'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
The untold story of Britain's most mysterious mountaineering legend - Maurice Wilson - and his heroic attempt to climb Everest. Alone.
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
'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'
'The Moth and the Mountain is gripping and exquisite. A mad, magnificent, and moving tale'
'This bonkers ripping yarn of derring-don't is a hell of a ride ... scrupulously researched ... Maurice Wilson was a one-off, quite outside the ordinary run of people, and The Moth and the Mountain is a "sorry, beautiful, melancholy, crazy" tribute to a man who, like a leaf in autumn, burnt brightest just before he fell'
'An urgent and humane story that invites not mockery of a madman, but pity and admiration. A small classic of the biographer's art'
'Caesar is a journalist with a novelist's eye for character ... Wilson's story is bonkers, but also beautiful. The profile Caesar builds is compelling, colourful and warm - of a complex, contradictory man with admirable self-belief and a healthy disregard for class boundaries and national borders' (Book of the Week)
'A riveting tale of trauma, spiritual awakening and postwar derring-do ... a gem of a book ... meticulously researched' (Book of the Week)
'An outstanding book . . . The Moth and the Mountain returns readers to a romantic era when Everest was terra nova rather than an experience to be bought . . . the author, a contributing writer for the New Yorker, is a talented storyteller with a flair for detail. . . Wilson's story is an entry less in the annals of mountaineering than in the Book of Life. That such an extraordinary person even existed is cause for celebration'
'A wonderful adventure story, beautifully told. Based on years of painstaking archival research, Ed Caesar's The Moth and the Mountain brings us a modern-day myth with a beguiling, impossible hero from a vanished era of empire, one man on an epic quest that is by turns gripping and heartbreaking'
'The Moth and the Mountain is a gripping story of heroism, adventure, madness and thwarted love, told with extraordinary empathy and intelligence. Ed Caesar is a writer of rare style and depth, and he has written a great and moving work of non-fiction'
'In the 1930s, an Englishman, Maurice Wilson - a traumatized veteran of the Great War - decided he would fly to Mount Everest, crash-land on the slopes and climb to the summit alone. (Never mind that he was a novice pilot and had never climbed a mountain.) It's not a spoiler to say that things didn't go well, but Caesar puts the man, and his quest, in historical context'