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Killing Dragons

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About the Author

Fergus Fleming is a freelance writer living in London W8 and Gloucestershire. Educated at Oxford University and City University, London, he trained as an accountant and barrister and has worked as a furniture maker. Fergus is also the author of Amaryllis, a portrait of his aunt, and of several children's books. His recent non-fiction book Barrow's Boys, is published by Granta Books.


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. Agent, Clarie Alexander at Gillon Aitken Associates. (Jan.) Forecast: Fleming's second book should get same enthusiastic critical reception as his first. Though the mountaineering history niche is increasingly crowded, Fleming's work stands out for its deft combination of humor, fact and Technicolor description, so strong reviews and good word of mouth should propel sales. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

'Fleming shins up the sheer face of Alpine exploration...[and] is excellent at the detail, excitement and danger of specific climbs.' Literary Review; '[A] richly entertaining as well as highly informative read. Highly recommended.' Focus; '[Fleming] has now corne up with another equally stirring tale...a stylistic equivalent of the modern athlete-climber, leaping from peak to narrative peak...it is hard to imagine the story of men and mountains being told with more gusto.' Sunday Telegraph; 'The story [is] as engrossing as any novel. Its wit and erudition make me think I'll never look at a glacier in the same way. [He] leaves us wanting more. Which, of course, after this excellent book, we do.' Scotland on Sunday; 'Fleming attacks his theme with verve, mining entertainment from eccentric Alpinists, sensational ascents and grisly accidents.' Food and Travel Magazine; 'Fergus Fleming kicks off his book as he continues - by spinning one ripping yarn after another, gleaned from exhaustive research into contemporary accounts.' Daily Telegraph; 'Fergus Fleming['s]...excellent book...[is] a tremendously exciting...account of the mountaineers and their adventures. Fleming tells a ripping good yarn, of which there are dozens in the annals of Alpinism.' Times Literary Supplement; '...it is hard to picture the unassailable, mysterious Alps of the past, but in Fleming's book, they come to glorious life...[a] wonderful book...' Evening Standard; 'Fleming's latest is great fun. An invigorating read' Time Out; 'Killing Dragons is more scientifically alluring and anecdotally toothsome than most travel books, as well as being riddled with improbably hilarious tales of doomed Brits striding up the Matterhorn in boating blazers' Tim Moore, Daily Mail; 'Fergus Fleming [has] an eye for a good story, an appalling scandal or disaster, a savoury fact or intriguing character' The Independent

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