Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know by Ranulph Fiennes – Review

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know

It is without doubt that Fiennes is the greatest living explorer and adventurer. He has conquered many expeditions taking him across the world, many times over. It therefore almost goes without saying that this book, one of his numerous titles, which acts as an autobiography of his adventurous tales, is a marvel and inspirational delight to read.

As Fiennes has led a life purely centred around adventure it would be impossible for him to contain all the stories from each of his expeditions within a mere 350 pages. However Fiennes has cleverly gotten around this, giving insight into the key expeditions that moved him and affected his life in the broader sense. These cherry-picked expeditions are so varied that the book becomes hard to put down. From burning deserts to freezing poles, from the loneliness of unsupported solo travel to the brutality of a warzone, from youth to old age, this book and Fiennes life really does tell many stories. It moves chronologically through Fiennes life picking out pivotal moments and key relationships and stories throughout the way. I have found with other autobiographies, often people who have not done as much, that the book often fizzles away halfway through. However with Fiennes life being so varied and dynamic reading this book is almost like being on the set of a Hollywood blockbuster. I can see now why he was asked to audition for the part of James Bond, unfortunately he was too young at the time so Roger Moore got the part. This is just one of many stories contained within this encapsulating book.

A true masterpiece as not only did it provide a detailed narrative of his life and some of his most prominent expeditions it also serves to inspire, to show that anything is possible no matter who you are as long as you have the mindset to succeed. Throughout the book you are reminded of Fiennes fierce motivation, his willing to succeed and conquer his goals. It is therefore also touching when he talks about failed expeditions and of things in his life which haven’t gone so amazing. The grit he shows just to keep on pushing, sometimes going against medical advice like when he ran 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents just months after a cardiac arrest. Alongside the narrative and motivation are detailed maps and accounts of his expeditions which no doubt serve as invaluable advice from a person who has encountered it all. This is supplemented by references to other books that Fiennes has written which go into more detail about individual expeditions, which could be useful if the reader finds a particular expedition more interesting. Also there are extensive appendices which allow further understanding of the backstories which underlie the book.

Fiennes is one of my hero’s and I can’t believe I have not read his autobiography until now. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys the outdoors and adventure as it is eye-opening as to what is actually possible. It acts to stimulate the ‘adventurers imagination’ as I often found myself dreaming up new exciting expeditions. He is an unbelievable and inspirational man who has lived one of the most adventure filled and diverse lives imaginable a feat which is echoed by this book. A must-have for any adventure or thrill-seeking person.

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