A Mountain in Tibet – Charles Allen

A Mountain in Tibet - Charles Allen
A Mountain in Tibet – Charles Allen

Charles Allen‘s superb history of the explorations in India, Nepal and Tibet in search of the source of the four holy rivers – Brahmaputra, Ganges, Indus and Sutlej – and the water flows between the lakes of Rakshas Tal and Manasarovar and beyond, lying at the feet of mythic Mt Kailash. It’s mainly Europeans, but old friend Ekai Kawaguchi makes an appearance too.

Should have read it before my own exploration, courtesy of Wild Frontiers back in 2010, to appreciate that history, that of the ancient kingdom of Guge and its capital Tsaparang.

Publisher page: A Mountain in Tibet: The Search for Mount Kailas and the Sources of the Great Rivers of India – Charles Allen

Looking out over the ruins, and east along the Sutlej river valley, from the top of Tsaparang citadel, Guge, Tibet
Looking out over the ruins, and east along the Sutlej river valley, from the top of Tsaparang citadel, Guge, Tibet

 

High Albania – Edith Durham

High Albania - Edith Durham
High Albania – Edith Durham

Edith Durham  (1863 – 1944) was an English artist, anthropologist/ethnologist and writer who travelled and worked in Albania between 1900 and 1914. One of those intrepid Victorian/Edwardian female explorers, High Albania is her account of her travels in Northern Albania in 1908, the time of the Young Turks and the end of the Ottoman Empire.

Lots of late nights, early mornings, conversations with Albanians and Franciscans, blood feuds, besa and firing of pistols.

A perfect read before, during and after our week walking in the Accursed Mountains.

Abebooks.co.uk: High Albania – Edith Durham

Goodreads review: High Albania – Edith Durham

Tibet, Tibet – Patrick French

Tibet, Tibet - Patrick French
Tibet, Tibet – Patrick French

Supremely readable analysis of Tibet’s history and place in the modern world, covering its relationships with China and the rest of the world (past and present – including the British invasion under Younghusband), and Patrick French‘s own exploration of the country and encounters with the people and the politics of Tibet in 1999.

On his return, he resigned his position as director of the Free Tibet Campaign.

Publisher’s webpage: Tibet, Tibet: A Personal History of a Lost Land – Patrick French

Martha Gellhorn: A Life – Caroline Moorehead

Martha Gellhorn: A Life - Caroline Moorehead
Martha Gellhorn: A Life – Caroline Moorehead

It took me a while to read my way through Caroline Moorehead’s biography of  journalist, traveller and writer, Martha Gellhorn. Lots of detail to explore in an eventful life spanning almost 9 decades, ending in her suicide in 1998.

Always trying to share the impact of significant events on ordinary people, Martha Gellhorn wrote about the Great Depression in her home country of America, the Spanish Civil War, World War II, the Vietnam War, and much more.

Her own life was similarly eventful, living and travelling all around the globe, making friends (and losing them again) across continents.

Publisher’s page: Martha Gellhorn: A Life – Caroline Moorehead

Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey – Rachel Hewitt

Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey - Rachel Hewitt
Map of a Nation – Rachel Hewitt

A history of the Ordnance Survey and the men behind the maps. Sounds dry? It’s fascinating.

We start with unruly Jacobite Scotland, head south to the Enlightenment lowlands, journey around Kent, connect up with France, stretch up to Shetland, collect place name data in Ireland and – eventually – five lifetimes in – publish the last sheet of the first full map of the British Isles.

Publisher page: Map of a Nation: A Biography of the Ordnance Survey – Rachel Hewitt