“History has not been kind to Himalaya,” writes historian and travel writer John Keay in his latest book Himalaya: Exploring the Roof of the World (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2022). The region, nestled between India, China and Central Asia, has long been subject to political and imperial intrigue–and at times violent invasion. But the region also provided a wealth of scientific information, like geographers puzzling over how these tall peaks were thrust upwards by plate tectonics. And, of course, it’s the home to a Tibetan culture and people that has been present for centuries
That’s all from Keay’s latest book, which collects years of detail on history, geography, and culture, in one volume.
John Keay has been writing about Himalaya and traveling there since the 1960s. He wrote the two-volume Explorers of the Western Himalayas (John Murray: 1977, 1979) and wrote and presented a major BBC R3 documentary series on the Himalayan kingdom; other works include India: A History (Grove Press: 2000) and China: A History (HarperCollins: 2008).
In this interview, John and I talk about just a few details from his book: the Younghusband Expedition, plate tectonics, and local legends like the “Ogress of the Rocks”
You can find more reviews, excerpts, interviews, and essays at The Asian Review of Books, including its review of Himalaya. Follow on Twitter at @BookReviewsAsia.
Nicholas Gordon is an associate editor for a global magazine, and a reviewer for the Asian Review of Books. He can be found on Twitter at@nickrigordon.
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