In this true story of espionage and survival in the Himalayas, Wignall tells of his 1955 expedition to climb Tibet s highest mountain and his mission to report on Chinese military operations in newly invaded Tibet Some top notch adventure writing Kirkus Reviews Photos....
|Title||:||Spy On The Roof Of The World: Espionage and Survival in the Himalayas|
|Number of Pages||:||489 Pages|
|File Size||:||673 KB|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Spy On The Roof Of The World: Espionage and Survival in the Himalayas Reviews
Good Book and in good condition.
Forty years ago when I was an undergraduate I had an abiding interest in the "Roof of the World." the Himalayas and the Sinkiang and Tibetan areas. I was introduced to it by reading Heinrich Harrar's Seven Years in Tibet. I wentback and reread the accounts of Franc and Jean Bowie Shor which had appeared in the National Geographic in the late 40s. Also when I was a child I had read Lowell Thomas's account of his 1949 visit to Tibet in the Saturday Evening Post. Later when I took a job as a cartographer with the Army Map Service for a while I was assigned the area to keep up with. Nepal and India particularly. By then the high Asia area had been long closed to western travelers by the Red Chinese. For a few years in the late forties just after WW II there was a period of open borders when the Chinese Civil War was being settled and the areas mentioned were still friendly to westerners. Even in the midst of the war the American OSS had sent an expedition to Lhasa to explore opening a land supply route to China from India. While I was still studying geography, the Indo Chinese War of 1962 broke out along the narrow neck of India where then East Pakistan juts northward and almost cuts off the Northeast Frontier provinces. The war had been provoked by Indian government posturing, whose foreign minister V.K. Krishna Menon, a left wing appeaser, disagreed with the Army and their intent to reinforce themselves. The dispute with China had been provoked by Indian vague border claims inherited from the British in the area of Ladakh, which is way to the west of Tibet and south of Sinkiang. This "border" was shown on most maps with a dotted line which meant that it was a claim not a line of control. Neither the British or the Indians had ever patrolled or garrisonned Ladakh. The whole area is a cold barren plateau about as infertile as the Mohave desert. The only reason to want it is that the Chinese had constructed a road across the claimed area from Sinking to Tibet in order to facilitate their occupation of the latter. Although this is a mighty roundabout way to get to Lhasa from China proper, considering the expense of building a road across the folded mountains of the "Hump" it made sense. When the Indians started posturing and barking about this intrusion into their claimed lands, the Chinese swiftly invaded directly south from Tibet through Sikkim and gave the Indian Army a bloody setback. Having proved their point they then withdrew. Now comes the setting for this story. Among several nations who were sympathetic to the Tibetan's aspirations was the US and the CIA. That story of their support is covered elsewhere. However, the long snaky shaped nation of Nepal lies between India and Tibet. On the northern flank and part of Nepal is a bump on the map which is the Kingdom of Mustang. There are books about it also. This area being lower in altitude and the border being porous was an ideal location for air strips supplying the Tibetan resistance and a jumping off point for land expeditions against the Red Army. Though all this had to be kept quiet, the Mustang border was widely recognized if undemarcated so the Red Chinese could not for international political reasons move in there permanently. Now we come to the story told in this book. Before the development of high flying reconnaissance aircraft such as the U2 there were few planes available that could fly over the area clandestinely and not be spotted. As mapping runs require a regular pattern of repetitive flights, the activity is both apparent and readily vulnerable to attack. In any case the use of US planes was not possible and there were no air bases near either. So the only way to find anything out was to sneak and peek. The author was a British mountaineer who mounted a small expedition to Mustang. While passing through India he was secretly contacted by Indian Army intelligence and asked to dash over the border and check out a town which contained a Chinese garrison. While doeing so he was captured, jailed, and then set free to hike over the mountains in the winter. The book recounts his experiences in some detail and having been written many years later when most of the other players are long dead, has been able to be frank in his opinions.
With the current crisis between the United States and China filling up the pages of the news media and the television screen, this book serves both a jarring and entertaining reminder of the nature of the totalitarian state of China, and of Communist regimes in general. An absolutely riveting book, it is a firsthand account of the experiences of the author and his two companions in a Tibetan prison after being captured for illegally entering Tibet while on a mountaineering expedition and reconnaisance mission for India. The detailed descriptions of numerous interrogations by the People's Liberation Army and their tactics of psychological torture through "Chinese Roulette" and "Struggling Against" lay bare the tactics and aims of the Communist ideology -- Truth is Fiction, and Fiction is Truth. I found myself re-reading passages of this book almost in disbelief at the insanely distorted beliefs and actions of the author's captors. In the end, the author learns to turn the tables on his interrogators by exploiting the "Truth is Fiction, and Fiction is Truth" aspect of Communism, and provides the People's Liberation Army with "secret intelligence" so laughably ridiculous that anyone with the capability to think independently would reject immediately. The fact that the author's interrogators take all of his fabrications seriously is the truly frightening side of these outwardly comical confessions, because it shows the success that the Communist Party had in China with brainwashing large segments of the population. There are two passages in the book which completely distill the differences in the view between East and West of the value of life. The first is the description of the slow and deliberate slaughter of a live sheep by several Chinese prison guards, while the second is the inability of the author to kill one of his captors even after being put through all that has been described up to that point. These two passages, which occur in relatively close juxtaposition in the book, is one of the starkest, most brutal comparisons of "good and evil" that I have ever read.
I read this book sometime ago and was thrilled and captivated by it! I could not put it down. It was so unusual and so interesting - a view point of the Chinese by a Scotsman (who worked as a spy for the Indian army that he loved and respected, in addition to climbing the treacherous Gurla Mandhata, which had been his lifelong mountaineering ambition as a member of the Scottish Himalayan Club) who suffered being captured, imprisoned and tortured by them. All of this and subtly funny throughout! I could not put the book down until I had finished reading all of it! Tellingly, this adventure cured the author of his mountaineering passion.
This is the best book I have ever read, on any topic. My husband and I had to move to a new house with two extra bedrooms and a finished basement - just so we could accomodate all our books. So I don't say lightly that this is the best book I have ever read.
I read this book years ago and it still stands out as one of the must reads for anyone with an interest in Tibet and it's "liberation" by China. More time is spent in prison than climbing, but it is still a true adventure story. I highly recommend it!