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Murder in the High Himalaya: Loyalty, Tragedy, and Escape from Tibet Hardcover – June 1, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 83 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 2006, an impulsive, naïve young Tibetan nun and her best friend, both yearning for religious freedom from Chinese rule, joined a group of fellow Tibetans desperate to escape to India, where the Dalai Lama has lived since the 1950 annexation of Tibet by China. Kelsang Namtso and Dolma Palkyi embarked on the brutal journey over the Himalayas. Smuggled by illegal guides past Chinese border police, the group braved freezing temperatures and snow, the high altitude, and perilous crevasses. Green alternates the refugees' trek with that of Luis Benitez, an American celebrity mountain guide leading a rich group of international clients to the Himalayan peak Cho Oyu. The two groups met on the peak as Chinese guards, alerted to the refugees' presence, chased after the escapees with machine guns ablaze, and Kelsang was killed in full view of the Westerners. One of Benitez's clients filmed the incident, which gained worldwide notoriety. Awkwardly written and poorly edited, freelance journalist Green's earnest chronicle trumpets his disdain for the exploitation of the Himalayas by rich, macho mountaineering novices, his hatred of Chinese Communists for human rights violations, and his reverence for Tibetan culture. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Kirkus Reviews

Green’s steely, factually dense analysis of this unlawful conspiracy sheds light on a perennial human-rights crisis…. In clear, concise prose, the author deliberates over China’s stranglehold on Tibet, its systematic dismantling of the indigenous culture and the terror tactics employed on families.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 edition (June 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586487140
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586487140
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,032,559 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jonathan Green is an award-winning author and investigative journalist specializing in narrative non-fiction. He has reported from Sudan on jihadist militias, the guerilla-controlled jungles of Colombia on the cocaine trade, corruption in oil-rich Kazakhstan and the destruction of the rainforest in Borneo. He has worked undercover in the Himalayan mountains in Tibet and Nepal tracking refugee routes, been down illegal gold mines in Africa while investigating human rights abuses and worked in the gang-controlled favelas of Brazil, the townships of Johannesburg and the garrisons of Jamaica among many other demanding assignments around the globe.
His first book, Murder in the High Himalaya, won the coveted Banff Mountain Book Competition in the Mountain and Wilderness Category in 2011. It also won the American Society of Journalists and Authors Outstanding Non Fiction Book of the Year in 2011. The book is endorsed by the Dalai Lama and actor Richard Gere.
Green has been the recipient of the Amnesty International Media Award for Excellence in Human Rights Journalism, the American Society of Journalists and Authors award for reporting on a significant topic, Environment story of the year at the Foreign Press Association, the North American Travel Journalists Association for Sports in Conjunction with Travel and Feature Writer of the Year in the Press Gazette Magazine and Design Awards. His work has been anthologized in the Best American Crime Writing. On winning Exclusive of the Year at the Magazine Design and Journalism Awards the judges said, "It shows Green's painstaking research and dogged determination and belief that a story must be followed to the bitter end."
He has written for hundreds of clients around the world and his work has been translated into at least twenty languages. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Men's Journal, The Sunday Times Magazine, Men's Health, British Esquire, Fast Company, British GQ, The Guardian, Best Life, The Observer Magazine, Hemispheres, Daily Telegraph Magazine, Marie Claire, The Scotsman Magazine, Car, South China Morning Post Magazine, The Australian, Mail on Sunday's Live Magazine, Bike, Readers Digest, The Financial Times, The Times Magazine and Worth among many others.
Jonathan has been interviewed about his work on CNN, the BBC, radio and television, and NPR among others. He has done scores of speaking engagements at universities, colleges and companies about his work, investigative journalism, human and environmental issues and his latest book, Murder in the High Himalaya.
He lives in Massachusetts.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The main story line is about a mountain climbing expedition intersecting destiny with an escaping Buddhist nun named Kelsang. Merely telling this story would have been interesting enough, but the author goes through many interesting and worthwhile detours to add to the overall mood of the story and the book. There are valuable historical chunks, like the British involvement in Tibet and how they hired spies to map out vast regions of Tibet. There are a lot of chunks about Chinese communism and Tibet as well. The narrative style is the kind that I like, with no overt judgments being made, but instead describing many revealing events in enough detail to feel one is living there, and letting the reader draw his or her own conclusions. There is, for instance, a section on Cordyceps which was called "soft gold" because it was so valuable, and was abundant enough to be a Tibetan natural resource, with many Tibetan towns going from subsistence living to prosperity through it. There are enough descriptions of Tibetan religious life, too, to get a feeling for how Tibetan Buddhism is lived. The author quotes enough source material to indicate that he is well read on the subject. The backdrop of Buddhist quotes counterpoints the drama of the escape and how the nun got shot while escaping. All in all, a very good narrative, a hidden book on history and current events, and an indirect sharing about the life of Tibetan Buddhists in a country sometimes oppressed by a foreign political power.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Murder in the High Himalaya is an exquisitely crafted tale that depicts nearly indescribable horrors. It is actually three vivid stories, woven seamlessly together: the heroic attempts of impoverished Tibetans to survive economically, culturally and spiritually; the ethical dilemma of wealthy Westerners faced with choosing between dangerous self-indulgence and moral imperative; and the abuse and torture inflicted by the Chinese as they pursue genocide in their relentless drive for world dominance.

These three irreconcilable cultures converge at a moment in time - September 30th 2006 - at a single place on Earth: the Nangpa La Pass through the Himalayan Mountain Range between Tibet and Nepal. In the brilliant morning sunlight on snowy mountains, Western climbers witness Chinese border soldiers murdering Tibetans, including a 17-year-old nun, as the Tibetans attempt to go to India to meet their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. The Tibetans want to leave oppressive captivity in their own country - some briefly, some permanently - and are restrained, retained and tortured by the Chinese occupying forces. The Western climbers want to battle the thin air and treacherous ice of the world's highest mountains, and pay extraordinary amounts of money to the Chinese for the right to safely enter Tibet. The Chinese stand at the fulcrum, AK-47s fully loaded in the hands of young soldiers.

It is one thing to tell a story; it is another to tell a story truthfully; it is yet again a much more nuanced and delicate task to be both elegant and objective, and allow the story to unfold itself to the reader. The author has achieved the last of these three, and the death of 17-year-old Tibetan Buddhist nun Kelsang Namtso is all the more heart wrenching because Mr.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Subtitled "Loyalty, Tragedy, and Escape from Tibet" , this book tells a harrowing true story that has received international attention. It vividly portrays an incident that occurred in September 2006 when mountaineers planning to climb Mount Cho Oyu witnessed Chinese soldiers firing on unarmed Tibetans who were trying to escape to India through Nepal. A Romanian journalist who was on the mountaineering trip filmed it and later other journalists brought this incident to the world's attention. This story and how it all played out is the subject of this engrossing book. It reads like fiction but, unfortunately, it is all true and the reality of the brutality of the Chinese in Tibet is glaringly brought to light.

The book is told in chapters alternating between two points of view. We first meet two teenage Tibetan girls, one of whom is a Buddhist nun, who are determined to flee from Tibet to India, where the Dalai Lama has lived since the late 1950s. Since then, many Tibetans have made this dangerous trek over icy mountains. The Chinese try to stop these trips, arresting the refugees they catch and subjecting them to horrible tortures. But the thirst for freedom is great and there is a constant stream of people willing to pay their life savings to guides, bribe officials and face the dangers of traipsing over ice and snow in one of the most physically challenging terrains in the world.

We also meet an enterprising tour guide who makes a very comfortable living escorting wealthy climbers up Mount Everest. We learn about the lucrative mountaineering business and the reluctance of the people involved in it to offer help to the refugees and offend the Chinese. The tour guide sees the murder of the young nun and risks his career to bring the story to light.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In 2006, a video began circulating on YouTube [see comments below for links] showing Tibetan refugee's escaping across the border into Nepal while being fired upon by Chinese army goons. In the distance a lone figure falls dead on the mountain. This became known as the Nangpa La shooting, which is the story behind investigative journalist Jonathan Green's book `Murder in the High Himalaya`. It seems like a minor incident now, but Green draws in many facets and people to build a gripping and important contemporary story about Tibet, and a very personal profile of exactly what "human rights abuse" really means.

Green begins with a brief introduction to the history of Tibet and the Chinese occupation in 1950. He then threads a braided human interest narrative about two main characters: Kelsang Namtso, the 17-year old girl murdered on the mountain; and Luis Benitez, an American mountain climber who witnessed it and whose life would be changed forever. Each chapter switches back and forth between the two, moving forward in time until their paths finally cross that fateful day. It reads like a novel.

I don't like to use the Nazi analogy, but its true, Tibet today is like occupied Europe under the Nazis. Not Western Europe, but Eastern Europe, where things were much tougher. It makes for thrilling if not chilling reading with late-night escapes, dogs, searchlights and check-points. Internment camps, sadistic guards, torture, bribes, safe houses, underground railroads, Collaborators and Resisters, etc.. it's all real and happening today. Green's book is one of the few reliable accounts since the wall of secrecy and Tibetan culture still keep most people silent.

`Murder` changed how I view Tibet, its clearly a very bad situation.
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