cover image No Friends but the Mountains: Dispatches from the World’s Violent Highlands

No Friends but the Mountains: Dispatches from the World’s Violent Highlands

Judith Matloff. Basic, $28 (272p) ISBN 978-0-465-09788-3

Determined to discover why violence flourishes in high-altitude areas, war correspondent Matloff (Fragments of a Forgotten War) investigates the cultures and ongoing conflicts of mountain ranges around the globe. She travels more than 72,000 miles to compile her survey, braving the mile-high battlefields of the ongoing Colombian civil war and the deadly Indian-Pakistani dispute over Kashmir, witnessing the destitution of the indigenous populations of Nepal and Mexico, and talking her way out of trouble with Russian police in Chechnya. Interviews with American veterans who fought in the high altitudes of Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush lead her to visit an Army mountain training center in Vermont’s (relatively small) Green Mountains; this excursion results in an even more intense journey to an Arctic NATO base in Norway. To cap off her journey, she focuses on Switzerland, a largely mountainous nation that outgrew its violent history to become a bastion of democracy and peace. This trip to some very different corners of the globe is recounted in clear, visceral language; vertigo sufferers may not enjoy some of the more harrowing moments, but Matloff’s investigation is a worthy read for foreign affairs and anthropology buffs alike, and her conclusion provides insight into current global affairs. 10 maps. [em]Agent: Joy Harris, Joy Harris Literary. (Mar.) [/em]