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The Snow Leopard [Hardcover]

Peter Matthiessen
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug 1978
A book of travel and natural history, recounting a journey into the Himalayan massif in search of the snow leopard.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 338 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Pr; Book Club (BCE/BOMC) edition (Aug 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670653748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670653744
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 16.3 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 702,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A beautiful book, and worthy of the mountains he is among" (Paul Theroux)

"What began as a practical search for the rare snow leopard, revered Buddhist emblem, developed into a quest for the meaning of Being. An enjoyable combination of mountaineering and mysticism" (Observer)

"It's a tale of an inner struggle for calm, and would be an inspiring and sustaining desert island companion" (Emily Barr)

"As much the chronicle of an inner journey as it is the learned recording of an unfamiliar territory...a timeless account" (Independent)

"An evocative account of a remote and timeless place and its people" (Sunday Times) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

'Matthiessen's book is a triumph that will outlive him. It is a masterpiece' John Hillaby --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book 19 Jan 2006
Bought this while travelling, and didn't really appreciate how good it was until I returned home. Matthiesson's expedition with Schaller is excellently retold, and his linking of the essences of both spirituality and nature makes this book inspire a sense of calm, yet also sadness at the nature of our supposedly 'modern' society. I don't recall him beating any sherpa's as another reviewer has mentioned - he is (or was)a buddhist practitioner, and this would seem to be against his overriding principle - that we are all one with nature. This book is excellent as both a form of escapism, and for those who wish to read an informed and enlightened travel journal
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathe the Himalayan air 14 July 2004
I must have read this book at least a dozen times since first being given a copy at Christmas 1987. (I don't reread books much, as a whole.) Every time I come to it, there is something new to learn, to appreciate.Then there are some things that strike me EVERY time. Not least, the elegance and beauty of Matthiessen's writing-one minute he is writing of his meditative practice(he had been a Zen practitioner for several years when he made this Himalayan journey in the autumn of 1973), the next minute he's describing the very practical difficulties encountered on such an expedition (snow-drifts, altitude sickness,) and the NEXT minute he's describing-informatively, beautifully-the animals and plants. He's also very deep into Buddhist philosophy-as one might expect, of course-and knows a good few things about Buddhist iconography as well(whatever he modestly claims to the contrary).The book is not only an examination (and, ultimately, a celebration) of the snow leopard, or the Himalayan blue sheep, but also of the Himalayan way of life. I share some of his delight when, after many weeks of trials and tribulations, he finds himself standing in a remote gompa( a sort of Buddhist chapel or oratory), a place subtly gleaming with brass statues, prayer-wheels, etc. and lit only by candles.
It's an infectious book. And a powerful one. I'd also recommend Matthiessen's TIGERS IN THE SNOW, his study of the Amur( Siberian) tiger.If you're remotely interested in the big cats, you could do worse than treat yourself to both these gems.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book of great depth and exploration 4 Jan 2002
This book is a story of two journeys of exploration. On one hand it is an account of an expedition by the world famous field biologist Georges Schaller to remote North Western Nepal in search of the fabled Snow Leopard.
The second journey is Matthiessen's personal journey of spiritual discovery amongst the Himalayan gompas of both Buddhism and the ancient Bon religion.
Combining a remarkable eye for detail in the flora and fauna of the journey with a deeply moving account of his personal spiritual discoveries, this book is a "must read" for anyone with even the slightest interest in what lies beyond the mundane day to day world.
It is also a detailed account of a world which was at the time of the expedition untouched by Western technology or values. A world which largely no longer exists.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The snow Leopard 3 Mar 2006
By A Customer
Matthiessen’s book, written in beautiful, otherworldly prose, is a masterpiece.
The book describes the physical and spiritual journey the author undertakes to the far North-West of Nepal with the renowned naturalist George Schaller.
Mathiessen undertook this trek shortly after the death of his first wife - and whilst wrestling with the loss of a loved one, the shackles of modern western life and Mathiessen own spiritual exploration of Buddhist philosophies – the words drip off the pages like honey.
The pace of the narrative and the nuggets of spiritual and philosophical truth found within these pages echo in the readers mind and far outlive the reading of the book.
The people, the culture and the landscape come together and thrust the reader into a forgotten land at the time untouched by western influence. One of those classic reads you’ll be sure to tell friends and loved ones about and probably force them to read!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vertigo with heart 16 Nov 2006
As a present from a dear friend, this was a marvellous read.

The author heads for the Himalayan heights to seek out the elusive and precious mountain cat with the eminent mammalogist Schaller. Matthiessen writes of the mountains there and the grand hospitality from Nepal and hermits on their mountain retreats and the book harks back to elements of his wife's death and explorations of what life involves. He analyses the lives and manners of the people he encounters and describes the ruggedness of mountain climbing marrying together endurance with views, storms and tales of blue sheep and the mythical Yeti. This is for a discerning reader wishing to pause from the rat race to really take in a big picture and to weep silently.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful story, poor quality publication 1 Oct 2012
By Diana
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a truly inspiring story, very well written & completely fascinating BUT having already read it, I ordered more copies to give as presents and was most disappointed not to get the copy as illustrated (with the snow leopard picture on the cover) and to find that the overall quality of paper & print was poor.
In conclusion, the illustration next to the book offered for sale did not match the version I received.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it - read it on the back of a ...
Loved it - read it on the back of a very bumpy bus leaving Kathmandu.. it seemed very appropriate and fresh to be doing so.
Published 24 days ago by John
5.0 out of 5 stars Life changing
by Peter Matthiessen
Lynn Matheson's review May 24, 14 edit
5 of 5 stars
bookshelves: travel-writing, spirituality
Read from April 07 to 14,... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Lynn
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning
Beautiful book, insightful, an incredible journey documented with great care and wonderful description. Also very thought provoking. Will definitely search out more of his books. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Leza H
5.0 out of 5 stars Review
bought as present for friends currently in Northern India looking for Snow Leapoards. They were delighted with book but had not read it prior to leaving.
Published 5 months ago by B Grant
3.0 out of 5 stars Moving over the roof of the world
This is a beautifully written book of Matthiessen's journey to the roof of the world in Nepal. He is travelling with George Schaller, primarily to look for and study the wild blue... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Half Man, Half Book
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BOOK THAT CHANGED MY LIFE!
This is literally the book that changed my life. Read during a backpacking holiday in my mid twenties, I packed in the life I'd been pursuing for a quarter century, went back to... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars If you want to trek in the Himalayas but can't - this takes you there...
A beautifully poetic, descriptive book full of rich images, cliff-hangers, frustrations, exultations, and adventures that gives a wonderful flavour of life in this faraway land... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Sally Birtwell
5.0 out of 5 stars finally read this wonderful book
I've had a copy of the Snow Leopard for some years, but always put it aside to read 'some day' and I finally have.
This is such a beautiful book on so many levels. Read more
Published 14 months ago by writereader
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
Although a little dated now, a powerful and provocative piece of writing. Will read more of his work as a result.
Published 16 months ago by Kimblewickpress
5.0 out of 5 stars Present
This was a present for my son's stocking and he was very pleased with it. It was high on his list of items to read and he has enjoyed reading it.
Published 18 months ago by Sunshine
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