Walking the Himalayas: An adventure of survival and endurance Paperback – 20 Oct 2016
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Britain's best-loved adventurer... he looks like a man who will stare danger in the face and soak up a lot of pain without complaint. (The Times)
In the macho, adrenaline-fuelled arena of TV adventurers, Levison Wood is that rare beast: the real deal. (Radio Times)
Wood's USP is that, unlike a great many pretenders, he is the real deal: a former paratrooper, a major in the army reserves and as hard as nails. (Telegraph)
Adventurer Levison Wood is 'bewildered' by being called a sex symbol, as a death-defying trek through the Himalayas is set to have fans' pulses racing. (Daily Mail)
Levison Wood is a great adventurer and a wonderful storyteller. (Sir Ranulph Fiennes)
From the bestselling author of Walking the Nile, explorer Levison Wood begins his next challenging adventure - walking the length of the Himalayas.See all Product description
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Walking the Himalayas is absolutely brilliant and a wonderful accompaniment to the excellent television series. Levison Wood has a wonderful talent for describing not just the places he visits but the people he meets and becomes friends with. I find him a very easy author to engage with and his books are fascinating, funny and very difficult to put down. (I have also reviewed Walking the Nile).
When I started reading the book, it got to 12:50 am in the morning before I realised how much time had passed since I had started reading it.
The first chapter, where he describes his first meeting with Binod who became his friend and later his guide on the expedition, is an excellent example of serendipity which perfectly illustrates the friendliness and caring attitude of the people that were encountered on the expedition. This set the whole tone of the book and was one of the reasons why I enjoyed it so much.
Whilst the author described the places that were visited and the difficult terrain that was encountered, what I enjoyed and found the most interesting were the people he met in these countries. The book gave me an insight into the values, religions and beliefs of these amazing people and also the challenges they faced. The author was very respectful of these people and writes about them in a very positive and engaging way.
The second chapter was very illuminating as I didn’t really know much about the author’s background, other than that he had been in the army and so it was really interesting to learn more about his formative years and what he had done before this expedition. He describes the reasons behind embarking on this expedition in a very engaging and humorous way.
The rest of the book describes the countries Levison Wood travelled through, the challenges with the terrain, the bureaucracy and also the wonderfully friendly and fascinating people he meets. I loved his descriptions of the mountains, river, forests and valleys and the photographs are excellent.
His guides were fascinating and I enjoyed learning more about their families, their background, their religious beliefs, their views on politics and also how they coped with the challenges of the expedition.
The description of the car crash was absolutely gut wrenching and emotive. Even though I knew it was coming and I had learned from a friend of the author that Levison had broken his arm, I had no idea of the background to it, or just how traumatic it was. I actually felt physically sick when I read it and really don’t know how he had the guts to continue after he had recovered from it.
I got a real surprise with how the book ended. I absolutely loved the whole passage on the last page of the book and, I admit when I finished reading it, it ended with me having tears streaming down my face but also with a huge smile. This passage was a brilliant way to end this outstanding book.
The book is far more insightful. Written, it seems, directly from the heart of the author. A deep thinking man, the descriptions of the countries and people he meets are interspersed with his own soul searching, his worries for the future and finally his realisation that one has to live in the present.
Levison Wood is a historian and I finished the book knowing far more about the featured countries. The political and cultural histories are in depth and confusing at times, but very interesting.
Lev writes many times (sometimes convincing himself I think) that the main reason for his travels is to bring awareness to those countries with historical or present difficulties, and he does this job well. I immediately want to go and visit places I had previously thought too dangerous or unsettled.
Having finished the book, half of me desperately wants to undertake another (mental) journey with Lev, to wind him up and watch him go. The other half wants to wrap him in a duvet, make him a nice cup of tea and take care of him. I don't think he'd be able to stay contained for too long though and am sure he is already plotting routes into the, if not unknown, rarely seen places of the world.
The only negative I have is that the photographs deserve much more space, and better quality printing. I would love to see more. More portraits, bigger landscapes.
Perhaps I will have to seek out his next exhibition, or wait and see if a coffee table book is published (bagsy 10% if you hadn't already thought of this)
Well done Levison Wood. It's not the journey or the destination that really matters in the end. It's who you take the journey with. And you chose your companions well.
As a reader you end up learning a lot about the history of the places that the author visits rather than just his experience of these places. It is truly fascinating to read how this region has been shaped by outsiders since the time of Alexander the Great and how the peoples now living there differ so greatly, even within the same country. It is the people that Levison meets and his descriptions of his encounters with them that make this book worth the read.
I had not seen the accompanying TV show or read the previous book, it is something that I will now be looking into.
I wanted to give it five stars, but I didn’t appreciate all those scenes about animals being slaughtered, sorry. There are too many scenes, in my humble opinion, that focus on goats being butchered and blood and more blood. Not for me. Sorry, very personal taste. A line would’ve been enough.
If these things don’t bother you, by all means, read on. You’ll give five stars to this novel.