by Ranulph Fiennes
Hodder & Stoughton, HK$128
It's no surprise that Ranulph Fiennes' autobiography - first published in 1987 - needs another update. He is currently attempting to conquer Everest, one of two major failures in his long, adventurous career. In 2006 ill health compelled a retreat near the summit and in 2000 he almost died on a solo walk to the North Pole. Fiennes lost several fingers because of frostbite, which set in after ice gave way under his sledge, forcing him to fish it out. Later, against the advice of doctors, he amputated his digits. 'I purchased a set of fretsaw blades,' the British adventurer writes, 'and gently sawed through the dead skin and bone.' Evident from the accounts is Fiennes' determination once his mind is made up. This explains how he became the first person to reach both poles by land and to cross the Antarctic alone. More proof of his grit came in the form of seven marathons run on seven continents in seven days just weeks after he suffered a near-fatal heart attack. Just about the only softness that comes through is his love for his first wife, Ginny, who died of cancer in 2004. Guinness World Records calls Fiennes 'the greatest living explorer'. Here's hoping the description need not be modified soon.