To the last breath A memoir of going to extremes

Francis Slakey

Book - 2012

A Georgetown University physics professor describes the rigidly scheduled and isolated existence he led before embarking on a life-risking effort to climb the world's highest mountains and surf every ocean.

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Subjects
Published
New York : Simon & Schuster 2012.
Edition
1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed
Language
English
Physical Description
252 p. : ill. (some col.), maps ; 25 cm
ISBN
9781439198957
1439198950
Main Author
Francis Slakey (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

From the moment as a teen that he jumped off a four-story apartment building into a narrow, shallow swimming pool, taking calculated risks with his body became a habit for physics professor Slakey. He was always confident that through planning he could cheat death and injury from any height. Wanting to outdo all other daredevils, he decided not only to climb the highest peak on every continent but also to surf every ocean. Scarred by his mother's early death, he resolved to form no emotional attachments that could slow this quest or, more important, break his heart again. Vowing never to marry, buy a house, or have children, he worked just to support his globetrotting. In his lively memoir, Slakey recounts how, after a series of extraordinary experiences transformed his thinking, he began to involve himself in political causes, improve his teaching, and break all his vows. For readers who like adventure and romance. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

At age 37, physicist Slakey decided to climb the highest mountain on every continent and to surf every ocean. Cold and calculating, he imagines that he can work through his list of mountains and oceans in a perfectly efficient manner, assessing and evaluating the risks and completing each challenge. Over the next 10 years, hell-bent on accomplishing his goals, Slakey braves and survives subzero cold in Antarctica, a blizzard on Mt. Everest, and a near-deadly confrontation with a paramilitary group in Indonesia, among other adventures. In this rambling and disjointed memoir of his attempt to conquer mountains and waves, Slakey haltingly attempts to reveal the ways that small events changed him from a detached and insensitive individual into a caring person who recognizes the interconnectedness of all humanity. On his Everest climb, he witnesses a fellow climber giving up his oxygen to a climber in trouble—something he would never have thought of doing in his single-minded quest to achieve his goal. Once he leaves Indonesia, he learns that a group of Americans has been ambushed and killed by a group of soldiers; when he meets one of the survivors of that ambush, his hard-heartedness begins to melt even further. Yet by the time Slakey reports his change of heart about the world and others, it's too late, for his arrogant and condescending nature has permeated the memoir, presenting a far more pervasive attitude toward life than the one he says he has embraced. (May) [Page ]. Copyright 2012 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A Georgetown University physics professor describes the rigidly scheduled and isolated existence he led before embarking on a life-risking effort to climb the world's highest mountains and surf every ocean, goals that pitted him against natural and human dangers while challenging his most passionate beliefs. 100,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A Georgetown University physics professor describes the rigidly scheduled and isolated existence he led before embarking on a life-risking effort to climb the world's highest mountains and surf every ocean.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

In the bestselling tradition of Into Thin Air and Born to Run, Francis Slakey takes readers on a physical and spiritual journey to the most extreme points on Earth and deep inside the human psyche. A journey to the most extreme points on Earth and deep inside the human spirit      Before Georgetown physics professor Francis Slakey set out to climb the highest mountain on every continent and surf every ocean, he had shut himself off from other people. His lectures were mechanical; his relationships were little more than ways to fill the evenings. But as his journey veered dangerously off course, everything about him began to change.      A gripping adventure of the body and mind, To the Last Breath depicts the quest that leads Slakey around the globe, almost takes his life, challenges his fiercely held beliefs, and opens his heart. The scientist in Slakey explores the history of Robert Falcon Scott’s doomed Antarctica expedition, the technology of climbing, and the geophysics of waves. But it is the challenges he endures and the people he encounters—a Lama who gives him a mysterious amulet, a life-or-death choice atop Everest, an ambush at gunpoint in Indonesia, a head-on collision in the high desert—that culminate in a moving lesson about what it means to be human.