The High Road to China: George Bogle, the Panchen Lama, and the First British Expedition to Tibet

Kate Teltscher, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $25 (316p) ISBN 978-0-374-21700-6

In 1774 Warren Hastings, the head of the British East India Company in India, received a letter from the Panchen Lama, the revered head of the Tibetan government, and immediately saw a new and rich market and, more importantly, a possible "entrance for British goods into the immense Chinese market." And British writer Teltscher (India Inscribed ) wonderfully tells the journey of Hastings's Scottish envoy, George Bogle, to Tibet to meet with the Lama, and the Lama's subsequent journey to China to meet with Emperor Qianlong. Mixing quotations from Bogle's journals with lively prose, she creates an academic yet dynamic account of two cultures meeting for the first time. While working to persuade the Lama to trade with the British, Bogle became captivated by Tibet, finding the simple mountain culture similar to his Highland life. In the Lama he finds a genuine friend with a hungry mind willing to discuss "world politics and geography, European science, technology and culture about stars and watches and crocodiles." While presenting a bittersweet tale of friendship between two strong yet completely different souls, Teltscher also manages to pull the veil back on the historical connection between Tibet and China that remains noteworthy to the present day. Illus. throughout. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 12/18/2006
Release date: 02/01/2007
Paperback - 316 pages - 978-0-8101-2495-0
Hardcover - 336 pages - 978-0-7475-8484-1
Paperback - 316 pages - 978-0-7475-8547-3
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