Incredible derring-do in jungle, mountain, desert, and anywhere else that danger lurks, by a British soldier and adventurer. ""I heard Merv scream a warning, but it came too late. A chunk of ice whistled through the tent in front of my face and the whole world went crazy."" So begins this breathless book that never flags. As a kid, Stokes stole cars, climbed chimney stacks, robbed a supermarket. A bit older, he joined the army, boozing and brawling his way through Cyprus, Hong Kong, Borneo. Finally this paramour of peril hooked up with the SAS, a British military trouble-shooting unit. leading to encounters with leeches, maggots, and giant snakes in British Guiana, with murderous drug-pushers in Jamaica. After more blood and guts--including being shot--while training bodyguards for the Sultan of Oman, Stokes became a mountaineer. In his new incarnation, he battled avalanches, bitter cold, and the loss of all his toes (he describes graphically how one frostbitten appendage fell off at a party, only to be gobbled up by a dog) while climbing many of the Himalayas' major peaks, including Everest. In the last few years, Stokes has worked on paramilitary operations in Ireland and Argentina (including the rescue of the first British plane to be skyjacked). The bully-bully continues as the book goes to press--Stokes now plans an assault on the unclimbed North-East Ridge of Everest. A bit thick in the stiff-upper-lip, bloody-good-sport department (""I knew I was going to get on with this bloke; he looked you straight in the eye when he spoke""), and decidedly crude throughout. In other words, a lower-brow variation on Ranulph Fiennes' 1988 real-life thriller, Living Dangerously, but also a fuel-injected page-turner in its own right.