cover image Mud, Sweat, and Tears: 
The Autobiography

Mud, Sweat, and Tears: The Autobiography

Bear Grylls. Morrow, $26.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-06-212419-7

Grylls has gained a huge audience of fans over seven seasons as star of the Discovery Channel’s Man vs. Wild program, with each episode featuring Grylls living by his wits in dangerous situations in the wild. Already a bestseller in the U.K., this fascinating if irritatingly upbeat memoir of his pre-television life would have been expected to be a hit in the U.S.—except that the show was canceled in March after Grylls was fired for reported contract differences. Nevertheless, his fans may still be interested in learning what made Grylls an adventurer: “the early, bigger missions that shaped me, and the even earlier, smaller moments that steered me.” He begins with some childhood and teenage adventures that make him realize that he “simply loved adventure.” But the bulk of the book describes in detail Grylls’s two most formative experiences: training for and mastering the brutal selection process to join the elite Special Air Services (SAS) unit of the British Special Forces, and his attempts and eventual success in climbing Mt. Everest. Although Grylls’s adventures are fascinating and carefully detailed, the problem with this memoir is that it is written in a basic, one-sentence-per-paragraph style, which may inspire younger readers (“I knew that nothing good in life ever came from quitting”), but which makes Grylls sound far more one-dimensional than he appears to be on his show. (June)