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Why do so many feel compelled to risk their lives climbing mountains? During the climbing season, one person a day dies in the Alps, and more people die climbing in this season in Scotland than they do on the roads. Mountains of the Mind pursues a fascinating investigation into our emotional and imaginative responses to mountains, and how these have changed over the last few centuries. It is rich with literary and historical references, and punctuated by beautifully written descriptions of the author's own climbing experiences. There are chapters on glaciers, geology, the pursuit of fear, the desire to explore the unkwn, and the desire to get to the summit, and the book ends with a gripping account of Mallory's attempt on Everest. Mountains of the Mind is a beautifully written synthesis of climbing memoir and cultural history.
Mountains of the Mind: A History of a Fascination (2003), won the Guardian First Book Award, The Somerset Maugham Award, and The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, and was filmed by the BBC. It was also short-listed for the Ondaatje Prize for the Literature of Place, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the Boardman-Tasker Prize for Mountaineering Literature, the Banff Mountain Literature Award, and long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction. It was acclaimed as 'one of the two most important books written around the experience of mountains in the past fifty years'. Robert Macfarlane is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He lives in Cambridge with his family.