Mud Sweat And Tears Essay

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Mud, Sweat, and Tears: The Autobiography

Bear Grylls. Morrow, $26.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-212419-7

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Grylls has gained a huge audience of fans over seven seasons as star of the Discovery Channel’s Man vs. Wild program, with each episode featuring Grylls living by his wits in dangerous situations in the wild. Already a bestseller in the U.K., this fascinating if irritatingly upbeat memoir of his pre-television life would have been expected to be a hit in the U.S.—except that the show was canceled in March after Grylls was fired for reported contract differences. Nevertheless, his fans may still be interested in learning what made Grylls an adventurer: “the early, bigger missions that shaped me, and the even earlier, smaller moments that steered me.” He begins with some childhood and teenage adventures that make him realize that he “simply loved adventure.” But the bulk of the book describes in detail Grylls’s two most formative experiences: training for and mastering the brutal selection process to join the elite Special Air Services (SAS) unit of the British Special Forces, and his attempts and eventual success in climbing Mt. Everest. Although Grylls’s adventures are fascinating and carefully detailed, the problem with this memoir is that it is written in a basic, one-sentence-per-paragraph style, which may inspire younger readers (“I knew that nothing good in life ever came from quitting”), but which makes Grylls sound far more one-dimensional than he appears to be on his show. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/23/2012
Release date: 05/01/2012

Hardcover - 409 pages - 978-1-905026-48-7

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Ebook - 416 pages - 978-0-06-212414-2

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Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-213540-7

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The air temperature is -20. I'm clinging on to the mountain by my fingernails. Beneath me a vertical drop. A camera comes loose. I tumble 1,000 feet on to the rocks below. Another close shave. I pick myself up. There is a work to do. I love my life.

My great-great-great grandfather was Samuel Smiles who wrote the first self-help book. The gene pool has been rather diluted since then. I can only write in trite aphorisms. God helps them who help themselves. If at first you don't succeed, try again. That sort of thing. It works for me.

I was always a bit wild as a child. That is posh for a bit thick. Luckily that didn't stop me going to public school. Why would it? Eton seriously lacked girls. But that was good for me as I had already decided I wanted to remain a virgin until I got married. My faith has always been very important to me. I have a very simple belief. If you ask, so shall you be given. God has never failed to find me a parking meter. Note to self: no need to pray after 6.30pm.

My mother found my constant need for attention quite tiring. But my Dad totally got me. He said, "Bear, you are a Bear with a very little brain. So go out and do Bearish things like climbing on to the school library roof."

I was seriously broke when I left school. University didn't appeal so I went travelling. Because I've always believed that life is out there to be lived. And I wanted to go out there and grab it. India was amazing. I saw some incredible sights and met some truly awesome people. I came home feeling truly humbled. I've learned never to grumble about anything again.

On my return to England I was even more seriously broke. But I still didn't get a job because I wanted to take on a bigger challenge. I planned to join the SAS reserves. The training was brutal and there are aspects of it I can't mention due to the Official Secrets Act. You will probably wish there were more bits covered by the Act after you have read more than interminable 100 pages about wandering around the Brecon Beacons.

The disappointment I felt at not making the grade was intense. For a while I was at a loss what to do next. Then I remembered my faith. Had God not said unto me, "Go forth and learn how to kill people?" So I went back with my good mate, Trucker – top bloke, the best bloke a bloke could ever want – and told the recruiting officer, I wanted another go. The beasting was almost unbearable. Yet I was determined not to break. It was the proudest day of my life when I was given my beret.

I was seriously, seriously broke by the time I had finished my training. So I went to South Africa, as life is about taking the chances on offer. I was determined to grab any that came along with both hands. Then my parachute failed to open properly. My back was broken in three places. It was a low point. For months I was lost in self-pity before I remembered the story of Lazarus. "You can get it if you really want, but you must try and try," God said. And on the third day I rose again.

It was around this time I met Shara. She is the light of my life. I couldn't do without her. Like my Dad, she is seriously not bothered by how dim I am. I needed to be with her, but I had other things to do. "You are my rock," I told her. "But I must climb another rock."

Everest is seriously high up. It can get bloody cold and dangerous up there. Apparently some people have died there. I came close myself. I had to push myself to the limits to reach the summit. But that's what life is for: pushing yourself to the limits. So that's what I did.

I was seriously, seriously, seriously broke when I came back from Everest. I prayed for guidance. And I got it. A producer said, "We're looking for a thick bloke to take a lot of unnecessary risks." "You've found him," I replied. I see I've already written 400 pages, so I've run out of space to tell you about the bits of my life that might have been more interesting. I will just say I forgive those who claimed my TV shows were put-up stunts and that I stayed in five-star hotels. Everyone needs a little quality time with their family.

Digested read, digested: Do Bears bullshit in the woods?


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