Murder in the High Himalaya (Green)

Book Reviews
At the heart of Jonathan Green's new book is an ugly encounter that underscores both China's barbarous treatment of Tibetans and the West's confused, thin-blooded response to it. In September 2006 Chinese border guards shot dead a 17-year old nun, Kelsang Namtso, in front of dozens of international mountaineers on a pass between Nepal and Tibet. A Romanian climber filmed the killing, which was broadcast around the world.... "They are shooting them like dogs," said the Romanian, as he filmed. Namtso's murder presented the mountaineers with a problem. Some guides wanted to prevent news of the incident from leaving camp as they feared the Chinese would retaliate by banning them from the mountain. Against heated squabbling, though, several climbers contacted the media and the murder made international headlines. By personalising Namtso's life and death, Mr Green has conjured in the flesh an otherwise anonymous figure from Tibet's shadows.
Economist (June 2010)


 A word is missing from the subtitle of Jonathan Green's shocking exposé: cowardice. It shines out of his story of the murder of the 17-year-old Tibetan nun, Kelsang Namtso.... At least 100 foreign climbers and their Western guides saw the entire event. Almost all of them, including the guides, ignored Kelsang lying in the snow, and the wounded Tibetans begging for help, and either continued their climbs or came down from the base camp, determined to keep silent about what they had witnessed. Entrepreneurs were terrified that the Chinese would shut down the lucrative climbing business. Although the author includes information about Tibet past and present that many readers will find useful, the core of this book is Kelsang's murder and its implications, which Green, an experienced journalist, recounts vividly and with scrupulous attention to evidence.... The Chinese might have got away with this lie. But a Romanian journalist climber, Sergiu Matei, had risked filming the murder of Kelsang. His footage was shown on Romanian television, and soon BBC and CNN were broadcasting it internationally.... [Green] shows himself to be a first-class reporter who managed to speak to Tibetan survivors of the ill- fated trip as well as to Western witnesses. He reserves his greatest admiration for the two best friends, Dolma, who survived and spoke to Green, and Kelsang, who died alone in the snow. The girls were determined to escape from Tibet at all costs, meet the Dalai Lama, and "untainted by the great evil of our age, cynicism," which afflicts so many doing business with China, tell the world what they knew.
Spectator
(July 2010)



Getting the Dalai Lama to write the foreword to your book won't do it any harm, but then the story contained within Jonathan Green's Murder in the High Himalaya deserves all the attention it can get. In 2006, a young Tibetan nun was shot dead by Chinese border guards near Mount Everest as she was fleeing persecution along with a group of fellow countrymen and women. In this lucid and penetrating account, investigative journalist Jonathan Green delves into the background of the story and the events leading up to it, exposing the terrible persecution endemic in the so-called 'roof of the world.' Rich in detail yet precise and clear-eyed, it is a formidable piece of social reporting.
The Big Issue


On September 30, 2006, a 17-year-old nun named Kelsang Namtso was murdered by Chinese border guards as she tried to escape Chinese-occupied Tibet. The torture and outright slaughter of Tibetans by the Chinese has been well-documented by various human-rights organizations, but this time...dozens of Western climbers witnessed the act. Their moral dilemma was patent—tell the world and risk being banned from Tibet, or keep quite. Incredibly, in an age where every basecamp has e-mail, most climbers remained silent. Jonathan Green, whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Men's Journal and Esquire, deftly recounts the stories of American climbing guide Luis Benitez (the first climber to speak out about the murder) and Namtso's best friend, Dolma, as they wrestle with their consciences, decide to bear witness and pay a great price. Some in the community of high-altitude guides ostracized Benitez, claiming he was placing a desire for fame above his responsibility to his clients. Subsequently, Benitez lost his income, profession and second family. Dolma could be exiled from her homeland for life. Green's accounts of the politics of high-altitude guiding are meticulously researched, balanced and riveting, and offer climbers a rare view of the booming business and internecine struggles at the top of the world. If you care about the ethics of mountaineering in the 21st century and the incredibly rich, threatened culture of Tibet, you simply must read this book.
Rock and Ice (May 2010)


Jonathan Green has meticulously reconstructed events surrounding Kelsang’s life and death. His well-written account will hook readers from the first page... Despite the obstacles he encountered, Green has written an absorbing adventure story about a forbidding mountain range and a band of refugees who risked everything to reach the Dalai Lama, who continues to lead a campaign to publicize the plight of the Tibetan people.
Palm Beach Arts Paper (September 2010)


Jonathan Green's descriptions of the scenery of the High Plateau are breathtaking, even on the page—a region of 46,000 glaciers, "the biggest ice fields outside of the Arctic and Antarctic"; "forests of juniper, oak, ash, spruce, cypress, and jungles of rhododendron"; a "vast wilderness" full of snow leopards and Tibetan Blue Bear, monkeys and red pandas, giant griffon vultures and golden eagles. In this landscape the bullets of the Chinese soldiers reverberate. "The bright snow mushroomed into a brilliant red stain around her body," Green writes of the shooting. "She was minutes from the border."
Los Angeles Times (July 2010)


A thrilling investigation into the 2006 murder of a Tibetan nun who tried to flee to India, witnessed by her best friend. Investigative journalist Jonathan Green spent three years tracking down what happened to 17-year-old Kelsang Namtso, a Tibetan nun who was killed by Chinese border guards while she attempted to flee to India, and the result of his findings are brilliantly told in Murder in the High Himalaya: Loyalty, Tragedy and Escape From Tibet. This captivating account follows Namtso on her journey with her best friend through a secret glacial path that is well-known to elite mountaineers, but forbidden for refugees fleeing China. Her murder by the Chinese border guards was caught on film by Western climbers, but they were faced with the question: Should they report the murder and never be allowed to climb in China again? Some risked talking to Green, who was partially funded by the Fund for Investigative Journalism and Investigative Reporters and Editors.
Daily Beast (June 2010)


On Sept. 30, 2006, Chinese border troops opened fire on a group of Tibetans trying to escape their occupied land over the icy Nangpa La pass at Cho Oyu Mountain, the world’s sixth-tallest peak. One refugee was killed, a 17-year-old Buddhist nun named Kelsang Namtso, shot in the back only moments away from the top of the pass and safety in Nepal. There are about 30 shooting incidents a year, barely noticed in the West, at the border. But there was something different about this one: it took place in full view of dozens of Western mountain climbers, some of whom captured it on film.... And thereby hangs a tale, spun wonderfully in Green’s morally ambiguous account.... Despite their satellite connections, at first no news leaked out from the climbers. They had a lot at stake: money, ego, safety and, for some—but not all—their souls.... Who spoke out and who did not, and why, is at the heart of one of the most unsettling books of recent years.
McCleans


On September 30, 2006, near Cho Oyu mountain in the high Himalaya, Chinese border guards opened fire on a group of Tibetans attempting to flee to Nepal via the Nanga La, a mountain path popular as an escape route. Many of those in the group died.... [Green interviewed] a large number of surviving witnesses, including Tibetan refugees, sherpas, Western mountaineers and a Romanian documentary maker who captured the horrifying incident on film....  At the center of Green's gripping story stand Dolma Palkyi and Dolkar Tsomo and their determination to journey to Dharamsala to meet the exiled Dalai Lama. Off to one side are the mountaineers who witness atrocities but remain stonily silent (Green asserts that many don't want to endanger future access to the mountains by alienating Chinese authorities). In the end, distressing moral dilemmas of our time emerge from this tale of religious pilgrims gunned down on an icy mountain path within view of self-absorbed climbers thinking only of their next summit.
John McFarland - Shelf Awareness
   

A shattering tale that will appeal to readers of all things about Tibet, mountaineering, human rights and the preservation of cultural integrity.
Shelf Awareness


A gripping take of routine murder that would have gone unreported but for the fact that a group of Western climbers were silent witnesses to the killing of a young Tibetan woman attempting to cross the border into India. Jonathan Green has travelled to the region to research the story, he’s interviewed witnesses, other refugees and even the Dalai Lama to tell this shocking and complicated story of how Chinese border guards, instructed to protect the border at any cost, will shoot to kill.
Bookseller - Ones to Watch (April 2010)


The cold-blooded slaying of a runaway Tibetan teenager ignites worldwide concern about the violent oppression at “the roof of the world. For three years, American journalist Green travelled to remote sections of [the Himalaya] to investigate the murder of a young nun who died at the hands of Chinese border officials.... As a spiritual exile from communism, Kelsang [Namtso] realized she was now a target of the aggressive Chinese government and must flee for her life. Green injects Kelsang and Dolma [Palkyi]’s great escape with anxious tension.... “Minutes from the border,” Kelsang was mercilessly shot by patrol guards, and the scene was observed by senior Everest mountaineer Luis Benitez, who was concurrently guiding a group nearby. China’s relentless campaign of obfuscation and blamelessness ensued, and Tibetans continued to flee, unabated by the violence. Green’s steely, factually dense analysis of this unlawful conspiracy sheds light on a perennial human-rights crisis.
Kirkus Reviews

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