HIMĀLAYA: Exploring the Roof of the World

Bloomsbury, Sept 2022

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'Adds the human element to the hard rock. And what a rich vein it is.'

- Michael Palin

'John Keay is the master storyteller and historian. He has long been an inspiration. This grand narrative of Himalaya is as epic as the mountains and peoples he describes.'

- Dan Snow

'Let John Keay be your guide to the Himalayas: he has decades of first-hand experience in the region, he wears his extensive learning lightly and he is a magnificent storyteller.'

- Chris Bonington

'John Keay is the guru of modern writers on Himalaya. Here, after a lifetime’s travel and reflection, is the story of the most important region on earth; the origin of Asia’s greatest rivers, the source of water for two billion people, a region on which – it is no exaggeration to say – the fate of the planet depends. This gripping tale unfolds in historical time, in mythical time and in geological time; but most of all in the here and now, as competing nationalisms fight over the largely unprotected ecosystems of Himalaya. Unprotected by binding treaties, and hopelessly fragmented, the Himalaya is seen as fair game for exploitation in a world of fast diminishing resources and disputed borders. Keay describes how mountaineering tourism is destroying its golden goose; how miners, mineralogists and – most ominously – dam builders queue in their wake. And yet in places there still persists the ancient equilibrium with the eternal snows in which human beings have lived for so many millennia. But for how much longer? In the end the book is a plea for sanity, for a uniquely fragile global asset that is now in crisis. I read John Keay’s account with a growing sense of loss – and a sense of the beauty and majesty that once was.'

- Michael Wood

'From palaeontology to mysticism, from the East India Company to mountaineers, this is dazzlingly wide-ranging, brilliantly researched and elegantly told.'

- Ranulph Fiennes

'The appropriate crown for John Keay’s writing on Asia. His study of the Himalaya marks the grand finale to his prodigious twin histories of India and China. Roll over Edward Gibbon. The powerful reimagining of the Himalaya from the structural perspective adds to the mountaineering and mythological lore, while the magisterial style is lightened by marvellous one liners (‘Everest, more like an imperial war grave than international challenge’), the author’s wit as rarified as the altitude… One of the best and easily the most informed books on the Himalaya.'

Bill Aitken

'A dazzling collision of storytelling and scholarship, and the culmination of a lifetime’s research and experience, this is surely John Keay’s masterwork. He tackles the epic subject of the entire Himalayan region, through human history, and brings to it his own distinctive style – at once authoritative and colourful, stirring and droll, ambitious yet humble. A compelling portrait of a uniquely vulnerable region.'

- James McConnaghie