An Epic History of Life Among the World’s Highest Mountains
The mountains of the Himalaya, prised up by tectonic plates, emerged from the ocean ahead of any other land mass on our planet and are therefore not only the highest, but also the oldest in the world. No wonder then that the human stories to subsequently be written upon this landscape should be so unique, so extraordinary and so often full of remarkable bravery and endeavour. Ed Douglas, the author of Himalaya: A Human History has entwined these stories together in what will surely come to be regarded as the definitive account of this region. It is certainly difficult to see how it might be improved. The book is dense, detailed and written with wit, wisdom and deep knowledge undoubtedly acquired to large extent through the author’s years editing the Alpine Journal. A mountaineer as well as an exceptional journalist, Douglas brings together tales of cultures, trading, adventures, myths, arts, religions.. but also sciences such as geology, genetics and botany, which all feature in the tapestry of the Himalaya. This writer has mastered the art of opening a chapter with a modern day scenario or incident - often outside Asia - only to skilfully escort you back through time in order to find its roots in the region. His eye for connectivity, for threading history, is what allows the reader to relate to such a distant and perhaps alien place that has nevertheless across the centuries embedded itself in all our minds on the strength of its majesty and mystery. At the centre of the Himalaya is of course Nepal, and above it the Tibetan plateau, which together separate China from India. This fragile geo-political position, combined with the challenges provided by altitude, are what makes the future of the area such a concern and the consequences of climate change will fall heavily here, and indeed already are. Himalaya: A Human History is an impressive work and an epic love letter to an unequalled place which deserves to feel the embrace of the whole world.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2020 DUFF COOPER PRIZE
An epic story of peoples, cultures and adventures among the world's highest mountains: here Jesuit missionaries exchanged technologies with Tibetan Lamas, Mongol Khans employed Nepali craftsmen, Armenian merchants exchanged musk and gold with Mughals.
Featuring scholars and tyrants, bandits and CIA agents, go-betweens and revolutionaries, Himalaya is a panoramic, character-driven history on the grandest but also the most human scale, by far the most comprehensive yet written, encompassing geology and genetics, botany and art, and bursting with stories of courage and resourcefulness.
|Publication date:||15th July 2021|
|Publisher:||Vintage an imprint of Vintage Publishing|
Magnificent ... a far-reaching, compendious and elegantly turned examination of a region and its peoples, this book is unlikely to be surpassed - Telegraph
A magisterial account of the complex human history of the greatest mountains on Earth ... fascinating ... scrupulously and movingly detail[ed] ... Douglas weaves a far richer tapestry, showing how this is a sacred landscape influenced by very worldly concerns - The Times
A panoramic history of the region ... Such a complex range of subjects is not easy to press into a coherent narrative ... Douglas ... does so with extraordinary aplomb ... rigorous and informative ... highly readable ... never lacking freshness and rich in compelling detail - Literary Review
A scholarly yet entertaining synthesis of hundreds of years of history ... [Douglas] portrays not only nuns and monks but also courtesans, mountaineers, kings, horse-traders, tea merchants, spies, architects, botanists, soldiers and politicians from Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Sikkim, China and India - as well as from Britain, the British Raj, American, Russia and continental Europe ... a labour of love twenty-five years in the making - Financial Times
In the suitably immense Himalaya, Ed Douglas logs the achievements and travails from Paleolithic times to the present day of the peoples who have laboured in and around Asia's mountain spine ... enlivening Himalaya's history with a host of minor characters ... Such unsung endeavours are a delight ... The research is impressive ... always authoritative ... Anyone with a serious interest in the Himalayan region will want to buy it and will find it invaluable - Times Literary Supplement