Book Review – Himalaya

Michael Palin recounts his six month journey along the length of the highest mountains in the world in Himalaya. Told with amiable intelligence and a discerning wit, his descriptions of people, places, and experiences are evocative and interesting. The Himalayas are a divisive element of geography, separating many different cultures, religions, and customs with its rocky barrier. Palin is able to bring those differences to life, even within the short capsule presentation of the book.

Palin’s talent as a writer lies in his ability to describe the culture through the individual, giving valuable insight into how the tribe, family, nation, or monastery lives through his interaction with one person. His warm and gentle tone makes for pleasant reading, and he has both a deep capacity for self-deprecation and a kind eye that doesn’t shy away from truthful reporting of bad political situations, squalor, crowding, and danger along the way.

The book is accentuated by beautiful photography from Basil Pao. Four different sections of full-color pictures show Palin’s travels from start to finish. Even more photographs are available on Palin’s website. Pao is very adept at capturing both light and expression.

I enjoyed Himalaya a great deal, and will definitely read more of K-K-K-Ken’s, I mean Mr. Palin’s, travel writings.

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