Synopses & Reviews
From New Yorker writer Ed Caesar, The Moth and the Mountain is a sweeping true story about one man's attempt to salve the wounds of war and save his own soul through an audacious adventure: flying his biplane five thousand miles across the world and attempting to become the first person to summit Mt. Everest.
In the 1930s, as official government expeditions set their sights on conquering Everest, a little-known World War I veteran named Maurice Wilson conceived his own crazy, beautiful plan: he would fly a plane from England to Everest, crash land on its lower slopes, then become the first person to reach its summit — all utterly alone. Wilson didn't know how to climb. He barely knew how to fly. But he had the right plane, the right equipment, and a deep yearning to achieve his goal. In 1933, he took 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 was wild: full of twists, turns, and daring. Eventually, in disguise, he sneaked into Tibet. His icy ordeal was barely beginning.
Wilson was one of the Great War's heroes, but also one of its victims. His hometown of Bradford, in northern England, was ripped apart by the fighting. So was his family. He barely survived the war himself. Wilson returned from the conflict unable to cope with the sadness that engulfed him. He began a years-long trek around the world, burning through marriages and relationships, leaving damaged lives in his wake. When he finally returned to England, nearly a decade after he first left, he found himself falling in love once more — this time with his best friend's wife — before depression overcame him again. He emerged from his funk with a crystalline ambition. He wanted to be the first man to stand on top of the world. Wilson believed that Everest could redeem him.
This is the 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.
"The Moth and the Mountain is gorgeous and deeply affecting book: a tale of tragedy and obsession, pluck and luck, told at the pace of a thriller and bursting with heart." Dan Jones, author of The Templars
"A wonderful adventure story, beautifully told. Based on years of painstaking archival research, Ed Caesar's The Moth and the Mountain brings us a modern-day myth with a beguiling, impossible hero from a vanished era of empire, one man on an epic quest that is by turns gripping and heartbreaking." Adam Higginbotham, author of Midnight in Chernobyl
"In Ed Caesar's telling, the hapless, defiant Wilson becomes an unexpected hero — an unforgettable inspiration for anyone who chafes at the limits of ordinary life." Benjamin Moser, author of Sontag
About the Author
Ed Caesar is an author and a contributing writer to The New Yorker. Before joining The New Yorker, Caesar wrote stories for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Outside, The Smithsonian Magazine, Esquire, The Sunday Times (London), British GQ, and The Independent. He has reported from a wide range of countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kosovo, Russia, and Iran. He has won a number of awards for his journalism, including the 2014 Journalist of the Year from the Foreign Press Association of London. His first book, Two Hours: The Quest to Run the Impossible Marathon, was awarded a Cross Sports Book of the Year award.