Paths of Glory

Paths of Glory

Audio CD(Abridged)

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Some people have dreams that are so magnificent that if they were to achieve them, their place in history would be guaranteed.  People like Christopher Columbus, Isaac Newton, Florence Nightingale, Thomas Edison, Nancy Astor, Charles Lindbergh, Amy Johnson, Edmund Hilary and Neil Armstrong—their unparalleled success has made their stories into legend.  But what if one man had such a dream, and once he’d achieved it, there was no proof that he had fulfilled his ambition?

Jeffrey Archer’s new novel, Paths of Glory, is the story of such a man—George Mallory. Born in 1886, he was a brilliant student who became part of the Bloomsbury Group at Cambridge in the early twentieth century and served in the Royal Garrison Artillery during World War I. After the war, he married, had three children, and would have spent the rest of his life as a schoolteacher, but for his love of mountain climbing.

Mallory once told a reporter that he wanted to climb Mt. Everest, “because it is there.” On his third try in 1924, at age thirty-seven, he was last seen four hundred feet from the top. His body was found in 1999, and it remains a mystery whether he and his climbing partner, Andrew Irvine, ever reached the summit.

In fact, not until you’ve turned the last page of Archer’s extraordinary novel will you be able to decide if George Mallory should be added to that list of legends, while another name would have to be removed.  Paths of Glory is truly a triumph.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781427206237
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publication date: 03/03/2009
Edition description: Abridged
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 5.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Jeffrey Archer was educated at Oxford University. He has served five years in Britain's House of Commons and fourteen years in the House of Lords. All of his novels and short story collections--including And Thereby Hangs a Tale, Kane and Abel, and False Impression--have been international bestselling books. Archer is married with two sons and lives in London and Cambridge.


London and the Old Vicarage, Grantchester

Date of Birth:

April 15, 1940


Attended Brasenose College, Oxford, 1963-66. Received a diploma in sports education from Oxford Institute

Read an Excerpt

Paths of Glory

By Jeffrey Archer

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2009 Jeffrey Archer
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-7169-0



IF YOU HAD asked George why he'd begun walking toward the rock, he wouldn't have been able to tell you. The fact that he had to wade into the sea to reach his goal didn't appear to concern him, even though he couldn't swim.

Only one person on the beach that morning showed the slightest interest in the six-year-old boy's progress. The Reverend Leigh Mallory folded his copy of The Times and placed it on the sand at his feet. He didn't alert his wife, who was lying on the deckchair beside him, eyes closed, enjoying the occasional rays of sunshine, oblivious to any danger their eldest son might be facing. He knew that Annie would only panic, the way she had when the boy had climbed onto the roof of the village hall during a meeting of the Mothers' Union.

The Reverend Mallory quickly checked on his other three children, who were playing contentedly by the water's edge, unconcerned with their brother's fate. Avie and Mary were happily collecting seashells that had been swept in on the morning tide, while their younger brother Trafford was concentrating on filling a small tin bucket with sand. Mallory's attention returned to his son and heir, who was still heading resolutely toward the rock. He was not yet worried, surely the boy would eventually realize he had to turn back. But he rose from his deckchair once the waves began to cover the boy's knee breeches.

Although George was now almost out of his depth, the moment he reached the jagged outcrop he deftly pulled himself out of the sea and leaped from rock to rock, quickly reaching the top. There he settled himself, and stared out toward the horizon. Although his favorite subject at school was history, clearly no one had told him about King Canute.

His father was now watching with some trepidation as the waves surged carelessly around the rocks. He waited patiently for the boy to become aware of the danger he was in, when he would surely turn and ask for help. He didn't. When the first spray of foam touched the boy's toes, the Reverend Mallory walked slowly down to the water's edge. "Very good, my boy," he murmured as he passed his youngest, who was now intently building a sandcastle. But his eyes never left his eldest son, who still hadn't looked back, even though the waves were now lapping around his ankles. The Reverend Mallory plunged into the sea and started to swim toward the rock, but with each slow lunge of his military breast-stroke he became more aware that it was much further away than he had realized.

He finally reached his goal, and pulled himself onto the rock. As he clambered awkwardly to the top he cut his legs in several places, showing none of the sure-footedness his son had earlier displayed. Once he'd joined the boy, he tried not to reveal that he was out of breath and in some considerable discomfort.

That's when he heard her scream. He turned to observe his wife, standing at the water's edge, shouting desperately, "George! George!"

"Perhaps we should be making our way back, my boy," suggested the Reverend Mallory, trying not to sound at all concerned. "We don't want to worry your mother, do we?"

"Just a few more moments, Papa," begged George, who continued to stare resolutely out to sea. But his father decided they couldn't wait any longer, and pulled his son gently off the rock.

It took the two of them considerably longer to reach the safety of the beach, as the Reverend Mallory, cradling his son in his arms, had to swim on his back, only able to use his legs to assist him. It was the first time George became aware that return journeys can take far longer.

When George's father finally collapsed on the beach, George's mother rushed across to join them. She fell on her knees and smothered the child in her bosom, crying, "Thank God, thank God," while showing scant interest in her exhausted husband. George's two sisters stood several paces back from the advancing tide, quietly sobbing, while his younger brother continued to build his fortress, far too young for any thoughts of death to have crossed his mind.

The Reverend Mallory eventually sat up and stared at his eldest son, who was once again looking out to sea although the rock was no longer in sight. He accepted for the first time that the boy appeared to have no concept of fear, no sense of risk.


DOCTORS, PHILOSOPHERS, AND even historians have debated the significance of heredity when trying to understand the success or failure of succeeding generations. Had a historian studied George Mallory's parents, he would have been hard pressed to explain their son's rare gift, not to mention his natural good looks and presence.

George's father and mother considered themselves to be upper middle class, even if they lacked the resources to maintain such pretensions. The Reverend Mallory's parishioners at Mobberley in Cheshire considered him to be High Church, hidebound and narrow-minded, and were unanimously of the opinion that his wife was a snob. George, they concluded, must have inherited his gifts from some distant relative. His father was well aware that his elder son was no ordinary child, and was quite willing to make the necessary sacrifices to ensure that George could begin his education at Glengorse, a fashionable prep school in the south of England.

George often heard his father say, "We'll just have to tighten our belts, especially if Trafford is to follow in your footsteps." After considering these words for some time, he inquired of his mother if there were any prep schools in England that his sisters might attend.

"Good heavens no," she replied disdainfully. "That would simply be a waste of money. In any case, what would be the point?"

"For a start, it would mean Avie and Mary had the same opportunities as Trafford and me," suggested George.

His mother scoffed. "Why put the girls through such an ordeal, when it would not advance their chances of securing a suitable husband by one jot?"

"Isn't it possible," suggested George, "that a husband might benefit from being married to a well-educated woman?"

"That's the last thing a man wants," his mother responded. "You'll find out soon enough that most husbands simply require their wife to provide them with an heir and a spare, and to organize the servants."

George was unconvinced, and decided he would wait for an appropriate opportunity to raise the subject with his father.

The Mallorys' summer holiday of 1896 was not spent at St. Bees, bathing, but in the Malvern Hills, hiking. While the rest of the family quickly discovered that none of them could keep up with George, his father at least made a valiant attempt to accompany him to the higher slopes, while the other Mallorys were happy to wander in the valleys below.

With his father puffing away several yards behind, George re-opened the vexed question of his sisters' education. "Why aren't girls given the same opportunities as boys?"

"It's not the natural order of things, my boy," panted his father.

"And who decides the natural order of things?"

"God," responded the Reverend Mallory, feeling he was on safer ground. "It was He who decreed that man should labor to gain sustenance and shelter for his family, while his spouse remained at home and tended to their offspring."

"But He must have noticed that women are often blessed with more common sense than men. I'm sure He's aware that Avie is far brighter than either Trafford or me."

The Reverend Mallory fell back, as he required a little time to consider his son's argument, and even longer to decide how he should answer it. "Men are naturally superior to women," he eventually suggested, not sounding altogether convinced, before lamely adding, "and we should not attempt to meddle with nature."

"If that is true, Papa, how has Queen Victoria managed to reign so successfully for more than sixty years?"

"Simply because there wasn't a male heir to inherit the throne," replied his father, feeling he was entering uncharted waters.

"How lucky for England that no man was available when Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne either," suggested George. "Perhaps the time has come to allow girls the same opportunity as boys to make their way in the world."

"That would never do," spluttered his father. "Such a course of action would overturn the natural order of society. If you had your way, George, how would your mother ever be able to find a cook or a scullery maid?"

"By getting a man to do the job," George suggested guilelessly.

"Good heavens, George, I do believe you're turning into a free-thinker. Have you been listening to the rantings of that Bernard Shaw fellow?"

"No, Papa, but I have been reading his pamphlets."

It is not unusual for parents to suspect that their progeny just might be brighter than they are, but the Reverend Mallory was not willing to admit as much when George had only recently celebrated his tenth birthday. George was ready to fire his next question, only to find that his father was falling further and further behind. But then, when it came to climbing, even the Reverend Mallory had long ago accepted that his son was in a different class.


GEORGE DIDN'T CRY when his parents sent him away to prep school. Not because he didn't want to, but because another boy, dressed in the same red blazer and short gray trousers, was bawling his head off on the other side of the carriage.

Guy Bullock came from a different world. He wasn't able to tell George exactly what his father did for a living, but whatever it was, the word industry kept cropping up — something George felt confident his mother wouldn't approve of. Another thing also became abundantly clear after Guy had told him about his family holiday in the Pyrenees. This was a child who had never come across the expression We'll have to tighten our belts. Still, by the time they arrived at Eastbourne station later that afternoon they were best friends.

The two boys slept in adjoining beds while in junior dormitory, sat next to each other in the classroom, and, when they entered their final year at Glengorse, no one was surprised that they ended up sharing the same study. Although George was better than him at almost everything they tackled, Guy never seemed to resent it. In fact, he appeared to revel in his friend's success, even when George was appointed captain of football and went on to win a scholarship to Winchester. Guy told his father that he wouldn't have been offered a place at Winchester if he hadn't shared a study with George, who never stopped pushing him to try harder.

While Guy was checking the results of the entrance exam posted on the school notice board, George appeared more interested in an announcement that had been pinned below. Mr. Deacon, the chemistry beak, was inviting leavers to join him on a climbing holiday in Scotland. Guy had little interest in climbing, but once George had added his name to the list, Guy scribbled his below it.

George had never been one of Mr. Deacon's favorite pupils, possibly because chemistry was not a subject he excelled in, but as his passion for climbing far outweighed his indifference toward the Bunsen burner or litmus paper, George decided that he would just have to rub along with Mr. Deacon. After all, George confided to Guy, if the damn man went to the trouble of organizing an annual climbing holiday, he couldn't be all bad.

From the moment they set foot in the barren Highlands of Scotland, George was transported into a different world. By day he would stroll through the bracken and heather-covered hills, while at night, with the aid of a candle, he would sit in his tent reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde before reluctantly falling asleep.

Whenever Mr. Deacon approached a new hill, George would loiter at the back of the group and think about the route he had selected. On one or two occasions he went as far as to suggest that they might perhaps consider an alternative route, but Mr. Deacon ignored his proposals, pointing out that he had been taking climbing parties to Scotland for the past eighteen years, and perhaps Mallory might ponder on the value of experience. George fell back in line, and continued to follow his master up the well-trodden paths.

Over supper each evening, when George sampled ginger beer and salmon for the first time, Mr. Deacon would spend some considerable time outlining his plans for the following day.

"Tomorrow," he declared, "we face our most demanding test, but after ten days of climbing in the Highlands I'm confident that you're more than ready for the challenge." A dozen expectant young faces stared up at Mr. Deacon before he continued, "We will attempt to climb the highest mountain in Scotland."

"Ben Nevis," said George. "Four thousand four hundred and nine feet," he added, although he had never seen the mountain.

"Mallory is correct," said Mr. Deacon, clearly irritated by the interruption. "Once we reach the top — what we climbers call the summit, or peak — we will have lunch while you enjoy one of the finest vistas in the British Isles. As we have to be back at camp before the sun sets, and as the descent is always the most difficult part of any climb, everyone will report for breakfast by seven o'clock, so that we can set out at eight on the dot."

Guy promised to wake George at six the following morning, as his friend often overslept and then missed breakfast, which didn't deter Mr. Deacon from keeping to a timetable that resembled a military operation. However, George was so excited by the thought of climbing the highest mountain in Scotland that it was he who woke Guy the next morning. He was among the first to join Mr. Deacon for breakfast, and was waiting impatiently outside his tent long before the party was due to set off.

Mr. Deacon checked his watch. At one minute to eight he set off at a brisk pace down the path that would take them to the base of the mountain.

"Whistle drill!" he shouted after they had covered about a mile. All the boys, except one, took out their whistles and heartily blew the signal that would indicate they were in danger and required assistance. Mr. Deacon was unable to hide a thin-lipped smile when he observed which of his charges had failed to carry out his order. "Am I to presume, Mallory, that you have left your whistle behind?"

"Yes, sir," George replied, annoyed that Mr. Deacon had got the better of him.

"Then you will have to return to camp immediately, retrieve it, and try to catch us up before we begin the ascent."

George wasted no time protesting. He took off in the opposite direction, and once he was back at camp, fell on his hands and knees and crawled into his tent, where he spotted the whistle on top of his sleeping bag. He cursed, grabbed it, and began running back, hoping to catch up with his chums before they started the climb. But by the time he'd reached the foot of the mountain the little crocodile of climbers had already begun their ascent. Guy Bullock, who was acting as "tail-end Charlie," continually looked back, hoping to see his friend. He was relieved when he spotted George running toward them, and waved frantically. George waved back as the group continued their slow progress up the mountain.

"Keep to the path," were the last words he heard Mr. Deacon say as they disappeared around the first bend.

Once they were out of sight, George came to a halt. He stared up at the mountain, which was bathed in a warm haze of misty sunshine. The brightly lit rocks and shaded gullies suggested a hundred different ways to approach the summit, all but one of which were ignored by Mr. Deacon and his faithful troop as they resolutely kept to the guidebook's recommended path.

George's eyes settled on a thin zigzag stretching up the mountain, the dried-up bed of a stream that must have flowed lazily down the mountain for nine months of the year — but not today. He stepped off the path, ignoring the arrows and signposts, and headed toward the base of the mountain. Without a second thought, he leaped up onto the first ridge like a gymnast mounting a high bar and agilely began making his way from foothold to ledge to jutting outcrop, never once hesitating, never once looking down. He only paused for a moment when he came to a large, jagged rock 1,000 feet above the base of the mountain. He studied the terrain for a few moments before he identified a fresh route and set off once again, his foot sometimes settling in a well-trodden hollow, while at other times he pursued a virgin path. He didn't stop again until he was almost halfway up the mountain. He looked at his watch — 9:07. He wondered which signpost Mr. Deacon and the rest of the group had reached.


Excerpted from Paths of Glory by Jeffrey Archer. Copyright © 2009 Jeffrey Archer. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


BOOK ONE: No Ordinary Child,
BOOK TWO: The Other Woman,
BOOK THREE: No Man's Land,
BOOK FOUR: Selecting the Team,
BOOK FIVE: Walking Off the Map,
BOOK SIX: Back to Earth,
BOOK SEVEN: A Woman's Privilege,
BOOK EIGHT: Ascension Day,

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Paths of Glory 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 57 reviews.
CC37 More than 1 year ago
Can't say it's a thriller but once you start it you can't put it down. It's about a man's obsession to climb Mount Everest. At first I thought it was fiction but later found out it was a true story. Have loaned this book to three friends all of whom sat up all night because they couldn't put it down. Jeffrey Archer at his best again!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Most enjoyable book I've read in a long time.
bellan More than 1 year ago
The style is of course as classy and fluent to read as always.
Hannah33 More than 1 year ago
Normally, I much prefer to lose myself in a compelling work of fiction. Since I had read and appreciated some of Archer's other works, I thought I would give this one a chance. I was delighted almost from start to finish. The story recounts, in novel fashion, the life of George Mallory and his attempts to "conquor" Mt. Everest. It allows the reader to really get in to the feel of the character and times. And it revisits the mystery of Mallory's final attempt - did he perish mere feet from the summit? Or was he truly the first person to reach the summit, only to perish on the way down? You decide. . .
JFK More than 1 year ago
Jeffrey Archer normally weaves great tales from the mundane in a clever and thrilling way. While this is a decent read - interesting enough to finish the book - it lacks the originality and plot twists that make most of his other books so fast-paced and fascinating.
suetu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of Jeffrey Archer¿s work. I¿ve been reading him since my childhood in the 70¿s. More than anything else, I¿ve always thought of him as one hell of a story-teller. Some of his novels are stronger than others, but for decades now, I¿ve always come back for more. Therefore, even though I have no particular interest in mountain climbing, I looked forward with anticipation to reading Archer¿s latest, Paths of Glory.Paths of Glory is the story of real-life mountain climber George Lee Mallory and his epic quest to scale Everest. The novel opens with the discovery a decade ago of Mallory¿s frozen body near the summit of Everest, where it had remained since 1937¿never quite answering the mystery of whether he made it to the top. From that beginning, we go back to Mallory¿s early childhood and are treated to a fictional biography of the major events of his life. Family, school, marriage, and the drive to explore are all covered. Additionally, Archer gives the reader one version of what might have happened that day in 1937, and even an epilogue regarding the fates of the other major and minor players.It wasn¿t bad. I didn¿t actively dislike it. But I find myself hard-pressed to recommend the novel. It was a reasonably likable, easy read, but there seemed to be so little of substance ultimately. Really, it felt like one cute story after another, all strung along to illustrate why Mallory was such a generically worthy, likable guy. I can¿t help thinking that there must have been so much more to the man. Nor did Archer do a particularly vivid job of painting the times in which Mr. Mallory lived. If Mallory really was the hero he was painted to be, I think he probably deserved better.I should also mention that I listened to this novel as an unabridged audiobook. The narrator Roger Allam, did a passable job, but wasn¿t particularly strong on accents. In the end, Allam failed where Archer failed¿ They took a true story but never managed to bring it to life.
gauravrekhi1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
There's always something about Archer. But when you combine Archer with a potentially true story and a dream-come-true protagonist, you get Paths of Glory. My entire family lapped up this book, a must-read.
wkelly42 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I decided to read this book because I'd read Jeffrey Archer before, and I'd enjoyed it. I'd never heard of George Mallory before, or his quest to climb Everest. This book proved to be a learning experience.Paths of Glory is the story of George Mallory's life, from childhood to his death on the slopes of Everest. But it's not a biography, or even really biographical fiction. It's the story of George Mallory's obsession with mountaineering, and where it took him.Archer has researched Mallory's life meticulously (and lists Mallory's grandson, George Leigh Mallory II, in the acknowledgments page of the book). After finishing the book, I was interested enough to do some quick research of my own, and while I can find many things that Archer left out, I cannot think of anything that Archer got wrong. Archer seems to want to memorialize Mallory with this book; he is certainly of the opinion that Mallory reached the summit of Everest and was headed down when killed, even as he admits that there is no way to prove one way or the other.Paths of Glory was a gripping read. I think it helped that I wasn't familiar with Mallory prior to reading it, so that I really didn't know what was coming next. I was eager to learn of the fate of each of Mallory's companions, just as I wanted to learn of his wife's reaction to his death. Most of all, as I mentioned, the book made me want to learn more -- a greater compliment I cannot give.
caseylondon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked up this Jeffrey Archer book having no idea of the content but because I like his writing. I had no idea I'd be spending the afternoon reading the story of Englishman and mountaineer George Mallory, who dreamed of being the first to scale Mt. Everest. In the early to mid 1920's he along with other climbers funded by the Royal Geographical Society attempted and perhaps reached the summit (the real mystery is if he did or not.) The story, however, is not so much if he reached the peak but about his love of climbing, his zest for life, his enthusiasm and courage for trying not once but several times in the face of daunting odds, the tug of family ties and his code of honor. It's not about Mallory the climber so much as Mallory the man. Archer does such a wonderful job of making Mallory live in these pages that the reader feels the Englishman¿s passion for admission to Cambridge, his need to stand for Britain in the Great War, and even the cold harsh wind he encounters on Mt. Everest. It is the closest most of us will ever come to scaling a mountain and Archer makes sure we understand the commitment, dedication and sheer joy of the trek. What a way to spend the afternoon. I have absolutely no interest in rock climbing or mountaineering but this book is about finding your talent and doing what you love. Romantics will appreciate the letters he writes to his wife and anyone who appreciates good writing will be pleased with this book.
mckait on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story of George Leigh Mallory, a novel based on history. I had never been drawn to read about Mr Mallory prior to this. I had never read anything by Jeffrey Archer either. For some reason, when given the opportunity to read this book, I enthusiastically took it.The story begins when George Mallory was a child living in his fathers house. His father was a conservative clergyman of limited means who wanted to provide the best possible life for his three children. For George, this included the best education he could manage.From a young age, Gorge showed a lack of fear, and a love of climbing. His father encouraged his sons sense of adventure, even to the point of accompanying him on ever more rigorous climbs, at least accompanying his as best he could. This trust and encouragement surely contributed to the self confident young man George became.During his years at school, he knew that his mountain climbing had to take a backseat to his education, and so it did. TO his satisfaction, there were others who shared his interests, thus enabling him to continue with what brought joy to his life, scaling mountains.I became so invested in the people portrayed in this book, I had a hard time putting it down. I had a vague and passing knowledge of Mallory and his Everest climbs, but nothing more than that. After reading about his life and family, as well as his dreams. I am searching for more information on this clearly incredible man.I strongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good read, or is interested in mountaineering. I will be reading more books by this author very soon, as well as more books about George Mallory and Everest. A book that inspires a new interest is the very best kind of book.
meags222 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is based on a real life man named George Mallory. It is uncertain whether Mallory was the first man to reach the peak of Mnt Everest. They found his body many years later and Archer attempts to piece together his life in a novel. I enjoyed reading this book but at times I found the novel dragged on a bit too much. I have found that either I really love Archer's books or they drag on a bit too much. I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good story. Very good writing. This is one book that is hard to put down! A few places where grammer is incorrect. Used Him rather than his. Me rather than my. Punctuation is excellent.
Judyloan More than 1 year ago
I loved the book. I now think that almost certainly George Mallory was the first to stand on the top of Everest. Too bad there's no definitive proof. Judyloan
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I found a hard copy of this book at work and it caught my attention. I was a great read! The way Mr. Archer writes was spectacular and refreshing to me. I felt like I was the with George  Mallory climbing Mt Everest.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing story of one man's obsession with climbing Mt Everest, no matter what the personal loss. As always with Archer's books, you can't stop reading until the end. Wonderful!!!
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The Love Story and the history transcends the decades; it was suspensfull, movings and importantly it was accurate.
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