“An outstanding book.” —The Wall Street Journal * “Gripping at every turn.” —Outside * “A gem of a book.” —The Guardian * “A hell of a ride.” —The Times (London)
An extraordinary true story about one man’s attempt to salve the wounds of war and save his own soul through an audacious adventure.
In the 1930s, as official government expeditions set their sights on conquering Mount Everest, a little-known World War I veteran named Maurice Wilson conceives his own crazy, beautiful plan: he will 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 doesn’t know how to climb. He barely knows how to fly. But he has the right plane, the right equipment, and a deep yearning to achieve his goal. In 1933, he takes 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 is wild: full of twists, turns, and daring. Eventually, in disguise, he sneaks into Tibet. His icy ordeal is just beginning.
Wilson is one of the Great War’s heroes, but also one of its victims. His hometown of Bradford in northern England is ripped apart by the fighting. So is his family. He barely survives the war himself. Wilson returns from the conflict unable to cope with the sadness that engulfs him. He begins a years-long trek around the world, burning through marriages and relationships, leaving damaged lives in his wake. When he finally returns to England, nearly a decade after he first left, he finds himself falling in love once more—this time with his best friend’s wife—before depression overcomes him again. He emerges from his funk with a crystalline ambition. He wants to be the first man to stand on top of the world. Wilson believes that Everest can 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.
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.
James Langton trained as an actor at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and later as a musician at the Guildhall School in London. He has worked in radio, film and television, also appearing in theater in England and on Broadway. James was born in York, England and now lives in New York City.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (November 17, 2020)
"This audiobook chronicles the life of adventurer Maurice Wilson, who returns from WWI with a dream of conquering Mt. Everest. Narrator James Langton skillfully introduces listeners to the fascinating and utterly outrageous Wilson, his mistresses, and his wives as he hunts down sources of money to fund his quest. He makes several attempts to climb and one attempt to fly and land on Everest—all unsuccessful. Finally, Wilson decides to walk up the mountain by himself with no food, no equipment, and no heavy clothing. Langton uses humor and angst in equal parts to uncover what drives Wilson to persist. He succeeds where Wilson could not, giving listeners a revealing performance of this Don Quixote of Everest."