My book review of 'The Moth and the Mountain' by Ed Caesar

by Ed Caesar

I've never climbed a mountain and have never really understood the appeal, but I had noted the journalism of Ed Caesar and when I saw that this book had been nominated for the Costa prize this year, I thought I should give it a try.

And, my goodness, what an astonishing story and what briliiant writing.

A veteran of World War I, Maurice Williams had already lived a colourful life invalided out of action in France, pursuing various romantic relationships and journeying all around the world. He determined to live life to the full and nothing would prove an obstacle to whatever he set his heart on achieving.

So it was that, when he heard there were plans to conquer Everest, he decided this was something he wanted to do - alone. He had never climbed before, had no support and held a naive expectation of the task involved.

His plan was to learn to fly a Gypsy Moth aeroplane and to take it from England to the lower slopes of Everest where he would crash land and then make his way to the summit. He would be the first man to stand on top of the world.

This eccentric, ambitious, foolhardy plan is described beautifully with all the detail and colour of a novel, while leaving the reader turning every page with astonishment that the tale is true. It's fantastic and extraordinary.

Review date: December 2021
Publication date: 3rd June 2021