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'.
From all around the globe, 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 challenging peaks. But far from being wild and barren, the Himalaya has throughout the ages been home to an astonishing diversity of indigenous and local cultures, as well as a crossroads for trade, and a meeting point and conflict zone for the world's superpowers. Here Jesuit missionaries exchanged technologies with Tibetan Lamas, Mongol Khans employed Nepali craftsmen, Armenian merchants exchanged musk and gold with Mughals. Here too the East India Company grappled for dominance with China's emperors, independent India has been locked in conflict with Mao's Communists and their successors, and the ideological confrontation of the Cold War is now being buried beneath mass tourism and ecological transformation.
Featuring scholars and tyrants, bandits and CIA agents, go-betweens and revolutionaries, Himalaya is a panoramic, character-driven history on the grandest but also the most human scale, by far the most comprehensive yet written, encompassing geology and genetics, botany and art, and bursting with stories of courage and resourcefulness.
Ed Douglas is an award-winning writer who has reported from the Himalaya for over twenty-five years, covering the Maoist insurgency in Nepal and the Tibetan occupation. The author of a dozen books, including a biography of Tenzing Norgay, he is also a climber with first ascents in the Himalaya and edits the Alpine Journal. He lives in Sheffield.
"Magnificent [...] a far-reaching, compendious and elegantly turned examination of a region and its peoples, this book is unlikely to be surpassed"
"A magisterial account of the complex human history of the greatest mountains on Earth [...] fascinating [... ]scrupulously and movingly detail[ed] [...] Douglas weaves a far richer tapestry, showing how this is a sacred landscape influenced by very worldly concerns"
– The Times
"A panoramic history of the region [...] Such a complex range of subjects is not easy to press into a coherent narrative [...] Douglas [...] does so with extraordinary aplomb [...] rigorous and informative [...] highly readable [...] never lacking freshness and rich in compelling detail"
– Literary Review
"A scholarly yet entertaining synthesis of hundreds of years of history [...] [Douglas] portrays not only nuns and monks but also courtesans, mountaineers, kings, horse-traders, tea merchants, spies, architects, botanists, soldiers and politicians from Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Sikkim, China and India – as well as from Britain, the British Raj, American, Russia and continental Europe [...] a labour of love twenty-five years in the making"
– Financial Times
"In the suitably immense Himalaya, Ed Douglas logs the achievements and travails from Paleolithic times to the present day of the peoples who have laboured in and around Asia's mountain spine [...] enlivening Himalaya's history with a host of minor characters [...] Such unsung endeavours are a delight [...] The research is impressive [...] always authoritative [...] Anyone with a serious interest in the Himalayan region will want to buy it and will find it invaluable"
– Times Literary Supplement