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Killing Dragons

The Conquest of the Alps

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In a riveting narrative of daredevils and eccentrics, Fergus Fleming gives us the breathtaking story of some of history's greatest explorers as they conquer the soaring peaks of the Alps. Fleming recounts the incredible exploits of the men whose centuries-old fear of the mountain range turned quickly to curiosity, then to obsession, as they explored Europe's frozen wilderness. In the late eighteenth century French and Swiss scientists became interested in the Alps as a research destination, but in the 1850s the focus changed: the icy mountains now offered an all-out competition for British climbers who wanted to conquer ever higher and more impossible heights, and explorers fought each other on the peaks and in the press, entertaining a vast public smitten with their bravery, delighted by their personal animosities, and horrified by the disasters that befell them. "...excellent popular history, with its proper share of mad dogs and Englishmen....Fleming's rendition is dramatic and masterful." -- Anthony Brandt, National Geographic Adventure

From Publishers Weekly

Jan 01, 2001 – Showing a remarkable ability to mix well-researched history with engaging depictions of the people who made it, Fleming (Barrow's Boys) chronicles the many frigid explorations that brought much of the world its first scientific knowledge of Europe's highest peaks. Fleming remains true to the qualities that made his first book, a study of England's frenzied 19th-century global exploration, so enjoyable. He not only supplies an abundance of information but also punctuates his facts with wit and illustrative stories. Beginning with the first Alpine forays in the early 1700s and continuing through later explorations up until World War II, Fleming outlines the prominent figures who braved the mountains' austere climate in the name of science and, more often, the spirit of vanity. The title refers to the entrenched belief that the Alps' upper reaches were inhabited by a dangerous menagerie of fairy-tale brutes. It was a sentiment that died hard. With characteristic wit, he describes a German physics professor who reconnoitered in the mountains in the 18th century and "set at rest a question that had haunted people for a long time. Yes, the Alps did contain dragons." The landscape's ethereal nature surely inspired the imagination, but eventually explorers became more concerned with bettering their knowledge and, among later English climbing rivals, besting each other. The characters Fleming discusses range from Rousseau to the Romantic poets, from genuine innovators to the "Indefatigable Bourrit," who was defeated by the elements on nearly every climb he attempted.
Killing Dragons
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  • $13.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Mountaineering
  • Published: Feb 04, 2002
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Seller: The Perseus Books Group, LLC
  • Print Length: 416 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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