Wade Davis has won the £20,000 Samuel Johnson prize for Non-Fiction for his book about George Mallory’s attempt to conquer Everest 90 years ago.
Judges said the book Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest managed to “shed new light on events and stories we already knew". Davis, an explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, spent 10 years researching and writing the book and flew in from New York last night (12th November) to receive the prize at a ceremony in London.
Chair of the judges, universities minister MP David Willetts, said: “This fascinating historical narrative of a great adventure manages to shed new light on events and stories we thought we already knew. It’s an exciting story of human endeavour imbued with deep historical significance.
"Wade’s scrupulous use of sources and attention to detail, combined with his storytelling skills and ability to enters into the minds of the people he is writing about, make this a thoroughly enlightening and enjoyable book.”
Foyles' Jonathan Ruppin added: "This examination of why Hilary chose to confront the might of Everest and how he challenged the boundaries of human endurance makes the expedition a landmark comparable with the Apollo 11.”
The shortlist also comprised: Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo (Portobello Books)' The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane (Hamish Hamilton); The Better Angels of our Nature by Steven Pinker (Allen Lane); The Spanish Holocaust by Paul Preston (HarperPress); and Strindberg: A Life, by Sue Prideaux (Yale University Press).