When men and mountains meet : the explorers of the Western Himalayas 1820-75

by John Keay

Hardcover, 1977




London : J. Murray, c1977.


The majestic and sublime Himalayas have long exerted a powerful force on the imaginations of explorers and travelers. Indeed, as a challenge for these adventurous souls, the mountain wilderness that separates the Indian subcontinent from Inner Asia is unique: no similar region has ever aroused such intense interest. When Men and Mountains Meet, a book based largely on out-of-print and archival material, is the first narrative account of the early exploration of this incomparable part of the world. The difficulty of exploration was not only natural (though the terrain, of course, is the most formidable on earth), but man-made as well: the Himalayas, then as now, are strategic and political boundaries of great importance. Consequently, independent travelers were discouraged from expeditions, while official travelers operated behind a dense screen of secrecy. Yet despite these obstacles, between 1820 and 1875 the Western Himalayas were explored by a number of extraordinary characters. In these pages we meet some of the most intrepid explorers of all time: the American adventurer Alexander Gardiner; Joseph Wolff, who earned the sobriquet of "mad missionary"; Thomas Thomson the Scottish naturalist; Moorcroft, whose exploits have since become legendary in the region; and the dogged surveyor Godwin. All fully lived up to their magnificent setting, and all are once again brought to life in this compelling saga of humankind versus nature.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member RajivC
This is quite the marvellous book. I did not know about this until I picked it up recently, and it is quite an unknown gem. The tales of the early explorers is quite stirring indeed.
He has a knack of pulling out the stories of unknown people; people who have lived stirring lives and bringing them
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back to life.
While the Himalayas may seem to be much more explored nowadays, than before, they are quite the magnificent creations of Nature, and the earlier explorers seem to have treated them with more respect than we do nowadays.
The tales seem romantic, in a way. And, maybe this is good. Many of us fear to go where these men went, and I have to say that the Western world's discovery of the Himalayas does make for a great story.
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LibraryThing member DramMan
An account of the various, characters, eccentrics and imperial servants who travelled, surveyed, explored and fought as mercenaries in the Western Himalayas, 1820-75.



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