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Publisher's Summary

Joe Simpson, with just his partner, Simon Yates, tackled the unclimbed West Face of the remote 21,000-foot Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in June of 1995. But before they reached the summit, disaster struck.

A few days later, Simon staggered into Base Camp, exhausted and frostbitten, to tell their non-climbing companion that Joe was dead. For three days he wrestled with guilt as they prepared to return home. Then a cry in the night took them out with torches, where they found Joe, badly injured, crawling through the snowstorm in a delirium.

Far from causing Joe's death, Simon had paradoxically saved his friend's life. What happened, and how they dealt with the psychological traumas that resulted when Simon was forced into the appalling decision to cut the rope, makes not only an epic of survival but a compelling testament of friendship.

©1988 Joe Simpson (P)2012 Random House Audiobooks

What listeners say about Touching the Void

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A really slow start

I actually gave up on this book for a while. It seemed to go now where. Though, without giving anything away, there is a critically point where that all changes. From then on I was almost hanging on every word.

6 people found this helpful

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Harrowing and Amazing

An amazing story! The fight for survival and reflection on the psychological strain both men were under throughout their ordeal is equally gripping and heart rending.
My only problem was for someone who doesn't know what different pieces of climbing kit are for, or what different rock/ice formations look like and feature, certain aspects were hard to imagine.

2 people found this helpful

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  • tom
  • 23-08-2017

true stories are often the best stories

i would listen to it for no reason other than it's true, but there definitely are more reasons than that. a captivating story of survival.

2 people found this helpful

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Powerful story; the experience, the writing....

This is a mountaineering story about two friends who want to be the first to summit the West Face of the remote 21,000-foot Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes. It's so much more than that; it's a metaphor for life, and especially for business leaders. It's about being adaptive, intuition - the voices in our heads, friendship, decision making, preparation, planning, action taking, care-taking for yourself and for others, impacts (of all of the above), exploration and the importance of experimentation, importance of quality. Most of all it's a story about holistic agility; from the moment you have the idea to the very moment it is all done, being present from the moment you have the idea, through every increment and continuously adapting till the end. As a keen biography reader this is definitely in my top 3.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant

Made me laugh, made my cry, made me gasp, made my trip quicker. Loved it.

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Harrowing

A small taste of what it might be like to slowly die, alone and cold on the side a mountain

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unputdownable

absolutely amazing story. gives so many struggles a dose of perspective. just so vivid and raw.

1 person found this helpful

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Captivating read

It’s amazing what the human spirit will do to survive! Bugger being a mountaineer though!!

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touching the void. just incredible

amazing story from start to finish. highly recommend. overcoming ridiculous odds in order to survive is incredible

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Great tale of survival against the odds

Very entertaining survival story. Well read and well performed. Makes me want to watch the documentary again.

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  • David Shear
  • 17-01-2014

Wonderfully told true story

Too often, books written based on a true story include too much hyperbole in turning the main character into a hero that did nothing wrong. This story is raw, and honest, and believable, and really well told.

The best part about this story is that it's true. No really, it's true. As you join Simpson in this tale, you'll find yourself saying "no way," but wow, it really happened.

The end of this story wrapped it up so well for me. I won't spoil anything in case you don't already know what happens, but I'll say, that any questions I had were answered by the end.

Whether you are a skier, a hiker, a mountaineer, or just love a great story about human strength and endurance, you'll love this story.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Kathy in CA
  • 14-04-2014

Frightening, emotional & heart-warming true story!

I saw the movie and have never been able to get the story out of my mind. Touching the Void is a true story, a miracle of sorts--a mountaineer left for dead by his climbing partner and his incredible struggle to live. I have always wondered how this could have happened and more particularly, how Joe and Simon felt about what happened. Specifically, how did Joe Simpson feel about his climbing partner after the ordeal? How did Simon Yates react when he learned Joe was still alive when he abandoned him. You can't rely on a movie to tell the real story but you can rely on this book's narrative. It includes segments also by Joe's climbing partner, Simon Yates.

This is an incredible story, beautifully written and very moving. The narration was excellent and I highly recommend this book.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Mark L. Berry
  • 12-05-2016

Captivating Story

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Given to me by a climber friend. Awesome insight into that extreme sport.

Any additional comments?

Captivating story told in alternating first person. I want to see the documentary next.

2 people found this helpful

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  • PoorMannsRose
  • 18-10-2013

Amazing

Any additional comments?

For the non climbers, unfamiliar Mountaineering terminology can leave comprehension gaps in the audio version ( whereas easy to look up if reading ) but still a great story

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 28-06-2020

Better than the Movie

I first saw touching the void during physics class in high school of all places. I was immediately inspired by it and it’s stuck with me throughout the years (I’m 26 now).

When I was looking for audiobooks to listen to on my long runs during my marathon training, I was surprised and pleased to see this one pop up as a suggestion. I am so glad I decided to purchase it! It’s been the best audiobook I’ve listened to so far (admittedly I’ve only gotten in to audiobooks lately so it’s basically 1 out of 10, but still).

I got so in to the story and narration that I couldn’t stop listening long after my run and found myself lying in bed still listening at 1am because I couldn’t go to sleep without hearing how it ended even though I already knew from the film!

It threw me off the first time the narration switched because I wasn’t expecting it, but it actually made the story a lot easier to follow and made it easier to understand the psyche of Simon and Joe by having their perspectives read by different voices.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Heather Straub
  • 28-05-2019

Is he a climber who writes or a writer who climbed?

Beautifully done. I love this author’s way with words. There is a section about 3/4 of the way through (sorry I didn’t bookmark it but it’s near where he recites Shakespeare) where he speaks of the moraines and the malevolent, menacing mountain that gave me deep chills. I’ve been alone in the mountains many times and in physically demanding situations. His descriptions of the patterns you get into when you have to keep going are spot on. Although I thankfully have been through nothing even a fraction as arduous as Joe (I suppose I feel like we are almost friends now after hearing about his ordeal), I recognize many of the sentiments. While many in outdoorsy circles have read this book in the US, I don’t think it’s as widely known here as in Great Britain. Maybe we should make it part of US students’ required reading too - so much more relatable (not to mention enjoyable) than the Last of the Mohicans! If you’re thinking of reading this, stop thinking and do it. It’s not too long and not one word was wasted— my measure of great literature.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Janine
  • 17-04-2021

Love the movie, the book is better

This is a book that I have listened to on multiple occasions. Being a true story drew me in to my initial purchase of the book and I have certainly gotten my monies worth out of it. The movie of the same name is also worth a watch and gives the visual of what it was like. Beautiful but deadly. I'll be listening again some time soon.

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  • M. Thompson
  • 30-03-2021

This story is always gripping even if you already know it

This book is all I have listened to for the past three days. I’ve skipped the news and other podcasts (ok, except for Wait, Wait... Don’t Tell Me). I have a dozen unfinished audiobooks languishing in my library. And I know this story. I would have known the story even if the forward hadn’t spoiled it. It’s just so riveting whether reading, watching, or listening. This should be required reading for everyone.

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  • pam vandenaker
  • 05-03-2021

Compelling Read

This was an amazing adventure! Hard to stop reading! Both climbers are courageous heroes, despite the controversy. This book was mentioned in another book I was reading, and I finished this one first. It's a harrowing tale that illustrates the power of the human mind and spirit. I'm kind of sad to see it end.

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  • Foggb
  • 07-01-2021

Superb.

Unbelievable command of the English language and so well written. The epilogue at the end is very insightful and wonderful to listen to. I throughly enjoyed this book.

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  • Blair Ferguson
  • 13-04-2013

Fantastic listen/read

This book is one of the most inspiring books i have listened to and the naration is first class cant recomend it highly enough

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • SARA-MADGE WYNNE
  • 19-02-2013

A harrowing listen that will keep you gripped

A truly amazing account of survival that will keep you listening to the end and stay with you long after.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Andrew Matthews
  • 10-06-2015

Don't listen whilst driving!

Touching the Void had me hooked from chapter one. I often listened in my car which thinking about it was not so clever as there would be periods of excitement that knocked my concentration from driving!

It's a brilliant story that had me on the edge, made me squirm with thought and almost feel Joe Simpsons desperation.

A must read for anyone who likes real story's told truthfully by the person who experienced them.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Lance Johnson
  • 08-04-2012

Much for all of us to learn!

An excellent read and amazing journey of strength. The way the author survived, setting small goals, going step by step, despite the disabilities he suffered, is amazing, and a lesson for us all. Truly gives illustration of the saying "A million mile journey begins with the first step". There are many issues missed in the the film, that have been covered by the book. Including insights during the incident, what happened after the characters were reunited, and the participants reflection over what went wrong. Much of the lessons learnt can be applied to our own lives. A great listen!

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-04-2021

Great book!

gripping story... was hooked.. great build up.. and ultimate story of survival.. you will not be disappointed ..

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  • Gareth C Rothwell
  • 20-03-2021

Eye opener

This is a great listen, it grips you from the start and it’s relentless pace. You’re immersed and share the experience with both Joe and Simon. You feel their anguish, struggle and success (if you can call it that). If you’re remotely interested in adventure and or more importantly mountaineering, this will teach you unbelievably valuable lessons! The mental gymnastics both Joe and Simon endured is frightening to say the very least, this book give you a glimpse into a new realm! I highly recommend you listen to this before watching the film!!

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  • Klara
  • 29-11-2020

So much better than the film!

By the time Joe got injured, I was checking if I had crampons on my boots as well. Brilliantly descriptive and engaging. So much better than the movie version of the story.

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  • Rocket
  • 11-11-2020

Inspirational story, well worth a read

Not my usual read but definitely a great choice. Incredibly moving story of survival with decent narration too. I really did feel informed and with them in the journey without ever feeling patronised on a subject I didn't know much about. Us humans can be amazing.

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  • nbyrne
  • 10-11-2020

great read, quite gripping at times.

great read and would certainly would recommend. walkers and timbers will find this an amazing story!!!
I've not seen the film so I hope it lives up to same high standards.

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  • J.R Hartley
  • 14-10-2020

incredible story of endurance

amazing story of bravery from simon and endurance from joe. well read and thoughtfully delivered

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