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Himalaya [Audiobook] [Audio CD]

Michael Palin

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Book Description

Oct. 4 2004
Michael Palin reads his own entertainingly written account of his journey accross the countries of the Himalayas, accompanying a major BBC TV series in 2004. In his most challenging journey to date, Palin tackles the Himalayas, the greatest mountain range on earth. It is a virtually unbroken wall of rock stretching 1800 miles from the borders of Afghanistan to south-west China. Penetrated but never conquered, it remains the world's most majestic natural barrier, a magnificent wilderness that shapes the history and politics of Asia to this day. Having previously risen to the challenge of seas, poles, dhows and deserts, the highest mountains in the world were a natural target for Michael Palin. In a journey rarely, if ever, attempted before,in 6 months of hard travelling Palin takes on the full length of the Himalaya including the Khyber Pass, the hidden valleys of the Hindu Kush, ancient cities like Peshawar and Lahore, the mighty peaks of K2, Annapurna and Everest, the bleak and barren plateau of Tibet, the gorges of the Yangtze, the tribal lands of the Indo-Burmese border and the vast Brahmaputra delta in Bangladesh. He also passes through political flashpoints including Pakistan's remote north-west frontier, terrorist-torn Kashmir and the mountains of Nagaland.

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Review

"Witty and entertaining." -"-The New York Times "on "Full Circle""""Charming and often hilarious."--"New York Daily News" on "Full Circle""Ever affable and eclectic, Palin disarms and delights. He has an unerring eye for the bizarre. His book is sheer escapism, pure entertainment, and I love it." "-- Sunday Times" (London) on" Sahara" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Michael Palin established his reputation with Monty Python's Flying Circus and Ripping Yarns. A self-confessed dromomaniac (travel addict), he has written books to accompany his highly successful travel series, and is a regular No.1 Sunday Times bestseller. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More polished, less interesting April 27 2005
By Cybamuse - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
In the beginning when Palin first stumbled into the travel documentary genre with "Around the world in 80 days," I don't think anyone at the BBC realised what a money spinner this was going to become! So Palin's first couple of books where a real companion guide to the program - those books were HIS personal impressions including little gems of insight into the making of the show.

With Himalaya, it's like he handed over his diaries and someone else wrote them up, culling his personal observations and somehow the end result is Palin seems distant from his own diaries! Given how much he seemed to have enjoyed his romp through the Himalaya's in the DVD, you'd think the same enthusiasm would have been captured in his journal of the trip, but alas... Somehow its been blandified. A lot to references to the journey itself with a BBC crew in tow heading into politically trying areas would have made fascinating reading, but there is very little reference to it. Furthermore, there seems to be whole chunks of history dropped in as if someone thought they ought to pad out the entries with bits of historical triva. In places, this renders the book little more than just another travel novel.

Its still an interesting book, but somehow, the personal feel that existed in his first couple of travel books is missing. And having seen the show, there seems to have been more personal observations mentioned in the show than in the book! The daily entries absolutely fly by at supersonic speeds with hardly any mention of the people he is meeting - the same people which seemed to have made such an impact on him in the actual Himalaya program! In fact, the only place where the show and journals conincided was over his meeting with the Dali Lama - here at least, we learn of Palin's nervousness as the clock counts down to meeting this great man!

I still enjoyed this book, but not as much as the show or his original books and really felt it was more like reading anyone else's travel novel on the bookshelf. What made Palin different in the beginning was the insight it provided into making a program like this and he didn't dwell on historical snippets. Anyone with a bit of time, money and connections can make the journey Palin did and write about it, but few do it with a BBC crew in tow and with a Pythonesque viewpoint! That adds a whole layer of interest, humour and logistical complexity greatly downplayed in this book.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and interesting book about a fantastic trip April 17 2006
By Rennie Petersen - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"Himalaya" is a book written by Michael Palin as an alternative account of a trip that was filmed and first shown as a TV program on BBC TV. (This program has also been shown on many other TV stations, and is now available on DVD.) In addition to the text in the book there are many beautiful pictures by Basil Pao, the stills photographer who accompanied the BBC team on the trip.

This was a very interesting trip in beautiful and exciting places. Many countries around the Himalayan Mountains were visited, some of them well off the tourist track and some of them with security problems such that the team needed armed guards. Specifically, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Nagaland, Assam, Bhutan and Bangladesh were visited. A total of 3000 miles was traveled during 125 days (6 months), and many beautiful and exciting images, encounters and interviews resulted.

High points (ha, ha) of the trip include several treks on foot up into the mountains, visiting the Dalai Lama, milking a yak, talking to a retired headhunter, buying booze in Pakistan, having an almost-encounter with Maoists in Nepal, watching bull racing and no-rules polo, and giving an elephant a rub-down. There are also many interesting encounters and interviews with local people who are special in one way or another.

In my review of the DVD version of "Himalaya" I complained that the program wasn't really about Michael Palin's trip, as such, but was simply a string of encounters and events that made "good TV". The program ignored the travel aspect almost completely, and jumped from place to place in search of the images and people that the TV viewers would find exciting.

The book version of "Himalaya" is a more complete account of the trip, including a lot of material that was skipped in the TV program, and some experiences not even included in the extra material on the DVDs.

But still, the book account of the trip is not really a day-by-day account of the trip either. For example, I'd like to know what happened on "day 6" and "day 11", etc. These days are simply not mentioned in the book.

One nice thing about the book, as compared to the TV program on DVD, is that Michael Palin's personal opinions are more evident, as is his enjoyment of traveling and experiencing new people and places. There is more of a "personal touch" to the book, and his wit and charm make it very readable and enjoyable. Michael also writes candidly about the health problems he experienced and the reservations he had about travel in the places where there were security problems. All of which makes the book better than the DVD version in my opinion.

Finally, a note about the audio versions of this book. There are both abridged (6 hour) and unabridged (11 1/2 hour) versions in existence, and some resellers are selling the abridged version as unabridged, so beware. Michael Palin himself reads both versions, and he does a great job.

Highly recommended.

Rennie Petersen
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Traveller's account on 3,000 miles across Himalaya Jan. 28 2005
By Gerard Kroese - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Michael Palin became well-known through his work with Monty Python. He has also written various travel books, based on his previous travels which have been shown on British TV.

In the Introduction Palin describes how the idea for an expedition across the Himalaya was sprung while looking for a new adventure after his previous trip through Sahara. This book is a "traveller's account" and not a "mountaineer's account" of Palin & Co.'s journey through six countries and 3,000 miles of Himalaya. The journey took about 18 months of planning and about 6 months of filming/travel. "Apart from missing out some rest days and days at airports, I've presented the journey as a continuous narrative because that, in effect, is exactly what it was."

Of course certain problems were known from the outset on this highly sensitive part of the world: The British Foreign Office advises against all but essential travel to most areas; the whole Khasmir region was/is highly volatile; the Maoists in Nepal are engaged in a guerrille war with the government; the Chinese government is highly sensitive about film crews in Tibet; the Indian government has concerns about safety in Assam. On top of this, there is (still) the East/West-tension following 9/11 and the deadly SARS epidemic in China.

Palin breaks down the journey on a country-by-country basis, starting at the Khyber Pass on the Afghanistan/Pakistan-border on the western side of Himalaya, passing through Pakistan, India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Bhutan and eventually finishing at the Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh on the east side of Himalaya. Palin uses a witty, entertaining writing style to detail the adventures, findings, and observations in and of each country. He is rarely opinionated, although he sometimes places questions about lifestyles, etc. I don't want to discuss too much details in this review, but the variety of landscapes, climates, lifestyles, religions within this 3000 miles distance is astonishing. The text is accompanied by lots of beautiful photographs taken by Basil Pao.

Yes, I do like this book which accompanies the BBC-series with the same name. The book is easily readabble with lots of fantastic pictures describing this enormous journey across this bizarre area of our planet. Whether you like the TV-series or book better is a personal choice, I have also seen the series and like both. I would like to conclude the review with some words from the book: "... Himalaya was a wonderfully, magically, brilliant journey, with more gasps of astonishment per square mile than any other in my entire life. And for once, I think I might be right."
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A captivating experience, and "must-read" for anyone planning to climb dangerous or potentially fatal peaks Dec 8 2005
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Compiled from the diaries of Michael Palin's extraordinary journey, and read by the author, Himalaya is the unabridged audiobook chronicle of Palin's personal determination to climb the full length of the Himalaya including the Khyber Pass, the valleys of the Hindu Kush, the ancient cities Peshawar and Lahore, and the peaks including K2, Annapurna and Everest. Altitudes as high as 17,500 feet, some of the world's deepest gorges, and the background threat of strife in political hotspots such as terrorism-plagued Kashmir were among the many hardships and risks Palin confronted in his expedition. His story tells of natural wonders and daily life, civilizations in the shadow of a global landmark, joy and suffering in a casual, easygoing manner that will nonetheless enthrall the listener. A captivating experience, and "must-read" for anyone planning to climb dangerous or potentially fatal peaks, Himalaya is surely the next best thing to personally being there. Consisting of 9 CDs with a total running time of 11 hours 32 min, Himalayan is especially recommended for library collections.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Writing, Good Pictures, Strange Places Jan. 22 2005
By John Matlock - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is the companion book to go with the Himalaya television program beginning on the BBC on the 3rd of October. For the show, Michael Palin (Monty Python member for many years) traveled with a small photo team from one end of the Himalaya at the border of Afghanistan to southwest China, 1800 miles of the highest mountains in the world.

Six months of hard and sometimes dangerous traveling were involved. Altitudes as high as 17,500 were crossed, treks through some of the world's deepest gorges, filming was done in political flashpoints like terrorist-torn Kashmir.

This book is compiled from Palin's diaries and records the pleasure and pain of this breathtaking journey.

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