They may seem depressing alternative choices to dark Scandinavian crime fiction but in fact one of them, Into The Silence, The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest by Wade Davis was an inspiring tribute to the men who survived the trenches to risk their lives climbing Everest in the 1920s. Into The Silence has been nominated for the BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize and must be a strong contender as despite its length, 578 tightly packed pages, it is a wonderfully interesting read. Within its covers are an English social history of the Edwardian upper class, a demolition of the Great War generals, tales about the Raj, information on Tibetan culture, and an exciting story of mountaineering on the highest point on the planet.
Europe’s Last Summer by David Fromkin goes into great detail about the path by which Europe went down the path to war in 1914 lead by leaders who did not really understand what they were doing. The Great War was the tragedy from which all the other tragedies over the last century have flowed.
As late as 1926, as the nation mourned the death of nearly 1 million men, Haig would write on the future of war. ” I believe that the value of the horse and the opportunity of the horse in the future are likely to be as great as ever. Aeroplanes and tanks are only accessories to the men and the horse, and I feel sure that as time goes on you will find just as much use for the horse-the well bred horse-as you have ever done in the past.” Into The Silence: Wade Davis
[Update 13 November: Into The Silence by Wade Davis did win the Samuel Johnson Prize]