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

Space Below My Feet – Gwen Moffat

Space Below My Feet - Gwen Moffat
Space Below My Feet – Gwen Moffat

I’m afraid I abandoned this autobiography, and I’m rather ashamed to admit that.

I feel that I ought to have relished reading about the life and achievements of Gwen Moffat (still going strong at 93), who made a living from climbing and writing from the 1940s onwards, becoming the first female British mountain guide in 1953, and wrangling marriage and motherhood alongside it all.

But I gave up after Boats and Babies.

Publisher page: Space Below My Feet – Gwen Moffatt

Gwen Moffat // Interview with Emily Pitts. Published on Women Climb, 10 January 2014

Give Me Space Below My Feet: Is it possible to take the legendary climber 93-year-old Gwen Moffat back up into the mountains? Broadcast on BBC Radio 3 “Between the Ears” on 30 September 2017

The Great Arc – John Keay

The Great Arc - John Keay
The Great Arc – John Keay

The Great Trigonometrical Survey of India saw 19th scientific progress and British Imperialism traversing the sub continent hand in hand.

Highly readable history.

Publisher page: The Great Arc – John Keay

I saw one of the charts in October at The Science Museum’s Illuminating India – 5000 Years of Science and Innovation exhibition:

Mapping India with Maths - The Great Trigonometric Survey - The Science Museum
Mapping India with Maths – The Great Trigonometric Survey – The Science Museum