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Book Review: Murder In The High Himalaya

July 18, 2010

“Murder In The High Himalaya”
by Jonathan Green
Published by Public Affairs Books

“We all felt that we had to get our people out of there as soon as we could because this could get uglier,” said one expedition leader. “The feeling was that we were being watched, and now that people were talking about it in base camp, it was very uncomfortable”

We’ve all seen the video by now of the CCP straight up shooting at a line of Tibetans on the Nangpa La pass from Tibet to Nepal, if not click the links but be warned you will see people being shot to death.

“Murder In The High Himalaya” is the story of that cold, dark day in the mountains of Tibet. Not only from the perspective of the Tibetans who managed to escape, but from the climbing expeditions climbing the Himalayas that day.

Jonathan Green’s skill at story telling brings us right into the moment of each character. From the monks and nuns planning the escape days before, to the “rock star” mountain climbers who are gearing up for another expedition with open pockets.

By now we all know the horrors the Tibetans have faced under the iron grip of the Chinese government, but after reading this book it felt like things got personal for me. I really felt the frenzy and discomfort the people inside Tibet feel, especially as they are trying to escape. It’s amazing anyone can get out nowadays. “Murder In The High Himalaya” is truly compelling and you will have a very hard time putting it down.

What I also liked about the book was the additional story, running concurrently until the event takes place. We are brought into a world I’m sure many of us know little about, and that is the ins and outs of expedition climbing in the Himalayas. I didn’t realize half the mess they had to go through to get proper paperwork, the palms they needed to grease to get on certain mountains, etc. Like any other “sport” there are plenty of shady characters involved, those who will outdo the next guy just for the fame and fortune. I learned quite a bit from this book about expeditionary tactics, not all completely bad though.

What is truly amazing about this book is the transformation of the egotistical expedition leaders. They go from the “top of the world” to feeling a sense of fear they have never known. They were the one’s telling the story from inside Tibet, knowing full well their very lives were on the line if the CCP knew who they were. Without their cameras and words via the internet, this story could have easily been swept under the rug as so many other incidents in Tibet are.

For anyone concerned about the Tibetan issue, or for a better understanding of the constant struggle I highly recommend picking this book up. I not only had a pain in my heart for the people involved, but at times was sick to my stomach knowing there is little we can do to make it better. Please pick up this book, I’m sure you will come away with at least a little more compassion, and hopefully we can engage in a chat about what you thought of the book.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. SERGIU MATEI permalink
    July 22, 2010 1:49 pm

    What can I tell you about this book is that it feels very accurate in terms of details , details that myself I hadn’t know until I have read Jonathan’s collection of details about the whole picture.
    It looks like a puzzle of feelings and crooked attitude on the behalf of the climbing industry and off human nature in the places where many climbers think they are Gods in those places ,and all of a sudden they are in a cowardly position of a little headless chicken .
    Myself I’ve stopped climbing since that 2006 and I do not intend to go back there and encourage the slaughter off human beings by paying taxes to step on rocks !
    While i was reading the book apart by the time I’ve filmed everything, in the book all the other details just merged into that momment extraordinarily and leaved me pretty much speachless again 3 years after the whole event filled the lens of my camera and emptyed my soul!

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