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The author, Reinhold Messner, is at the center of this book although he willingly shares the stage with Mount Everest. Above all else, Messner comes across as a driven man. He admits that even he does not fully understand why or how he manages to persevere in the face of exhaustion and fear. He does not portray himself as heroic, going so far as to describe himself at one point as timid, yet he also recognizes he has a drive to conquer mountains that is so unremitting, it is rarely found even in other mountaineers.