Himalaya: Exploring the Roof of the World

Bloomsbury. Nov. 2022. 432p. ISBN 9781632869432. $30. GEOG
Keay (Explorers of the Western Himalayas; The Tartan Turban: In Search of Alexander Gardner) takes readers on an exploration of a vast and ecologically varied region, following in the footsteps of (primarily European) adventurers, administrators, climbers, sportsmen, and scholars who ventured into its interior beginning in the early 19th century. Gradually chipping away at the mysteries of Himalaya’s fluid borders and disputed territories through the pursuit of trade routes and antiquities, Keay shows how these explorers laid the groundwork for the modern forces of commercialization and resource exploitation that threaten the region’s natural and cultural heritage. From the plate tectonics that created Himalaya’s mountain ranges to the influence of successive waves of Buddhist thought, the book’s necessary broad scope covers such a diverse range of topics that none are afforded the depth of examination they are due. Yet by highlighting how much there is still to understand about Himalaya and its peoples, Keay has deftly underscored the dangers posed by development, conflict, and climate change.
VERDICT An important work on an imperiled land, best suited to collections with an emphasis on geography, geology, or environmentalism.
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