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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb account of the race for Lhasa
This is a cracking account by Peter Hopkirk of the Western race for Lhasa in the 19th & early 20th centuries.
Some of the other customer reviews have been luke-warm about the book, but in its defence it is not a book about Tibet, Tibetans or religion - it is exactly what it claims to be, i.e. a series of fascinating stories of western adventurers (plus one Japanese!)...
Published on 19 April 2004

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7 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One sided
A collection of individual tales of the attempts to reach Lhasa the book moves at a good pace, reading like a 'boys own' adventure. Unfortunately Hopkirk demonstrates a clear lack of understanding of the Buddhism of Tibet and fails to reflect this in his narration. There appears to have been no effort to establish the Tibetan view of the various attempts to enter Lhasa...
Published on 17 July 2003 by Alistair


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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb account of the race for Lhasa, 19 April 2004
By A Customer
This is a cracking account by Peter Hopkirk of the Western race for Lhasa in the 19th & early 20th centuries.
Some of the other customer reviews have been luke-warm about the book, but in its defence it is not a book about Tibet, Tibetans or religion - it is exactly what it claims to be, i.e. a series of fascinating stories of western adventurers (plus one Japanese!) told to different levels of detail depending on the merits and information available of each adventurer's journey.
I have to say that I am a big Peter Hopkirk fan so I must disclose my obvious bias here. However, for those that are familiar with some of his other works, I would rate this book alongside his 'The Great Game' and I found that, as a read, it flowed even better than his (very good) works 'Setting the East Ablaze' and 'On Secret Service East of Constantinople'.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tiptoe to Tibet, 22 Dec. 2009
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Gs-trentham - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Race for Lhasa (Paperback)
For centuries Tibet was the innermost core of one of the most inaccessible, and therefore most mysterious, places on earth. The country was ringed by mountains and protected by sub-zero temperatures. There was Everest (and possibly an even higher peak). There was Lhasa with its "golden domes like tongues of fire" and its Potala palace of a thousand rooms rising into the clouds from a sheer rock face. There was Tibetan Buddhism which could instal a Dalai Lama from the cradle. Small wonder that the brave and the curious wished to see for themselves.

Stripped to basics, these are adventure stories: Somerset Maugham meets John Buchan. But in detail they are revealed often as accounts of immense courage in overwhelmingly forbidding circumstances, sometimes of almost unbelievable foolhardiness. Remarkably but perhaps not surprisingly, virtually everyone who made the attempt wrote about it afterwards. Hopkirk has read the books, feretted among the official archives, travelled the area himself. The narrative is vivid and anecdotal but there is enough political and historical background to establish context. If the voice is the voice of Empire it is at least authentic.

The reservation of other readers that this book does not look at the trespassers from the point of view of the Tibetans would only be valid if the author had set out to provide a rounded account. But that is matter for other writers with other perspectives. Peter Hopkirk unashamedly sets out to tell the many stories of those who attempted - and mostly failed - to penetrate the forbidden kingdom in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant as ever, 31 Dec. 2007
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M. J. Harris (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Race for Lhasa (Paperback)
Hopkirk has made Central Asia his area of authority and his books on the subject (especially The Great Game) are all superb. He tells the real stories behind such novels as George McDonald Fraser's Flashman series in a way that makes the real-life characters come alive. The subject is thrilling in a boys-own way, but the relevance of this region to modern events is in any case huge, which adds another layer of interest. This is a shortish book, and marginally not as epic as The Great Game, so gets 4*, but I would highly recommend it
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, as would be expected from Peter Hopkirk, 17 Jan. 2012
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This review is from: Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Race for Lhasa (Paperback)
I've just finished this book and can say that Peter Hopkirk knows how to engage the reader. This is history, but not the kind you might learn in the classroom. It is, however, an interesting part of the world that, although no longer closed to foreigners, remains mysterious. I was there in 1993 and fell in love with the place. Having travelled across Tibet from east to west, through 'forbidden' country I can understand just how it must have been for those early pioneers.

Peter Hopkirk manages to keep the interest up throughout the book. He relates his facts like a story unfolding and the reader just wants to keep going. It isn't written in a highbrow way, but it covers everything it aims to and Peter Hopkirk makes no apologies for skipping things he sees as being beyond the scope of the book. I have read two other of Hopkirk's books as well and now intend to read the rest.
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5.0 out of 5 stars History at it's best, 5 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Race for Lhasa (Paperback)
Peter Hopkirk is a natural storyteller. I first read his book 'The Great Game' recently published by the Folio Society and was hooked. I have always been interested in the history of the British Empire and the geo-politics of the 19th century. Having recently been to the Himalayas and seen the beauty, harshness and remoteness of this land I can understand how the intrepid 'explorers/adventurers' were obsessed in being the first to get to Lhasa. For the non academic history lover this is an excellent and informative read from an author who has a seems to have a love for Central Asia. Thoroughly recommend this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Game, 20 April 2012
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This review is from: Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Race for Lhasa (Paperback)
Peter Hopkirk is one of the few readable writers who have looked at aspect of 'The Great Game' - the contest between Britain and Russia for control of Central Asia. As one reads his works one wonders whether any of the lessons have been learned. Afghanistan is as ungovernable now as it was in the nineteenth century and, so called, 'western' powers have been humbled each and every time they have tried to subjugate its people. This book gives an interesting insight into the position of Tibet and the attitudes of the Tibetan people to 'outsiders'.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another true and exciting adventure story from this author!, 10 Dec. 2014
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Once again I thoroughly enjoyed this well researched and fascinating book by Peter Hopkirk. It's the third of his books that I have read recently since returning from a trip to Central Asia. I started with the 'Great Game' and followed that with 'Foreign Devils on the Silk Road.' These three books have all been excellent. They are well written in a way that is really exciting and the books are hard to put down as what they describe is really amazing and gripping. I can't recommend this author highly enough.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The most incredible real adventures !, 20 April 2014
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This review is from: Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Race for Lhasa (Paperback)
Historian, explorer, military historian or who ever - for anyone with a sense of right and wrong and a sense of adventure (couch or actual) and for those who enjoy cloak without dagger (but still bloodthirsty) tales of yore this amazing compilation of accounts contains such excitement and moves at such pace, the reader won't want to put it down. The need for a country's inviolation and the need of those who must violate. Factual pathos with a modicum of humour but plenty on the edge of the seat.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well written, well researched gem of a book, 23 July 2001
A chronological review of all the documented attempts to infiltrate Tibet. A fascinating insight into both Tibet and the driving politics of the time.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars from Loftus Road to Lhasa, 15 Feb. 2004
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The book was both of the reviews above, it was a one sided account of the of the attempts to reach Lhasa.But it was was well sourced and researched and although it is now a dated text, and the author did not demonstrate any empathy or understanding of Bhuddism,I enjoyed it and it has encouraged me to read other books on the subject.
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Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Race for Lhasa
Trespassers on the Roof of the World: The Race for Lhasa by Peter Hopkirk (Paperback - 27 Mar. 2006)
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