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To the Last Breath

To the Last Breath

A Memoir of Going to Extremes

In 1997, a Georgetown University physics professor set out to scale the highest peak of every continent and surf every ocean. Over the next 12 years, every escape from death brought him closer to life.
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  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439198964 | 
  • May 2013
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Francis Slakey on Fitness

Being so adventurous takes the proper fitness. Francis Slakey tells how he knows he's ready for his next physical challenge.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1


I am out of balance. I hang dangerously off center but I’m oblivious, until some dim awareness of the world shakes me awake.

I lift my head up slightly and look toward my feet. Sure enough, I’m not flat. My body is sloping downward and I can barely see the tips of my toes in the faint moonlight. This wouldn’t be anything to worry about if it weren’t for the fact that I’m on a cot pinned to a sheer granite wall two thousand feet above the valley floor.

My shifting around was enough to wake my climbing partner, Tom Paxton. Pax is lean, but with a... see more

About the Author

Francis Slakey
Photograph by Matt Girard

Francis Slakey

Francis Slakey is the Upjohn Lecturer on Physics and Public Policy at Georgetown University and an Associate Director of Public Affairs at the American Physical Society, where his focus is the intersection of science and society. The founder and co-director of the Program on Science in the Public Interest, a Lemelson Associate of the Smithsonian Institution, and a MacArthur Scholar, Dr. Slakey has been featured by NPR, National Geographic, and others, and his writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Slate, and Scientific American.




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