Saturday, 2 June 2007

Holiday Reading 3: Heinrich Herrer.

Seven Years In Tibet by Heinrich Harrer is a fascinating read.
(There's a 1997 film which received mixed reviews. ) The book tells the story of how Austrians Heinrich Harrer and Peter Aufschnaiter were imprisoned as enemy aliens by the British while part of a German expedition to Nanga Parat in the Himalayas, in present-day Pakistan, in summer 1939. Harrer and Aufschnaiter escaped and made it across the border into Tibet in 1944, crossing the treacherous high plateau, surviving conditions of the utmost severity. Shortly after arriving in Tibet, they were ordered to return to India but were able to disguise themselves, and make their way to Lhasa. Harrer became a tutor and close friend of the Dalai Lama, who was then still a boy of fourteen. The first part of the book, recounting the perilous journey across Tibet, is an adventure story to thrill any would-be explorer, while Harrer's observation of Lhasa at that time, seen from his Westerner's viewpoint, is a unique record of life in the Forbidden City before the Chinese Communist invasion of 1950.
For an excellent review of the book see
Harrer, who remained friends with the Dalai Lama for the rest of his life, died aged 93 in 2006.
For a succinct account of Harrer's life, see the Guardian obituary:


billo said...

the film isn't that good. Brad Pitt, what do you expect? I liked Kundun much better.
Have you read Marco Pallis: the Way and the Mountain?

Celia said...

Ah, thought as much! Thanks for letting me know so I can cross it off my list of Films To See! No, haven't read that book. But have you read Harrer yourself?

billo said...

No, can't say I have. After watching the film I wasn't that inclined to either.
After reading your blog though: "I know I can't cross it off my list of books to read".