We last saw Wade Davis in the Bugaboos where he was a featured speaker during the CMH Summer Adventure Speaker Series, so we are well aware of his world-class communication skills. He’s written 15 books and is also the National Geographic Society’s Explorer in Residence, so I suppose it comes as not surprise that he’s winning prestigious awards for his writing. Still, we’d like to congratulate the Harvard PhD ethnobotanist for his latest accolades.
This time, his book Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest has won the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction and its $30,000 prize. Wade spent 10 years researching the book and in the process uncovered much that was previously unknown about the fateful expedition and the risk-taking motivation of WWI era British explorers.
The book’s summary explains, “Wade Davis asks not whether George Mallory was the first to reach the summit of Everest, but why he kept climbing on that fateful day.”
According to an article on the BBC, David Willetts MP, the chair of the judges for the award, explained their reason for choosing Into the Silence as this year’s winner: "It’s an exciting story of human endeavor imbued with deep historical significance. Wade’s scrupulous use of sources and attention to detail, combined with his storytelling skills and ability to enter into the minds of the people he is writing about make this a thoroughly enlightening and enjoyable book.”
The award's web page summarizes that "the book sheds new light on Mallory’s expeditions to scale Everest, against the backdrop of the impact of the Great War and British Imperialism, and giving a detailed insight in to the explorers’ world."
With the promise of Into the Silence delving into the motivations of 20th Century explorers through a masterfully researched examination of one of modern history's most storied epics, I’ve already ordered my copy. Stay tuned for a review of Wade’s award-winning book.
Coincidentally, I received the October 2012 CMH Newsletter on the same day I heard about Wade Davis winning the Samuel Johnson Award. In the newsletter, he's featured for many reasons:
First, Wade is part of the CMH Speaker Series.
Second, Wade's been called “a real-life Indiana Jones” and has been the focus of Hollywood and Imax films.
Third, Wade was born and raised in British Columbia and way back in the 70s he worked as a seasonal park ranger in Bugaboo Provincial Park, the same place and about the same time CMH Summer Adventures began.
Last but not least, Wade Davis is planning to join us again next summer in the Bugaboos for the CMH Speaker Series on July 21-24. Call CMH Reservations at 1 (800) 661-0252 for questions about joining the award-winning explorer for hiking, presentations and intimate conversations in one of his favourite places on the planet.
Mt. Everest photo by Topher Donahue.