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The Magician's Glass

Character and fate: eight essays on climbing and the mountain life

Paperback (192pp)
  • Paperback £14.95
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Shortlisted for the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature

'How much risk is worth taking for so beautiful a prize?’

The Magician’s Glass by award-winning writer Ed Douglas is a collection of eight recent essays on some of the biggest stories and best-known personalities in the world of climbing.

In the title essay, he writes about failure on Annapurna III in 1981, one of the boldest attempts in Himalayan mountaineering on one of the most beautiful lines  – a line that remains unclimbed to this day.

Douglas writes about bitter controversies, like that surrounding Ueli Steck’s disputed solo ascent of the south face of Annapurna, the fate of Toni Egger on Cerro Torre in 1959 – when Cesare Maestri claimed the pair had made the first ascent, and the rise and fall of Slovenian ace Tomaz Humar. There are profiles of two stars of the 1980s: the much-loved German Kurt Albert, the father of the ‘redpoint’, and the enigmatic rock star Patrick Edlinger, a national hero in his native France who lost his way.

In Crazy Wisdom, Douglas offers fresh perspectives on the impact mountaineering has on local communities and the role climbers play in the developing world. The final essay explores the relationship between art and alpinism as a way of understanding why it is that people climb mountains.

Also available as an ebook:

Kindle UK

Kindle USA



Ed Douglas has been climbing for over thirty-five years and has been a writer and editor for the last thirty. He launched the magazine On The Edge while at university in Manchester, and has published eight books about mountains and their people. His books include biographies of Tenzing Norgay, rock-climbing visionary Ben Moon and the late British mountaineer Alison Hargreaves. His ghostwritten autobiography of Ron Fawcett, Rock Athlete, won the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature in 2010. Three of the essays in The Magician’s Glass were either shortlisted for or won at the Banff Mountain Book Festival in Canada. Douglas’s journalistic work most often appears in The Observer and The Guardian. He is the current editor of the Alpine Journal and lives in Sheffield with his wife Kate. They have two grown-up children.

  • Title: The Magician's Glass
  • Subtitle: Character and fate: eight essays on climbing and the mountain life
  • Author: Ed Douglas
  • Foreword: Katie Ives
  • Imprint: Vertebrate Publishing
  • ISBN: 9781911342489 (trade paperback)
  • Rights: Worldwide
  • Publication date: 31 July 2017
  • Edition: First
  • Size: 234mm x 156mm
  • Extent: 192 pages
  • Cover: Hardback (special edition); Paperback (trade edition)
  • Weight: 300g
  • Retail price: £24 (special edition hardback); £14.95 (trade paperback)

Also available as an ebook:

  • Imprint: Vertebrate Digital
  • ISBN: 9781911342496
  • Publication Date: 31 July 2017
  • Price: £9.99

‘I imagined that Ed Douglas might swoop down in the aftermath and pen an exposé on the fate of ambitious mountain guides, with a title something like ‘Game’s Up Martin Moran’! It is testimony to the quality of Ed’s writing that his work can provoke such imaginative reaction.’ 
– Martin Moran, Scottish Mountaineering Club Journal 

'This is an excellent and thought provoking book.'
– Amazon reviewer

'A great read regardless of the reader being a mountaineer or not.'
– Amazon reviewer

'His collection of eight essays in The Magician’s Glass is a masterpiece that deserves to become a classic.'
– Amazon reviewer

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