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The Maverick Mountaineer: The remarkable life of George Ingle Finch: Climber, scientist, inventor

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In the spring of 1901 a teenager stood on top of a hill, gazed out in wonderment at the Australian landscape and decided he wanted to be a mountaineer. Two decades later, the same man stood in a blizzard beneath the summit of Mount Everest, within sight of his goal to be the first to stand on the roof of the world. George Finch, a boy from the bush, was at the highest poin In the spring of 1901 a teenager stood on top of a hill, gazed out in wonderment at the Australian landscape and decided he wanted to be a mountaineer. Two decades later, the same man stood in a blizzard beneath the summit of Mount Everest, within sight of his goal to be the first to stand on the roof of the world. George Finch, a boy from the bush, was at the highest point ever reached by a human being and only his decision to save the life of his stricken companion stopped him from reaching the summit. George Finch was a rebel of the first order, a man who dared to challenge the British establishment who disliked his independence, background, long hair and lack of an Oxbridge education. Despite this, he not only became one of the world's greatest alpinists, earning the grudging respect of his rival George Mallory, but pioneered the use of the artificial oxygen that enabled Everest to finally be conquered 30 years after his own attempt. A renowned scientist, a World War I hero and a Fellow of the Royal Society, involved in the development of some of the twentieth century's most important inventions, his skills helped save London from burning to the ground during the Blitz. Finch's public accomplishments, however, were shadowed by his complicated private life and his fraught relationship with his son, the actor Peter Finch. Acclaimed biographer Robert Wainwright restores George Finch to his rightful place in history with this remarkable tribute to one of the twentieth century's most eccentric anti-heroes.


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In the spring of 1901 a teenager stood on top of a hill, gazed out in wonderment at the Australian landscape and decided he wanted to be a mountaineer. Two decades later, the same man stood in a blizzard beneath the summit of Mount Everest, within sight of his goal to be the first to stand on the roof of the world. George Finch, a boy from the bush, was at the highest poin In the spring of 1901 a teenager stood on top of a hill, gazed out in wonderment at the Australian landscape and decided he wanted to be a mountaineer. Two decades later, the same man stood in a blizzard beneath the summit of Mount Everest, within sight of his goal to be the first to stand on the roof of the world. George Finch, a boy from the bush, was at the highest point ever reached by a human being and only his decision to save the life of his stricken companion stopped him from reaching the summit. George Finch was a rebel of the first order, a man who dared to challenge the British establishment who disliked his independence, background, long hair and lack of an Oxbridge education. Despite this, he not only became one of the world's greatest alpinists, earning the grudging respect of his rival George Mallory, but pioneered the use of the artificial oxygen that enabled Everest to finally be conquered 30 years after his own attempt. A renowned scientist, a World War I hero and a Fellow of the Royal Society, involved in the development of some of the twentieth century's most important inventions, his skills helped save London from burning to the ground during the Blitz. Finch's public accomplishments, however, were shadowed by his complicated private life and his fraught relationship with his son, the actor Peter Finch. Acclaimed biographer Robert Wainwright restores George Finch to his rightful place in history with this remarkable tribute to one of the twentieth century's most eccentric anti-heroes.

30 review for The Maverick Mountaineer: The remarkable life of George Ingle Finch: Climber, scientist, inventor

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dianne Marshall

    great to read about an Aussie who achieved despite the attitudes of those who appear to be defending their social status against someone who would dare to challenge them. Interesting that he isnt someone that gets a mention historically.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Karen Beath

    I really enjoyed this book. It was a fascinating insight into a lesser known player in the race to be the first person to summit Everest. George Finch played a huge role in introducing bottled oxygen to the expeditions and almost summited before Mallory's fateful attempt. I was left wondering, would Mallory's last attempt have taken a different course if George Finch had been on that expedition? It was also interesting to see the class system at work in the UK - it really inhibited Finch's potent I really enjoyed this book. It was a fascinating insight into a lesser known player in the race to be the first person to summit Everest. George Finch played a huge role in introducing bottled oxygen to the expeditions and almost summited before Mallory's fateful attempt. I was left wondering, would Mallory's last attempt have taken a different course if George Finch had been on that expedition? It was also interesting to see the class system at work in the UK - it really inhibited Finch's potential. Finch's life in science and his personal life are also well documented. His personal life in particular is quite tumultuous. I think my biggest misgivings with the book revolve around obvious bias towards Finch. He did have some serious flaws but these seem to be painted over with the argument that people didn't like him because he was Australian and had new ideas. I got the impression that he could be someone who was at times difficult to get along with and I can understand the arguments behind not wanting to use bottled oxygen. His personal life was a little more difficult to cover up and at times he was downright awful. Aside from this, it is still a fascinating book and highly recommended for anyone interested in the history of hiking, rock climbing and mountaineering.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Peter Franklin

    Interesting story of a very competent planner of mountain climbs and highly skilled. Also an extremely good chemist I did enjoy reading this and was quite interested in how advanced George Finch was as far as mountaineering equipment. He made himself down clothing whilst all other climbers were in traditional woollen clothes and jackets. He also used lots of layering with clothing to achieve levels of warmth. Finch was a pioneer and advocate of using oxygen for Himalayan peaks much to the conste Interesting story of a very competent planner of mountain climbs and highly skilled. Also an extremely good chemist I did enjoy reading this and was quite interested in how advanced George Finch was as far as mountaineering equipment. He made himself down clothing whilst all other climbers were in traditional woollen clothes and jackets. He also used lots of layering with clothing to achieve levels of warmth. Finch was a pioneer and advocate of using oxygen for Himalayan peaks much to the consternation of most others and had to fight hard to convince them. A chunk of the book deals with the Everest expeditions of 1921 and 1922 and the rivalry with Mallory. Because of the nasty nature of the English alpine club establishment George Finch was not asked to go on the ill fated 1924 expedition. He was barred from the 1921 one and it was only because he was the best mountaineer living in England, although Australian by birth; a factor that also the stuffy establishment resented.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lorenzio Phillibuster Fireworks

    I have never entertained the idea of climbing mountains but I really enjoyed this and certainly learned a lot from it. Despite some questionable personal live choices, he has achieved a lot in his career as a scientist and as a climber, with much mixing of the two, and yet I'd never heard of him. There's a lot of great primary sources and I really enjoyed the details of the climbing, the aristocratic society of the climbing club and their rejection if George and how his adventures shaped the cli I have never entertained the idea of climbing mountains but I really enjoyed this and certainly learned a lot from it. Despite some questionable personal live choices, he has achieved a lot in his career as a scientist and as a climber, with much mixing of the two, and yet I'd never heard of him. There's a lot of great primary sources and I really enjoyed the details of the climbing, the aristocratic society of the climbing club and their rejection if George and how his adventures shaped the climbing exploration experience around the world.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sandeep Chopra

    This is a book about an outstanding mountaineer who should have been the first person to reach the summit of Mount Everest. But fate and politics didn’t let him. This is a book about an intellectual and scientific genius who should have won a Nobel Prize. But he was too busy on the slopes of Mount Everest and other mountains when that could have happened. This is a story of a man who probably towers higher than some of the heroes we have been familiar with. And it is a story of jealousy, treache This is a book about an outstanding mountaineer who should have been the first person to reach the summit of Mount Everest. But fate and politics didn’t let him. This is a book about an intellectual and scientific genius who should have won a Nobel Prize. But he was too busy on the slopes of Mount Everest and other mountains when that could have happened. This is a story of a man who probably towers higher than some of the heroes we have been familiar with. And it is a story of jealousy, treachery, passion, and ultimate recognition. And it is a true story. It can’t get better than that. In the backdrop of all of this towers the greatest mountain of them all.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Karen Botten

    If you like biographies you need to read this. Even if you don't you probably should read it anyway. A very interesting book about an amazing man; I can't believe I (and probably most people) had never heard of him. If you like biographies you need to read this. Even if you don't you probably should read it anyway. A very interesting book about an amazing man; I can't believe I (and probably most people) had never heard of him.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Brown

    Interesting but really quite disjointed. Still worth a read but not if your looking for a mountaineering book.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Heather Barrett

    Super reading, a nail-biting page turner at times. It has been an unusual biography for me in the way that the author Wainwright brought such tension and excitement to the mountaineering passages, and how angry I felt too when the he detailed some of the elitism and misinformation based on petty jealousy and suspicion enacted against George Finch! An excellent researched and well written biography!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Walker

    It showed what an impressive individual George Finch was. Very well written and researched. I do enjoy mountaineering books as such, so a slight bias there, but this excellent book would be enjoyed by anyone.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lesley

    Fascinating account of the life of this little-known mountaineer and contemporary of George Mallory, who was much maligned and badly treated by the establishment. It's highly probable that, had attitudes been different, Finch would have succeeded in summitting Everest in 1922. Fascinating account of the life of this little-known mountaineer and contemporary of George Mallory, who was much maligned and badly treated by the establishment. It's highly probable that, had attitudes been different, Finch would have succeeded in summitting Everest in 1922.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Susan Grimshaw

    Excellent biography which puts the record straight and portrays George Finch as the brilliant man he was.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jo Hyde

    Excellent A really well written and interesting piece of history that needed to be told. What an amazing account of this truly remarkable man.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Peter Hammond

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mary Shade

  15. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Farrell

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dermie

  17. 4 out of 5

    MelD

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ula

  19. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

  20. 5 out of 5

    helen morganti

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marina Herriman

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ray Murdoch

  23. 4 out of 5

    Peter Michael Martin

  24. 5 out of 5

    Neil

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joe

  26. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Cloete

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Patchett

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jane Williamson

  29. 5 out of 5

    Erin Mitchell

  30. 4 out of 5

    Varun Agrawal

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