 259 pp, 8 photos, map. New hardcover with dust jacket.

An extraordinary true story about one man’s attempt to salve the wounds of war and save his own soul through an audacious adventure.

In the 1920s and 1930s, as official UK government expeditions set their sights on conquering Mount Everest, a little-known British World War I veteran named Maurice Wilson conceived a crazy, beautiful plan: he would fly a plane from England to Everest, crash land on its lower slopes, then become the first person to reach its summit — all utterly alone.

Wilson doesn’t know how to climb. He barely knows how to fly. But he has the right plane, the right equipment, and a deep yearning to achieve his goal. In 1933, he takes off from London in a Gipsy Moth biplane [that he named Ever Wrest] with his course set for the highest mountain on earth. Wilson’s eleven month journey to Everest is wild: full of twists, turns, and daring. Eventually, in disguise, he sneaks into Tibet. His icy ordeal is just beginning.

Wilson is one of the Great War’s heroes, but also one of its victims. His hometown of Bradford in northern England is ripped apart by the fighting. So is his family. He barely survives the war himself. Wilson returns from the conflict unable to cope with the sadness that engulfs him.

He began a years long trek around the world, burning through marriages and relationships, leaving damaged lives in his wake. When he finally returns to England, nearly a decade after he first left, he finds himself falling in love once more — this time with his best friend’s wife — before depression overcomes him again. He emerges from his funk with a crystalline ambition. He wants to be the first man to stand on top of the world. Wilson believes that Everest can redeem him.

This is the tale of an adventurer unlike any you have ever encountered: complex, driven, wry, haunted, and fully alive. He is a man written out of the history books — dismissed as an eccentric, and gossiped about because of rumors of his transvestism. The Moth and the Mountain restores Maurice Wilson to his rightful place in the annals of Everest and tells an unforgettable story about the power of the human spirit in the face of adversity.

Wilson died on the East Rongbuk Glacier, near the North Col. Ironically he was the twelfth person die on Mount Everest. The tenth and eleventh were Sandy Irvine and George Mallory.

In 1935, Eric Shipton led a very successful reconnaissance expedition to Mount Everest. They found Wilson's body at the foot of the North Col, lying on its side in the snow and surrounded by the remains of a tent which had been torn apart by the elements. A rucksack containing his diary was found nearby. The body was buried in a nearby crevasse. It is assumed that Wilson died in his tent of exhaustion, starvation or freezing. The exact date of his death is unknown. Finalist for the 2021 Boardman Tasker Prize for Mountain Literature.


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