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Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Secret Exploration of Tibet (Kodansha Globe) Paperback – April 15, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Hopkirk's wonderfully vivid book describes the...always thrilling efforts of explorers, spies...to plumb Tibet's secrets."-Philadelphia Inquirer
"Hopkirk handles the storytelling with infectious enthusiasm...[with] great and obvious love for the subject, and is one of those British writers who cannot write an awkward of boring sentence."-Bruse Colman, The San Francisco Chronicle
"A lament for a country that, wanting only to be left alone, was hauled unceremoniously into the twentieth century, and is now an unwilling satellite of Communist China."-Richard E. Nicholls, The Philadelphia Inquirer
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Top Customer Reviews
Trespassers on the Roof of The World traces the history of colonial interlopers in their quest for the legendary city of Lhasa. Hopkirk follows the footsteps of the very first pundits who pioneered the mapping of Tibet and leads his readers through the bloody years of the Red Chinese Cultural Revolution. His treatment is both thorough and comprehensive. The reader first finds that the spirit of James Bond's "Q" was alive and well in the Survey of India, the chief repository of geographic intelligence during the Great Game. The early surveyor-spies for the British Empire were followed in turn by both Men-of-Science and Men (and, perhaps more prominently, Women)-of-God. Explorers of every cut and hue, and finally, the armies, both British and Chinese. Hopkirk treats each one, while intentionally glossing over some of the most celebrated of the Tibetan visitors, such as Heinrich Harrer.
As a collector of "rare books on Central Asia," Hopkirk makes ample use of the most obscure narratives and travel logs, in addition to the archives of the Survey of India and the Royal Geographic Society.Read more ›
Hopkirk tells the intriguing tales of the various adventurers, diplomats, and missionaries who made the earliest attempts to reach Lhasa, most of whom didn't make it. While mostly unsuccessful in reaching their ultimate goal, these hardy souls still had incredible stories to tell and contributed immensely to the sparse knowledge of Tibet's geography and culture. Included are some unexpected goodies like the story of the indestructible Pundits from India who literally counted the steps they took, plus the earliest deadly attempts to conquer Mt. Everest. The book ends rather depressingly with the story of China's brutal occupation in the 1950's, which ended Tibet's self-imposed isolation once and for all, after which the Chinese closed it off even more tightly because of political paranoia.
Throughout the book, Hopkirk offers some key insights into ancient Tibetan culture and their homegrown brand of extreme Buddhism.Read more ›
This time it's the story of the race to be first in Lhasa - even though the Tibetans asked no one to come and gave no one permission to enter their country. An international cast of Russians, North Americans, the French and the British all attempted to win. Hopkirk's tale of heroism and derring-do then ends with the tragic days of the mid-twentieth century when China invaded and Mao's Red Guard fanatics tried to destroy everything that stood in the way of total domination.
Most travellers entered Tibet incognito, either as private travellers hoping to evade detection, and win the prize of being first to enter the sacred city, or in the service of their military or religious masters. All failed, until the legendary Sir Francis Youghusband fought his way there - in true Great Game style - as the head of a British army battalion sent to head off Russian imperial advances into Tibet.
Of course, the Tibetans didn't want the Brits telling them what to do and conflict broke out. These days, the manner of the British victory at Guru - in the modern day Indian state of Sikkim - would be the subject of an international enquiry.
Many of the other tales are also tragic ...Others are heroic. Most spectacular of all were the 'Pundits' - British trained Indian's spies - who entered Tibet disguised as holy travellers and spent years spinning their prayer wheels, counting every pace and mapping every corner of the country for their colonial masters. It's amazing what you can learning from boiling water.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Even though it was a Hopkirk book I had a very hard time getting into it. Don't know if it was the way he wrote it or what, but it was not like any of his others that I read.Published on November 22, 2013 by TBL
This was the next Hopkirk book I read after The Great Game, which was a spectacular read. With this one I was disappointed. Read morePublished on May 22, 2013 by Riddick
This lively book sums up primary accounts by those in the Great Game rather than expanding their substance. Hopkirk here aims for a popularization of previous Tibetan explorers. Read morePublished on December 24, 2012 by John L Murphy
this was a huge disapointment when you consider the"great game" and other books of that age that hopkirk has written it was like chapter vignettes on getting to lhasa and getting... Read morePublished on September 18, 2012 by Priscilla M. Littau
There are no other words to describe this book other than it is a treasure trove of knowledge regarding Central Asian/Tibetan exploration. Read morePublished on December 7, 2011 by RachelB
I asked for this book as a present. I had read The Great Game by the author, along with many other books about Tibet and central asia. Read morePublished on September 25, 2011 by W. Osterberg
Peter Hopkirk has written a fascinating book which looks at the strange country of Tibet, a land high in the Himalayas which has evolved its own form of Buddhism. Read morePublished on June 25, 2011 by James D. Crabtree
Literature in English language on Tibet is very limited in recent times. This book is one among the few available. Read morePublished on June 20, 2011 by Karun Mukherji
Peter Hopkirk does his usual, excellent job chronicling the efforts of Westerners (especially the British) from the 1860's to the early 20th century to find a way to explore the... Read morePublished on March 24, 2011 by J. Swikart