The Moth and the Mountain

The Moth and the Mountain

Shortlisted for the Costa Biography Award 2021

Summary

WINNER OF THE TELEGRAPH BEST SPORTS WRITING AWARD 2021
SHORTLISTED FOR THE COSTA BIOGRAPHY AWARD 2021

'One of the best books ever written about the early attempts to conquer Everest. A fine, fine slice of history by a truly special writer who proves time and time again that he is among the best of his generation' Dan Jones, author of The Plantagenets

'A small classic of the biographer's art' Sunday Times

In the 1930s, as official government expeditions set their sights on conquering Everest, a little-known World War I veteran named Maurice Wilson conceived his own crazy, beautiful plan: he would fly a Gipsy Moth aeroplane from England to Everest, crash land on its lower slopes, then become the first person to reach its summit - all utterly alone. Wilson didn't know how to climb. He barely knew how to fly. But he had pluck, daring and a vision - he wanted to be the first man to stand on top of the world.

Maurice Wilson is a man written out of the history books - dismissed as an eccentric and a charlatan by many, but held in the highest regard by world class mountaineers such as Reinhold Messner. The Moth and the Mountain restores him to his rightful place in the annals of Everest and in doing so attempts to answer that perennial question - why do we climb mountains?

'A towering, tragic tale rescued from oblivion by Ed Caesar's magnificent writing' Dan Snow

'This bonkers ripping yarn of derring-don't is a hell of a ride' The Times


'It's hard to imagine a finer tribute to one of Everest's forgotten heroes' Elizabeth Day

Reviews

  • 'Ed Caesar has written a slim, ravishing chronicle that is absolutely bursting with life - doomed romance, the dread of the battlefield, the lure of adventure, hair-raising tales of amateur aviation, and, above all, the beauty and madness of the quest to ascend Earth's tallest summit. Maurice Wilson is as rich and full of surprise and contradiction as a character in a novel, and through painstaking historical research, Caesar brings his hero back to vivid life in all his messy, inspiring, ultimately tragic glory. A major feat of reporting and elegant storytelling'
    Patrick Radden Keefe, author of the Orwell Prize-winning Say Nothing

About the author

Ed Caesar

Ed Caesar is forty years old. He lives in Manchester, and writes for the New Yorker. He has won eleven major journalism awards - including a British Press Award, PPA Writer of the Year and the 2014 Foreign Press Award for Journalist of the Year. His subjects have included conflict in central Africa, the world's longest tennis match, stolen art, money-laundering, and the trade in diamonds. His first book, Two Hours, won a Cross Sports Book Award in 2016.
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