HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The…
Loading...

Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Secret Exploration of Tibet… (1983)

by Peter Hopkirk

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
341332,181 (4.05)2

None.

None
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 2 mentions

Showing 3 of 3
I generally enjoyed Peter Hopkirk's look at the efforts of the West to invade Lhasa in his book "Trespassers on the Roof of the World." This book had been recommended to me on both of my reading websites, but I kept avoiding it, thinking I had read it before. It actually was new to me, though I've read many of the first-hand accounts that Hopkirk summarizes in his work.

He does a great job writing up the various attempts of the mainly British efforts to see Lhasa first-hand. They were mostly entertaining, (even as I shook my head and wondered why they couldn't just leave the Tibetans alone, as they requested.

There is, however, something curiously Euro-centric about the book (especially as Hopkirk dismisses the Japanese man who lived in Tibet for years as the person to "win the race" to the Forbidden City. This irked me in other places in the book as well.

Overall, it is, however, a good look at the history of Tibet (from a Western "I will conquer the world" perspective.) ( )
  amerynth | Mar 19, 2017 |
This little book on the history of the infiltration of Tibet by the West is quite fascinating. Beginning in the mid-1800’s, a number of brave and/or crazy but ultimately unsuccessful explorers and missionaries from England, Russia, America, France, India, and China were “hell-bent” on being the first into the holy city of Lhasa – at 12,000 feet the world’s highest capital. The terrain was perilous, the weather worse, and the Tibetans resistant. It was not until a British mission was put together in 1903 with more than a thousand soldiers, 7,000 mules, 4,000 yaks, and 10,000 “coolies” that the mission was accomplished. The British had to fight a battle though to get through the last barrier, Karo Pass. At 16,000 feet, the skirmish was fought at a higher altitude than any other engagement in history. (The British, with their advanced weaponry, lost five men with another 13 wounded, while the Tibetans suffered more than four hundred dead and wounded.) Once the British crossed into Lhasa, however, they saw this squalid and unprepossessing city full of wild roaming pigs and dogs, and wondered what all the fuss had been about….

The story of the early attempts to get to Lhasa are pretty awe-inspiring, beginning with the Indian spies trained by the British. They wandered through Tibet for years disguised as holy men, with measuring and recording instruments hidden inside Buddhist prayer wheels and Tibetan rosaries. They never succeeded in getting to Lhasa however, as there was little incentive for locals to assist them: Tibetans who were discovered helping foreigners get to Lhasa, even by selling them food or providing shelter, would be tortured and killed. Then there was the young missionary couple whose newborn died as they trudged along at sixteen and seventeen thousand feet, not understanding that little lungs were inadequate to the challenge. A couple of the adventurers were even women traveling alone.

The book ends with the unfortunate story of the transfer of Tibet’s sovereignty to China in 1950, and the failure of the rest of the world to respond to Tibet’s pleas for help. Tibetans suffered religious and political persecution, and it is estimated that up to one million Tibetans may have died in the repression by the Chinese and attempts at resistance to it. In 1980, some reforms were instituted by the Chinese government, including the decision to allow tourists to visit certain areas. But calls for independence by Tibet halted the liberalization. China keeps a tight control over press coverage in Tibet, and it seems as difficult as it ever was for the West to know what is going on in Lhasa.

Discussion: I found this book very interesting, and I especially enjoyed learning about Tibetan Buddhism. As for Tibet's sad history, I’d have to agree with Hopkirk’s closing statement: "…it is hard not to feel some sympathy for this gentle, cheerful and long-suffering people who only ever asked one thing of the outside world. And that was to be left alone.”

Evaluation: This book was written in 1982 and updated in 1994, but while dated, it is still considered to be one of the better resources for understanding Tibet and the history of its exploration and conquest. ( )
2 vote nbmars | Nov 15, 2011 |
Trespassers on the Roof of the World is a narrative history of outside travel into Tibet during the period of about 1850 to 1950. It is not an exhaustive survey but retells some of the most well known and interesting stories for a popular audience. Hopkirk is a skilled journalistic story teller and he keeps the reader enthralled with one amazing story after the next, I hardly wanted to put the book down. As is the case in books like this, a lot of ground is covered at the expense of wanting to know more and not getting a good feel for the people involved. In the end the book is a popularizer of some really good travel literature about Tibet and it should send the reader off to explore in more detail some of these great and now obscure works.

--Review by Stephen Balbach, via CoolReading (c) 2008 cc-by-nd ( )
1 vote Stbalbach | May 24, 2008 |
Showing 3 of 3
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original language
Book description
Bundel reisverhalen, verzameld uit nog niet eerder verschenen en reeds gepubliceerde boeken van hoofdzakelijk uitgeverij Atlas. De bundel wil de lezer een breed beeld geven van het land, de natuur en de verschillende samenlevingsvormen. Pocketeditie.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192851322, Paperback)

Hidden behind the Himalayas and ruled over by a God-king, Tibet has always cast a powerful spell over travellers form the West. In this remarkable, and ultimately tragic narrative, Peter Hopkirk recounts the forcible opening up of this medieval land during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the extraordinary race between agents, soldiers, missionaries, mountaineers, explorers, and mystics from nine different countries to reach Lhasa, Tibet's sacred capital. His story concludes with the ultimate act of trespass - the Chinese invasion of 1950. This book is intended for those with a general interest in the Far East, history, and adventure. Some academic interest.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:42 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

No library descriptions found.

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
33 wanted2 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.05)
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5 1
3 11
3.5 3
4 24
4.5 4
5 15

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 113,794,986 books! | Top bar: Always visible