“An outstanding book.” —The Wall Street Journal * “Gripping at every turn.” —Outside * “A hell of a ride.” —The Times (London)
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 1930s, as official government expeditions set their sights on conquering Mount Everest, a little-known World War I veteran named Maurice Wilson conceives his own crazy, beautiful plan: he will fly a plane from England to Everest, crash-land on its lower slopes, then become the first person to reach its summit—completely 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 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 begins 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 “rollicking” (The Economist) 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.
Journalist Caesar (Two Hours) delivers an evocative portrait of the life and times of British adventurer Maurice Wilson (1898 1934), who captivated the public's attention with his doomed attempt to climb Mount Everest in 1934. Despite the best efforts of the British government to stop him, Wilson flew his Gipsy Moth biplane (which he had only recently learned to pilot) from England to India, hired three sherpas, and walked more than 300 miles to the base of the world's tallest mountain disguised as a Tibetan priest. Drawing on archival records and love letters Wilson wrote to a friend's wife, Caesar highlights Wilson's middle-class upbringing and military service in WWI, where his battalion was nearly wiped out in Germany's spring offensive of 1918. After the war, Wilson burned through relationships, suffered a nervous breakdown, and traveled the world. Back in England, he turned to fasting, Indian mysticism, and the power of positive thinking to recover from depression and prepare for his Everest expedition. Caesar skillfully explores the political, intellectual, and spiritual movements of the era, as well as Wilson's psychic scars from the war. Though his climb ended in tragedy, Wilson inspired Reinhold Messner to make the first solo ascent of Everest in 1980. This entertaining, well-researched chronicle is a valuable addition to mountaineering history.
You feel like you are with Wilson the climber
The Moth and the Mountain
Stories like these are seldom repeated.
As we sit here in the 21st century the days of great adventures are over.
Thanks goodness we have people like Ed Caesar to delve into the past and write a gripping, interesting, humorous story about a fascinating man and his will to succeed.
Top notch entertainment.