When Men And Mountains Meet – John Keay

When Men And Mountains Meet - John Keay
When Men And Mountains Meet – John Keay

The subtitle says it all “Exploration of the Western Himalayas, 1820-1875”.

Slow to start, the later chapters – from Gardiner onwards – were a speedier read.

Lots of looking at the handy maps at the start of the book, and cross referencing with my Hindu Kush Adventure, Central Asia Overland, Himalayan Journey from Lhasa to Kashgar and Autumn in Ladakh trips.

Part of what makes this a fascinating period of history is that, as John Keay concludes, none of these explorations would feasible today given the borders and accompanying tensions between India, Pakistan and China. I’d love to be able to trek from Leh to Yarkand…..

AbeBooks page: When Men And Mountains Meet – John Keay

Barrow’s Boys – Fergus Fleming

Barrow's Boys - Fergus Fleming
Barrow’s Boys – Fergus Fleming

If you can ignore the very bloke-ish blurb on the covers and the fact that Fergus Fleming is Ian Fleming’s nephew, this is a thorough set of biographical snippets on an Arctic, Antarctic and Saharan explorer theme. After all, what is a desert but a hot dry version of the icebound wastes at the poles.

I still delight in the fact that one of the earlier and most astute explorers was William Scoresby. For a long time I’d assumed Philip Pullman had made up the name Lee Scoresby. Perhaps he did – although I doubt it – but I like the idea that aëronaut explorer Lee and and arctic explorer William share a surname and a sense of decency.

Back to the book – worth a read if you’re interested in 19th Century English Explorers.

Publisher page: Barrow’s Boys – Fergus Fleming

Magic & Mystery in Tibet – Alexandra David-Neel

Magic & Mystery in Tibet - Alexandra David-Neel
Magic & Mystery in Tibet – Alexandra David-Neel

I gave up on Alexandra David-Neel’s account of her exploration – philosophical and physical – of Tibetan Buddhism in the early 20th Century.

The writing style’s so dated it’s difficult to discern what’s accurate and what’s orientalist interpretation.

Abebooks page: Magic & Mystery in Tibet – Alexandra David-Neel