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To a Mountain in Tibet [Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

Colin Thubron , Steven Crossley
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Mar 2011


Mount Kailas is the most sacred of the world's mountains - holy to one fifth of humanity. Isolated beyond the central Himalayas, its summit has never been scaled, but for centuries the mountain has been ritually circled by Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims.

Colin Thubron joins these pilgrims, after an arduous trek from Nepal, through the high passes of Tibet, to the magical lakes beneath the slopes of Kailas itself. He talks to secluded villagers and to monks in their decaying monasteries; he tells the stories of exiles and of eccentric explorers from the West.

Yet he is also walking on a pilgrimage of his own. Having recently witnessed the death of the last of his family, his trek around the great mountain awakes an inner landscape of love and grief, restoring precious fragments of his own past.

'I would rather read Colin Thubron than any other travel writer alive' - John Simpson

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc; Unabridged edition (1 Mar 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1452651140
  • ISBN-13: 978-1452651149
  • Product Dimensions: 19.2 x 13.3 x 1.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,268,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A distinguished travel writer and novelist, Colin Thubron was named by the Times as one of the fifty greatest post-war writers. His books include Among the Russians, Behind the Wall, In Siberia and the New York Times bestseller Shadow of the Silk Road. He has won many awards.

Product Description


"Given that Thubron has shown himself over a lifetime's work to be our finest, is seems fitting that what is as much memoir as travel book should have as its setting the greatest spiritual pilgrimage the East has to offer" (Daily Telegraph)

"A master class in travel writing that's also infused with the author's "shadowy melancholy" of ageing and grief...Thubron showcases here all the skills that have earned him the champion's belt as Britain's best living travel writer" (Sunday Times)

"Exquisitely written, To a Mountain in Tibet is not just a travelogue; it amounts to a heart-felt hosanna to the travails of walking... Colin Thubron takes us back to the days of exploration when the going was rough. To a Mountain in Tibet, a matchless work of literary travel, confirms Thubron as a wise and discriminate prospector in the affairs of man" (Ian Thompson Irish Times)

"Daring and brilliant. Thubron has crafted a book which beautifully describes one man's experience of loss, familial love, and even the state of mortal indeterminacy itself - how we all keep our memories, consoled and bewildered by turns, the sun on our faces, and the birds carrying above" (Joanna Kanvenna Observer)

"This is a bold and brave journey, an elegiac book by a master of prose at the height of his powers" (Justin Marozzi Evening Standard) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

Longlisted for the Dolman Travel Book of the Year - this is the doyen of travel writing at his elegiac and luminous best. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
That Colin Thubron is a writer out of the top drawer is beyond dispute, but I do not think this is one of his best books. Always an author who deploys a rich descriptive vocabulary, in this book I feel Thubron overdoes it. The descriptive vocabulary is often so dense and the use of simile so frequent that, instead of helping me picture the landscape through which the author was trekking, I was often stopped in my tracks part way through a sentence trying to work out what he was saying, and finding myself floundering in a soup of colourful language and imagery. In the book "In Siberia", Thubron's intense descriptive palette is offset by a deep exploration of and insight into the character of people he encounters on his journey, including his own character. In this book the narrative lacks depth and I don't feel we really learn much about anyone beyond the superficial, and not enough to make me really care deeply about anyone. I found the book heavy going - meandering and without a clear sense of purpose, even though there are some allusions to Thubron seeing the journey as an opportunity to reflect on life following the death of the last member of his immediate family. It is only in the final couple of chapters, where the author and other travellers climb very high into the mountains to go over a pass of spiritual significance that the book comes focused and sparks into life.
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76 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lyrical and moving 1 Feb 2011
By Samogon
Travel writer extraordinaire Colin Thubron is back. If you're familiar with his rich, mellifluous prose and empathetic exploration of non-western culture, religion and history, then this is a must-read piece of work.

To a Mountain in Tibet describes the author's journey as embarks on a pilgrimage to sacred Mount Kailas, encountering on his way a fascinating cross-section of Nepalese and Tibetan society.

Shorter than usual but movingly personal, profound and highly evocative, this is a book (like all of Thubron's) which deserves to be read again and again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent and melancholy travel writing 10 Oct 2011
Another magnificent book from one of the very finest travel writers. It's a shorter book than usual for this author, about a journey he made round the sacred Mount Kailas to mark the passing of the last of his family apart from himself. Most of the usual aspects that mark Thubron's travel writing so distinctly are here - meticulous research into the history, religion and politics of the remote areas he visits, a razor sharp eye for detail, the air of reflective melancholy, and especially the lyrical prose he uses to clothe his thoughts and observations.

This time however something is added and something taken away. The addition is of moving thoughts on the death of loved ones that will strike a chord with many. As you might expect with this author these are understated, which gives them all the more power. The missing bit is the usual level of interactions with people he meets on his travels, gaining insights into their lives and circumstances. There are some in this book but they do seem less deep than usual. Some of this may be the circumstances of the walk - physical tiredness and oxygen depletion don't lend themselves to deep conversation, but I think it is likely to be because he has chosen to keep the focus more firmly on himself for once. My guess is that has not been easy for this writer, who is so used to keeping himself in the background. I had a real sense of almost doing the pilgrimage along with Thubron, so vivid were his descriptions, and was sad when it was over.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Maybe it's the altitude 7 July 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It's not one of his better books. The first half is quite rewarding, but my interest tailed off dramatically as Thubron actually reached Kailas. He seems to run out of material and inspiration and is forced to delve into the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon and consider the faith's cosmology to find something to write about. He name checks a few 'deities' and offers a bit of background on them, but at times his account could have been ripped from Wikipedia. And in the end, for non-believers, it's too much detail, no more or less interesting than any colourful superstition.

Let's face it, most of Thubron's admirers will have read this book by now (June 2011). Those unfamiliar with his work should try Behind the Wall.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why is he making this journey? 25 Jan 2012
By Boels
Very well written almost poetic at times and I like that.
But it is as if his heart isn't in it at all times. Most westerners have this feeling of Tibet as a 'magical place' and if we could all get a piece of the harmony it'll all be good. I don't know if Thubron is forcing this upon himself.. maybe it's all heartfelt..

Also, I would have apreciated some more space dedicated to the people he met along the way!

But still, great language and interesting!
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonder and inspiration 9 Feb 2011
A superb book full of compassion,ideas and acute insights. He takes us through his narrative camera to places remote austere and beguiling .
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spiritually uplifting 6 April 2011
By Kim
This book has really lifted my spirits! I have not read Colin Thubron before and my purchasing this book was due to my personal interest in Tibetan Buddhism & Mandala's, Bon culture and also a long and ongoing desire to visit Lake Manasarovar at some point before I die.
I enjoyed the focus of the book being about the landscape and its references to Tibet's culture and beliefs and it has helped me realise that if I am to go, I should study even more beforehand so I can really SEE the symbolism surrounding Mount Kailas.
A previous reviewer didn't like the lack of human relationship in the book, but for me this was liberating - I often get put off going to a place when a travel book focuses on connecting with the locals - this doesn't really happen much for the passer by and when it does it is a deep shared moment often made lightweight when shared in the pages of such a spiritual landscape.
I think the journey in this book reflects well the understanding that all things are transient. I also felt the author seeing the amplification of beauty within landscape that one can only experience if or when one has lost a parent, sibling or partner. A beautiful inspiring book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Got boring fast
A book I was looking forward to reading. Turned out that it got boring fast and I never finished it.
Published 7 days ago by Kevin Lawler
5.0 out of 5 stars book arrived promptly.
The book To a mountain in Tibet arrived promptly and has now been read and thoroughly enjoyed and will be again in the future,thank you.
Published 1 month ago by olly47
4.0 out of 5 stars tibet
This is an interesting travelogus of a journey from an airfield at Simikot (western Nepal) to Mount Kailas (21,778 feet) in Tibet. Read more
Published 1 month ago by G. I. Forbes
1.0 out of 5 stars Great travel writing
Another sensitive, well written journey which I thoroughly enjoyed reading from one of the best travel writers I have come across.
Published 4 months ago by Jane Lee-Oulton
5.0 out of 5 stars Reflections on a pilgrimage
Beautifully written an evocative account of a journey to a mountain held sacred by many. Thubron is making his own pilgrimage whilst reflecting on the beliefs that lead others to... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Wells
5.0 out of 5 stars My kind of book
I thoroughly enjoyed this engaging book, it swept me on my dreams of travelling to Tibet and experiencing the special culture of the people and the land.
Published 7 months ago by Santamana
3.0 out of 5 stars Not really what other reviews said
I read a raving review of this book and on that basis suggested it for our book club. In a way it is so cleverly written that at times after having read a sentence, I was not... Read more
Published 7 months ago by E H H Cull
5.0 out of 5 stars Compulsive reading for all mountain- and Tibet-lovers
This is travel writing of a high order and anyone who has been in or near this part of the world will relish what amounts to a pilgrimage. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mr. A. J. Downs
4.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant travel story.
Brilliant. The mystery and spirituality of Tibet is captured in his original prose. To my mind he is the greatest living travel writer. A joy to read.
Published 13 months ago by Anna O'Donoghue
2.0 out of 5 stars Not to my taste
This was my first Colin Thubron book, selected by my book club.I began with enthusiasm which waned very quickly. Read more
Published 15 months ago by mrs jill harris
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