Firstly, I would like to say that reading autobiographies in not something I usually do. I think the last one I read was about six years ago and I’ve never really had the urge to read one again. For me, I think this is because most autobiographies you see on your average book shop shelf are written by ‘celebrities’ who became famous in a TV reality show and whose life before was just a normal day-to-day life (and not worth £12.99 to read about). Also these ‘celebrities’ seem to publish two or three sequels to their autobiographies which I think is a way for them just to make more money on something that they probably didn’t write anyway! However when I saw Bear Grylls’ autobiography on the shelf I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve always been a massive fan of his show Born Survivor: Bear Grylls and from the show I know that he was an ex SAS soldier, a karate specialist, the chief of the Scouting movement and one of the youngest people ever to climb Mount Everest. These things intrigued me and I wanted to know how one person could fit so much into their life, so I decided to give the autobiography a go.
To be fair to the autobiography, it gives you a great view into the life of someone who has achieved many amazing things. It is well written, Grylls does an excellent job of portraying his feelings and doubts through some of the hardest tasks in his life such as the SAS selection and his climb up Everest. Grylls also shows a side of himself that is not portrayed through the TV cameras. This is his faith in Christianity and the way this has helped fuel him when he was at the end of his endurance. Another aspect the book portrays which the shows do not is the amount of self-doubt Grylls has. When you watch the show you get this persona of someone with unlimited confidence and fearlessness, whereas in the book Grylls tells of how he doubts himself because of his less than average physical build and his less than average school qualifications. For me it is amazing to see the difference between the Bear Grylls of the show and the Bear Grylls of the book.
However some aspects of this book were a let-down for me. As I said above, I knew that Grylls had been in the SAS and I have watched his TV series from the very beginning. When I picked up this book I thought it would be more about his time in the SAS and that he would uncover some of the stories from the missions he had been on. But what I didn’t realise is that the SAS are sworn to secrecy on their missions, operations and training so Bear could not tell much about his time in the SAS, apart from bits about his selection. I also thought there would be more stories from his time filming his TV shows. However again I was disappointed as there is not much written about these either. But more focus is spent on Bear’s childhood and his relationship with his family. For me this was great because it shows how Bear got into climbing and the influence his father had on his life.
Overall though, this was a good book. For me it created a rounder picture of who Bear Grylls is. He is not just a survival expert but a family man, with his own fears and doubts just like everyone else. I would suggest this book to anyone who watches his TV shows as the Bear Grylls on the screen is a different person to the Bear in the book.
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