Tuesday, 14 June 2011

AUTOBIOGRAPHY REVIEW: Blood, Sweat and Tears - Bear Grylls

Release Date: 26/05/11


Bear Grylls is a man who has always sought the ultimate in adventure. Growing up on the Isle of Wight, he was taught by his father to sail and climb at an early age. Inevitably, it wasn't long before Bear was leading out-of-bounds night-climbing missions at school. As a teenager, he found identity and purpose through both mountaineering and martial arts, which led the young adventurer to the foothills of the mighty Himalaya and a grandmaster's karate training camp in Japan. On returning home, he embarked upon the notoriously gruelling selection course for the British Special Forces to join 21 SAS - a journey that was to push him to the very limits of physical and mental endurance. Then, in a horrific free-fall parachuting accident in Africa, Bear broke his back in three places. It was touch and go whether he would ever walk again. However, only eighteen months later and defying doctors' expectations, Bear became one of the youngest ever climbers to scale Everest, aged only twenty-three. But this was just the beginning of his many extraordinary adventures ...Known and admired by millions - whether from his global adventure TV series, as a bestselling author, or as Chief Scout to the Scouting Association - Bear Grylls has survived where few would dare to go. Now, for the first time, Bear tells the story of his action-packed life. Gripping, moving and wildly exhilarating, Mud, Sweat and Tears is a must-read for adrenalin junkies and armchair adventurers alike.


Like a great many others, I’ve watched Born Survivor with a gory fascination. Let’s face it you’d never know what Bear would be up to or perhaps more precisely what would be on the menu for that week. It became a journey into the macabre world of survival and pot luck as to what would turn up. Whilst I did know a little about him from the show, when I had the opportunity to read his autobiography I felt that I’d best give it a go just so that I could get a fuller picture as to how the character you see on the screen meets up to the standards of real life.

Whilst the autobiography can be revealing I did wonder why Bear (or rather Edward) felt it necessary to bring in his lineage into the whole thing, yes parts of it did allude to his sense of fun but when a fair amount felt more like dropping into the social circles that his family moved in, for me it left me unable to associate with the privileged upbringing to which fate allowed him. Add to that a fair bit about his religious convictions and whilst I can see how each part formed his character it was stuff that could have been edited to quite a small part of the story.

Another area that did get to you was the writing style, it felt more like a dictated anecdotes that were tailored together to help form a whole. As such the timeline jumped all over the place and whilst the wording fitted in with what the reader will know of him, it does take quite a while to get used to this style, especially when you’ve got what felt like 50 pages of waffle to start. It is a title that is going to be hard going for a number of readers and whilst some of the tales within will make you laugh, a fair few of the others will have you wondering exactly who this guy thinks he is. In addition the title could have been better edited to get the reader to the nitty gritty of the story rather than taking the round the houses route and personally I’d have preferred maybe a little backstory but the majority to be about the skinny on behind the scenes of the show.

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