Himalaya: A Human History

Himalaya: A Human History

by Ed Douglas


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A magisterial history of the Himalaya: an epic story of peoples, cultures, and adventures among the world’s highest mountains.

For centuries, the unique and astonishing geography of the Himalaya has attracted those in search of spiritual and literal elevation: pilgrims, adventurers, and mountaineers seeking to test themselves among the world’s most spectacular and challenging peaks. But far from being wild and barren, the Himalaya has been home to a diversity of indigenous and local cultures, a crucible of world religions, a crossroads for trade, and a meeting point and conflict zone for empires past and present. In this landmark work, nearly two decades in the making, Ed Douglas makes a thrilling case for the Himalaya’s importance in global history and offers a soaring account of life at the "roof of the world."

Spanning millennia, from the earliest inhabitants to the present conflicts over Tibet and Everest, Himalaya explores history, culture, climate, geography, and politics. Douglas profiles the great kings of Kathmandu and Nepal; he describes the architects who built the towering white Stupas that distinguish Himalayan architecture; and he traces the flourishing evolution of Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism that brought Himalayan spirituality to the world. He also depicts with great drama the story of how the East India Company grappled for dominance with China’s emperors, how India fought Mao’s Communists, and how mass tourism and ecological transformation are obscuring the bloody legacy of the Cold War.

Himalaya is history written on the grandest yet also the most human scale—encompassing geology and genetics, botany and art, and bursting with stories of courage and resourcefulness.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393541991
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 01/05/2021
Pages: 592
Sales rank: 23,840
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Ed Douglas is an award-winning writer with a passion for the Himalaya. The author of a dozen books, including a biography of Tenzing Norgay, he has reported from the region for more than twenty-five years, covering the Maoist insurgency in Nepal and the Tibetan occupation. He lives in Yorkshire, England.

Table of Contents

List of Maps ix

1 Pilgrims 1

2 Origins 19

3 The First Explorers 32

4 Lost Kingdoms 58

5 The Architects of Xanadu 80

6 The Rise of Gorkha 106

7 The High Road to Tibet 126

8 Trade Wars 151

9 The Hard Road to Sagauli 175

10 Mapping the Himalaya 201

11 The Tyrant and the Scholar 227

12 Crossing Borders 261

13 'Forbidden' City 290

14 The Plant Hunters 320

15 The First Mountaineers 349

16 Everest Diplomacy 371

17 Utopias 409

18 Summit Fever 440

19 Songs from a Dark Cell 472

20 Claiming Chomolungma 500

Acknowledgements 527

A Note on Sources 529

Bibliography 532

Index 551

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