Sunday, June 23, 2013


The mystical mountain regions of the Himalayas have captivated western imaginations: British imperial ambitions in the Great Game, spiritual questers seeking enlightenment, or hippies seeking a groovy end of a trail in Kathmandu.  Here's my miscellaneous collection. 

1.  Seven Years in Tibet, Heinrich Harrer (1954).  Austrian Harrer was an expert mountaineer preparing to climb a Himalayan peak when he was interred in India by the British.  He escaped his internment camp to make his way into Tibet.  Harrer gains the confidence of a young Dali Lama and stays in the mountain country until 1950 when he was forced out by the Chinese Communists.  40 pages of black and white photos.  Later made into a movie with Brad Pitt as Harrer.  Book-of-the-Month Club edition.  Bought used at an unremembered location.   

2.  Roof of the World: Tibet, Key to Asia, Amaury de Riencourt (1950).   In 1946, de Riencourt trekked into Tibet to study the mysticism of the Tibetan lamas.  He provides a portrait of the country with great detail on the capital city of Lhasa.  Black and white maps and photos.   Inscription from Christmas 1950, "Greetings to you Helen, you who are to me one of life's gifts - a friend who has been with me and through many years!  Love Louise."  Bought used at the State Department Bookstore.

3.  Tibet: A Chronicle of Exploration, John MacGregor (1970).  Pen-named by a U.S. Department of State diplomat who found the Himalayas irresistible.  This is history of European fascination and exploration of Tibet starting from the time of Marco Polo.  Black and white photos, illustrations and historical maps.  Bought used at the State Department Bookstore.

4.  Zanskar: The Hidden Kingdom, Michel Peissel (1979).  Piessel was an explorer of Himalayan lands.  Zanskar sits at the top of India next to Pakistan and Tibet in the Himalayan Range.  He befriends the two "kings" who rule this closed land.  Color photos.  Bought used, possibly at the State Department Bookstore. 

5.  Mustang: The Forbidden Kingdom, Michel Peissel (1967).  Isolation within Isolation -- Mustang is an area within Nepal.  Peissel continues his successful exploration of this remote area.  Bought used somewhere.

6.  Bayonets to Lhasa, Peter Flemming (1961).  Veteran adventurer of central Asia and brother of Ian Flemming, Peter Flemming provides a chapter in the history of the Great Game between Russia and England.  In 1904, the British incursion into Tibet was led by Colonel Francis Younghusband, soldier and mystic.  Bought used at the State Department Bookstore.  

7.  Stones of Silence, George Schaller: Journeys in the Himalayas (1980).  Mostly a study of wildlife of the Himalayas.  Color photos.  Bought at the State Department Bookstore.

8.  Beyond the High Himalayas, William O. Douglas (1952).  Written by the late Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.  Black and white and color photos and maps.  Bought used at the State Department Bookstore. 

9.  Tibetan Marches, Andrea Migot (1948).  Migot was a French Army doctor who journeyed alone through Eastern Tibet and China in order to research aspects of Tibetan Buddhism  During this journey he tried but failed to reach Lhasa disguised as a lama.  Bought used somewhere.  

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Great Waters


I grew up on the Great Lakes.  The lakes were always a backdrop for work, play and history.  During his teenage years, my father worked as a steward on passenger ships between Detroit and Buffalo.  My hometown of Huron, Ohio is the southern most port on the Great Lakes.  In the 1970s, ocean going freighters would come from the Soviet Union or Taiwan to load grain from the town's landmark Pillsbury grain silos.  In next door Sandusky, the coal docks picked up rail cars and tipped trainloads of  Appalachian coal into ship holds.  In the summer, we would boat over to the islands of western lake Erie and take our vacation the northern shore of Lake Michigan.  In junior high, I was fascinated by the fact that Oliver Hazard Perry had won a major naval battle  a few miles off shore during the War of 1812.  I wrote an English paper in middle school on ship wrecks on Lake Erie.  In November of that year was the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald on Lake Superior.  My favorite fish of all time are Lake Erie Perch.  During that time, I put together a small collection books.

1.  Gales of November: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, Robert J. Hemming (1997).  The Fitzgerald sinking was a reminder of how deadly shipping could be on the Great Lakes.  Christmas gift.












2.  A Pictorial History of the Great Lakes by Harlan Hatcher (1963).  Large picture book showing history and modern life on the Great Lakes.  Given to my father one Christmas and later inherited. 



3.  Land of the Inland Seas, by William Ellis (1994).  Beautiful color pictures. Christmas gift.  

Dwight Boyer wrote a series of books on the great lakes.   His books tell a stories of shipwrecks, storms, and mysteries.  Most of these acquired during my "shipwreck" phase in junior high.  

4.  Great Stories of the Great Lakes, Dwight Boyer (1966).



5.  Ghost Ships of the Great Lakes, Dwight Boyer (1968). 

 6. True Tales of the Great Lakes (1971).

 7.  Strange Adventure Adventures of the Great Lakes (1974).