Synopses & Reviews
A journey to the most extreme points on Earth and deep inside the human spirit andlt;BRandgt;andnbsp;andnbsp;andnbsp;andnbsp; Before Georgetown physics professor Francis Slakey set out to climb the highest mountain on every continent and surf every ocean, he had shut himself off from other people. His lectures were mechanical; his relationships were little more than ways to fill the evenings. But as his journey veered dangerously off course, everything about him began to change. andlt;BRandgt;andnbsp;andnbsp;andnbsp;andnbsp; A gripping adventure of the body and mind, andlt;iandgt;To the Last Breath andlt;/iandgt;depicts the quest that leads Slakey around the globe, almost takes his life, challenges his fiercely held beliefs, and opens his heart. The scientist in Slakey explores the history of Robert Falcon Scottand#8217;s doomed Antarctica expedition, the technology of climbing, and the geophysics of waves. But it is the challenges he endures and the people he encountersand#8212;a Lama who gives him a mysterious amulet, a life-or-death choice atop Everest, an ambush at gunpoint in Indonesia, a head-on collision in the high desertand#8212;that culminate in a moving lesson about what it means to be human.
"At age 37, physicist Slakey decided to climb the highest mountain on every continent and to surf every ocean. Cold and calculating, he imagines that he can work through his list of mountains and oceans in a perfectly efficient manner, assessing and evaluating the risks and completing each challenge. Over the next 10 years, hell-bent on accomplishing his goals, Slakey braves and survives subzero cold in Antarctica, a blizzard on Mt. Everest, and a near-deadly confrontation with a paramilitary group in Indonesia, among other adventures. In this rambling and disjointed memoir of his attempt to conquer mountains and waves, Slakey haltingly attempts to reveal the ways that small events changed him from a detached and insensitive individual into a caring person who recognizes the interconnectedness of all humanity. On his Everest climb, he witnesses a fellow climber giving up his oxygen to a climber in trouble something he would never have thought of doing in his single-minded quest to achieve his goal. Once he leaves Indonesia, he learns that a group of Americans has been ambushed and killed by a group of soldiers; when he meets one of the survivors of that ambush, his hard-heartedness begins to melt even further. Yet by the time Slakey reports his change of heart about the world and others, it's too late, for his arrogant and condescending nature has permeated the memoir, presenting a far more pervasive attitude toward life than the one he says he has embraced." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
In the bestselling tradition of Into Thin Air and Born to Run, Francis Slakey takes readers on a physical and spiritual journey to the most extreme points on Earth and deep inside the human psyche.
Before Georgetown physics professor Francis Slakey decided to climb the highest mountain on every continent and surf every ocean, he had arranged his schedule to match his personal life: completely detached from other people. His lectures were mechanical; his relationships were little more than ways to fill the evenings. But as his journey veered off course, Slakey was ambushed by guerillas, survive a treacherous storm in Antarctica, confronted a fatal decision on Everest—and every escape from death brought him closer to life.
A gripping adventure of the body and mind, To the Last Breath depicts in crystal-clear prose the quest that led Slakey around the globe, challenged his fiercely held beliefs, and opened his heart. Expanding his tale with riveting science and arresting insight into our relation to the earth and one another, Slakey takes readers across the plateaus of Tibet, into the heat of Tanzania, to the desolate edge of the Arctic, and beyond.
About the Author
andlt;Bandgt;Francis Slakeyandlt;/Bandgt; is the Upjohn Lecturer on Physics and Public Policy at Georgetown University and an Associate Director of Public Affairs at the American Physical Society, where his focus is the intersection of science and society. The founder and co-director of the Program on Science in the Public Interest, a Lemelson Associate of the Smithsonian Institution, and a MacArthur Scholar, Dr. Slakey has been featured by NPR, andlt;i andgt;National Geographicandlt;/iandgt;, and others, and his writing has appeared in andlt;i andgt;The Washington Postandlt;/iandgt;, andlt;i andgt;The New York Timesandlt;/iandgt;, andlt;i andgt;Slateandlt;/iandgt;, and andlt;i andgt;Scientific Americanandlt;/iandgt;.