FEAR by Sir Ranulph Fiennes

  • Written by  Jules Stewart
  • Published in Books
FEAR by Sir Ranulph Fiennes
26 Jan
Panic, Fiennes tells us, is to be avoided at all costs. On the other hand, fear is a welcome mechanism that enables the body and brain to work at their best

In his latest book, which deals largely with the experiences of ‘the world’s greatest living explorer’, Fiennes takes the reader through situations that have made him anxious, at times nervous, and on occasion ‘scared stiff’.

One might assume that fear is unknown to a former SAS officer who has led more than 30 expeditions to the world’s most inhospitable corners and has climbed Everest. Not so. Fiennes has suffered from some very basic human phobias, such as falling from heights and spiders. In this book, he puts forth numerous, highly readable accounts of how he has confronted these fears. Some, like vertigo, were tackled with extreme measures: for instance, climbing the North Face of the Eiger. ‘I knew that I had failed to shake off the curse of vertigo, but facing up to it, thinking [others] did it and survived,’ writes Fiennes, enabled him to meet the challenge of Everest.

Fiennes’s arachnophobia puts a different twist on overcoming fear. While manning a machine-gun post in Oman, a hideous-looking wolf spider hopped onto his bare ankle. His immediate reaction was to scream and smash his fist down on the monster. Instead, he forced his jaw into a grin and brushed the spider off his leg. None of his fellow soldiers had exhibited fear of spiders, hence, ‘My dread of losing respect managed to trump my lifelong spider phobia and served to break the spell for good.’

Fiennes is thankful for having known fear for, he says, through the successful control of the mind, using fear rather than letting it imprison us, offers the best chance of winning the battle and achieving happiness.

Click here to purchase Fear by Sir Ranulph Fiennes


Share this story...

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe Today


Aberystwyth UniversityUniversity of GreenwichThe University of Winchester




Travel the Unknown


Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • The Air That We Breathe
    Cities the world over are struggling to improve air quality as scandals surrounding diesel car emissions come to light and the huge health costs of po...
    Diabetes: The World at Risk
    Diabetes is often thought of as a ‘western’ problem, one linked to the developed world’s overindulgence in fatty foods and chronic lack of physi...
    National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    The Nuclear Power Struggle
    The UK appears to be embracing nuclear, a huge U-turn on government policy from just two years ago. Yet this seems to be going against the grain globa...
    When the wind blows
    With 1,200 wind turbines due to be built in the UK this year, Mark Rowe explores the continuing controversy surrounding wind power and discusses the e...


NEVER MISS A STORY - follow Geographical

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...


An emotional and divisive documentary that explores the trophy hunting…


by Paul Murton • Birlinn • £14.99 (softback)


by Harry Hook • HIP Editions • £54 (hardback)


by James Suzman • Bloomsbury • £18.99 (hardback)


by Thorkild Hansen • New York Review Books • £11.99…


by David Bellamy • Search Press • £25 (hardback)


by Michael Bristow • Sandstone Press • £8.99 (paperback)


Oslo makes complex geopolitics a living, breathing spectacle


New blockbuster takes climate chaos to the extreme, where what…


Prestigious Natural History Museum photography competition recognises Brent Stirton's capturing…


An inveterate armchair traveller ever since my Soviet childhood, I…


Bonnett’s previous book, Off the Map, was a thoroughly readable…


When Wilkinson set off to become the Telegraph’s Islamabad correspondent…


Dartmoor National Park might appear wild, but it’s the lines…


Barry Smith is a self-confessed islomaniac and a fixation with…


Neoliberalism. The word seems to have lost all meaning. According…


Combining a treasure trove of unseen footage set to music…


The dreadful pandemic of 1918, writes Laura Spinney, ‘engulfed the…


Those of us who enjoy good travel writing know that…