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Himalaya: Life on the Edge of the World Hardcover – November 9, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

There is a lot of popular literature addressing the Himalayan environment and its politics, religion, and tourism. Geographers Zurich (Eastern Kentucky Univ.) and Karan (Univ. of Kentucky) have surveyed this writing and find much of it to be alarmist and simplistic. Here they attempt to explain and contextualize the complexities of the region. Yes, they say, the Himalayas have environmental problems, but not quite in the way that others have suggested. Yes, its culture is changing--but not necessarily for the worse. These two scholars know their subject well, and setting the record straight is important. But like so much academic writing, their text is weighed down by a surplus of documentation and repetition and their attacks on other scholars' findings. An important book for specialists, this book is beyond the needs of most public library users.
-Harold M. Otness, formerly with Southern Oregon Univ. Lib., Ashland
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"I welcome this book and will recommend it to the many people who are looking for an introduction to the complex geography, history, and social landscape of the Himalaya that underlie the patterns and processes we encounter there today. Himalaya: Life on the Edge of the World is both scholarly and accessible, presenting a wealth of information in a readable and engaging way." -- Barbara BrowerPortland State University, author of The Sherpa of Khumbu and editor of Himalayan Research Bulletin

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press; 1 edition (November 9, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801861683
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801861680
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,962,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Zurick photographs and writes about places around the world, from his goldfish pond in the Kentucky hills to the remote Himalaya.

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Nigel J. R. Allan on January 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Zurick and Karan's book on the Himalaya is easily the best book in recent years focussing on the condition of the Himalayan environment. Instead of using evidence from a few small examples, usually villages scattered across the Himalaya from Pakistan to Assam, the authors invoke a meta analysis, an examination of many studies and especially data from the entire area. This technique avoids any instances of the universal fallacy, that is, generalizing from a few cases the characteristics of all.
The thematic focus is on what is called The Theory of Himalayan Degradation as it was constructed by the alarmists in the 1970s into the 1980s including the German ecologist H-C Reiger, earth scientists Bruno Messerli and Jack Ives, and journalists like Erik Eckolm, a sometime science editor of the NY Times. Much of this concern, that there is a widespread environmental catastrophe in the Himalaya, is still being promoted. Zurick and Karan, both human geographers who have have been studying the Himalaya for a total of sixty years, find in their analysis that the Himalayan environmental situation is highly variable, problems exist, but the basic scenario that overpopulation causes cultivated land expansion and deforestation of steep lands, thereby increasing erosion, and silt laden runoff deposited downstream, is overly simplistic.
The authors review a large number of field studies and data sets across the Himalaya and through cartographic analysis to demonstrate that the current status of the Himalayan environment is diverse. Through a series of seven intensive regional studies, in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Nepal, Sikkim, and Bhutan the authors demonstrate the contemporary environmental status.
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