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Everest saga wins Samuel Johnson nonfiction prize

The Associated Press, Monday, November 12, 2012, 1:51pm (PST)

LONDON (AP) — A gripping account of a doomed attempt to climb Mount Everest has won Britain's leading nonfiction book prize.

"Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest" by Canadian author Wade Davis was awarded the 20,000 pound ($32,000) Samuel Johnson Prize on Monday.

British mountaineer Mallory — the man who famously declared he wanted to climb Everest "because it is there" — died on the world's highest peak in 1924, and debate still rages about whether he reached the summit.

Davis sets the expedition in the context of Britain's imperial history and the trauma of World War I.

David Willetts, a British Conservative lawmaker who chaired the judging panel, said the book is "an exciting story of human endeavor imbued with deep historical significance."

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