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Pioneer in Tibet: The Life and Perils of Dr. Albert Shelton Hardcover – March 18, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 6 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


"This excellent volume is well researched...Its descriptions of life both in Kansas and in China-Tibet are superb."--Stone-Campbell Journal "Pioneer in Tibet is a fascinating and well-written account of pioneer days in that remote land's emergence into Western history. including the violent and chaotic period when European powers first challenged Chinese control in the imperial machinations and blunders of the 'Great Game.'"-- Peter Matthiessen, author of National Book Award winner, The Snow Leopard

"A thrilling true adventure story of courage and mystery against the tumultuous backdrop of Tibetan history. One is fascinated and enriched by this beautifully written book that reveals much about the American hero and the mysteries of Tibet. This fascinating tale lingers long after the last chapter is concluded."-- Mabel Cabot, author of
Vanished Kingdoms: A Woman Explorer in Tibet, China, and Mongolia 1921-1925

"Beautifully written, Pioneer in Tibet, is a compelling exploration of the gutsy rhythms, the pioneering spirit that is at once particularly American and universal in its ability to awaken the spirit, that longing for exploration and discovery."-- George Crane, author of
Bones of the Master: A Journey to Secret Mongolia

"A remarkable story about a remarkable man. Not only did Albert Shelton bring medical care to a bandit-infested area of Tibet and introduce treasures form Tibetan life to Americans, but he also ranks high among that forgotten and misundertood breed of pioneering missionaries, erudite and open to the culture around them, who made inhospitable places home and gave their lives to the people they served." -- Barbara Crosette, author of
So Close to Heaven:The Vanishing Buddhists Kingdoms of the Himalayas

Pioneer in Tibet is not really about a man, but about a fascinating place and era: Kham at the turn of the 20th century. Doug Wissing has combed hundreds of rare sources to assemble this impressively detailed and stringently objective account. Compared to Wissing's book, I know of no Tibetan histories that bring to the reader so much fresh information. It is a must-read for historians, activists, and travelers who want to better understand this embattled and captivating part of the Tibetan plateau."-- Pamela Logan, author of Among Warriors: A Woman Martial Artist in Tibet and president of the Kham Aid Foundation

20"Dr. Albert Shelton was the twentieth-century's David Livingston. Douglas Wissing's portrayal of this Disciples of Christ missionary is no hagiography. Shelton is presented in his human complexity as a healer, diplomat, collector and dealer in Tibetan artifacts, interpreter of Tibetan culture to Americans, as well as a courageous servant of God. In Wissing's words, Shelton possessed an "adventurer heart and missionary soul" as his life's journey took him from the frontier border of Kansas to the frontier border of Tibet. Shelton's biographical portrait is well positioned in Wissing's detailed descriptions of the machinations of the China-Tibet conflicts of the early twentieth century." -- Peter M. Morgan President, Disciples of Christ Historical Society, Nashville, Tennessee

"...[Wissing's] insights on American missionary life and Shelton's daring make for a lively narrative."

Book Description

Dr. Albert Shelton was a medical missionary who spent nearly twenty years in the Tibetan borderlands at the start of the last century. Raising his family in a land of banditry and civil war, caught between a weak Chinese government and the British Raj, Shelton proved to be a resourceful frontiersman. During the course of his work in Tibet, he was praised by the Western press as a family man, revered doctor, respected diplomat, and fearless adventurer. Driven by his goal of setting up a medical mission within Lhasa, the seat of the Dalai Lama and a city off-limits to Westerners for hundreds of years, Shelton acted as a valued go-between for the Tibetans and Chinese. Tragically, while finalizing his entry into Lhasa, Shelton was shot to death on a remote mountain trail in the Himalayas. Set against the exciting history of early twentieth century Tibet and China, Pioneer in Tibet offers a window into the life of a dying breed of adventurer.
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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Palgrave Macmillan (March 18, 2004)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 352 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1403963282
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1403963284
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.4 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.13 x 1.19 x 9.25 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 6 ratings

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Moving between radically disparate worlds is the modus operandi for journalist, author, and independent scholar Douglas Wissing. But the true work comes in the telling: in the weaving of a complex narrative steeped in the spirit of far-flung places; a story that radiates the intense experience of going there and listening.

Educated as a historian and political scientist, Wissing has repeatedly embedded with US soldiers in Afghanistan, scrambled over avalanche-choked passes in bandit-ridden corners of Tibet to speak with the reincarnation of a valuable source. He’s gained insight into Washington insiders, Hong Kong Communist plutocrats, extreme body modifiers, modern medieval armorers and Belgian Trappist brewers who craft the world’s rarest beer. He’s listened to the lives of Vietnamese Impressionist painters, maverick mycologists, and Cuban internationalists.

His thought-provoking writing and meticulous research have resulted in eight books and landed his unique perspective in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Foreign Policy,, and on BBC and NPR networks, as well as in tastemaker journals from ARTnews to Saveur. His award-winning reportage on Afghanistan has attracted wide attention among U.S. policy-makers, as has his two books on the failed Afghanistan War, "Funding the Enemy: How US Taxpayers Bankroll the Taliban" and his recent picaresque account, "Hopeless but Optimistic: Journeying through America's Endless War in Afghanistan."

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