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Himalaya: A Human History

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  39 ratings  ·  12 reviews
This is the first major history of the Himalaya: an epic story of peoples, cultures and adventures among the world’s highest mountains.

Spanning millennia, from its earliest inhabitants to the present conflicts over Tibet and Everest, Himalaya is a soaring account of resilience and conquest, discovery and plunder, oppression and enlightenment at the ‘roof of the world’.

Hardcover, 592 pages
Published August 27th 2020 by Bodley Head
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Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Having had a keen interest in natural history and enjoyed plenty of books before this on the Himalaya I was slightly sceptical regarding the bold claim that this book is "by far the most comprehensive yet written" about the area, its culture and its people. For many years, the unique and astonishing geography of the Himalaya has attracted those in search of spiritual and literal elevation: pilgrims, adventurers, and mountaineers seeking to test themselves among the world’s most spectacular and c ...more
Jul 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs
This is a bold and ambitious book which aims to chronicle the history of the Himalayas.

It is really impressively written and thoroughly well-researched with many interesting anecdotes, stories and legends to be found throughout. If you are fascinated by the Himalaya or have an interest in its history, this book is the perfect guide.

Alhough I tried however, I I found it diifficult to become fully immersed in this book. That's not to say it wasn't brilliant and impressive, it just never really ca
I admit I feel like I've climbed Everest finishing this tome. It is an Everest in its own right, steeped (yes, that choice of verb is no accident) with facts and details that often made me leave the book at rest for a few days before gathering the mindset to pick it up again. (I've read four books in the breaks I needed reading Himalaya).

But with that warning, I have to admit that it is not only excellent but in a class of its own, and a book that clearly deserves more than one reading. I consid
Whew! I knew I was cutting it close, but didn't realize how close. About 45 minutes after finishing it, I got a notice from my public library that my digital loan had ended.

I did ultimately enjoy this book, but it was a bit of a slog for me.

Things I liked - learning about some of the key characters involved in the political, religious, mountaineering and natural history of the Himalaya. The author, who has a mountaineering background, clearly loves this aspect of the regions, and really, his ent
Stephen King
Nov 24, 2020 rated it liked it
This is excellent in parts and sheds a welcome light on a much underserved region - its history, religion and culture and its geopolitical importance. However, unless you’re a devotee or student of Nepali history, it can be dense and turgid.
Aug 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
The rating I have given this book should in no way diminish the writing (5 stars) or the (obviously) huge amount of research that the author has done to provide readers with an incredible history. My problem (and, yes, it is MY problem) is that the scope is just too big. There is just so much information that the over-all feeling from this book is one of being overwhelmed. Sorry.

My thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for an advance copy to review. This review is entirely my own, unbi
Sep 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
(Note: I received an advanced reader copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley)

Nearly as epic as the Himalayan mountains themselves, Ed Douglas’s Himalaya: A Human History” takes readers into a region that is far, far, far from the widely held misconceptions of a land has long closed off and isolated from the rest of the world and sparsely filled with little more than scattered monks and other assorted holy men. What is shown here in this in-depth historical exploration is the true “roof of the wo
Feb 21, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An incoherent history

A disappointing read about a fascinating topic. The author skips from a a bird’s eye view to anecdotes about individuals with dizzying and disorienting speed. He talks of the importance of Buddhism with little or no explanation of its meaning or how it has influenced the history of the region beyond the mere assertion that it has. He is best in his history of mountaineering which is clearly his passion - a book focussed just on that subject would have been a far better subje
Kathleen Gray
Dec 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An amazing book with an impressive scope that neither panders to or speaks over those with little in-depth knowledge of the region. Douglas has a good journalist style that pulls the reader in and educates as well as sparks the imagination. I'd recommend reading this in had copy vice ebook- it's a BIG book. It would also be easier to flip back and forth to check data points, who's who etc. Almost unbelievably given how , I still found myself going down the google hole to follow up on certain thi ...more
Jan 13, 2021 rated it liked it
At times gripping--he's best at his expertise in mountaineering and how this attracted pioneering climbers to the "abode of snow"--but often overwhelmingly pedestrian and flat-footed. Gets bogged down in details of dynasties and battles and diplomacy that although germane to the subject at large, feel secondhand retreads of scholarship. He should have focused on the mountaineers themselves... ...more
Bob Peru
Jan 15, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
if you’re only going to read one book on himalayan history, this is the one.

admittedly not original research nevertheless a well written synthesis of other’s research.
Igor Zurimendi
The book is about not a rigorous full history of the Himalaya, but more a succession of events the author finds interesting to write about: plenty of mountaineering detail, but no detail on Buddhist theology. Unfortunately I don't share the author's interests. ...more
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Ed Douglas is a writer and journalist with a passion for the wilder corners of the natural world. A former editor of the Alpine Journal, a columnist for Climber and The Guardian, Ed is an enthusiastic amateur climber and mountain traveller, with a particular interest in the Himalaya

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