Spy on the Roof of the World

Sydney Wignall, Author Lyons and Burford Publishers $25 (288p) ISBN 978-1-55821-558-0
While organizing a Himalayan expedition in 1955 to climb Tibet's highest peak, Welsh mountaineer Wignall was recruited as a spy by India's secret service. This exhilarating account of his espionage, arrest by Chinese communists, several weeks' imprisonment in a rat-infested Tibetan jail and harrowing escape over a never-before-scaled Himalayan gorge is at once a thrilling real-life spy tale, a serendipitous adventure and an ethnographic travelogue. It is laced with intrigue, close escapes from death, breathtaking vistas and affectionate observations of the Tibetan people surviving under draconian Chinese rule. Wignall, who displays acerbic wit and a flair for storytelling, obtained proof of China's Tibetan military buildup for an attack on India-intelligence ignored by India's Prime Minister Nehru, who befriended the supposedly ""anti-imperialist"" Mao Tse-tung until China's invasion of northern India in 1962. In prison, Wignall endured solitary confinement and kept a diary that he hid in an inflatable mattress. Decked with sketches from his trek-a mission he was prohibited from divulging for 25 years-his book condemns the West for allowing China's cultural and physical genocide of Tibet. He notes ominously that China is now building a strategic highway to Nepal-an easy means for a future invasion that would give Chinese troops direct access to India. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/03/1997
Release date: 03/01/1997
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 288 pages - 978-1-58574-069-7
Hardcover - 267 pages - 978-0-7881-6099-8
Hardcover - 277 pages - 978-1-84195-046-4
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