By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
Mud, Sweat and Tears
By Bear Grylls (Corgi, $16.95, softcover, 341 pages)
It’s hard to believe when daredevil adventurer Grylls says he’s a regular guy with “plenty of all the usual struggles, self-doubts and flaws that tend to go with life”.
Taking risks has become a big part of his world as he speaks of multiple life-or-death situations he’s faced when he’s on expeditions or out filming. His need for physical triumph comes across as involuntary.
You’ll flinch when reading his list of near-misses: narrowly avoided being eaten by a huge croc in the Australian swamps, having to cut away from his main parachute and coming down on his reserve some 5000ft above the Arctic plateau, bitten by an angry snake in a jungle and being pinned in a big set of whitewater rapids.
How did the son of a conservative member of the British Parliament become, arguably, a famous outdoorsman in the world, starring in his own global television series?
Grylls gets off to what he might call a “cracking” good start, with a focus on his forebears.
Although compelling in spots, the book could be disheartening if new details are sought about every hazardous trek he undertook during the six seasons of Man vs Wild.
It was a fire that burned brightly when he scaled Mount Everest on 26 May 1998, entering The Guinness Book of Records as the youngest climber at 23 years of age.
In fact, this is the gripping highlight of Mud, Sweat and Tears—with its evocative descriptions of altitude sickness, oxygen deprivation and the discovering the snow-covered corpses of previous climbers.
In 2007, he became the first man to fly a powered paraglider to a height above Mount Everest in the Himalayas.
There are other ground-breaking expeditions, but he has a solid creed: “… grab life … then live it boldly and with a smile fortune always favours the brave”.
Edition 400, 11 March 2014
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.