The Throne of the Gods

Publication Year: 1940.

The Throne of the Gods, by Arnold Heim and August Gannser. Translated by Eden and Cedar Paul. 8 vo.; xxv + pp. 233, with 220 photographic illustrations and 18 sketches in the text. New York; The Macmillan Co., 1939. Price $5.00.

Heim and Gansser, two Swiss geologists have described their wanderings in Nepal, Tibet and northern India. They climbed two 20,000-ft. peaks and crossed nineteen passes over 16,000 ft., but did little difficult mountaineering. The book recounts their experiences and discoveries, the lives of men, animals and plants, not only among the crags and glaciers of the high mountains, but also on the way thither, avoiding the play of fancy by keeping strictly to data furnished by careful diaries.

Throne of the Gods is undoubtedly an unembroidered account, but the book is involved, humorless, and lacks continuity. Dramatic moments receive little more attention than unimportant details of daily routine. Good local color, as in the finding of a deserted Tibetan city, or the journey to Kailas, often needs further development. Probably the volume has suffered in translation. The pictures are often splendid, but one-fourth the number printed full-page size would be more effective.

The authors should be criticized for taking advantage of the Indian government and going through to the forbidden mountain of Kailas. Such actions penalize later expeditions. The authors, however, must be praised for their success in living on native food, and running a small, inexpensive scientific expedition. The appendices are valuable. Here one notes that October is recommended as the best month for climbing expeditions in the Himalayas. Heim and Gannser deserve credit for their important geologic discoveries, but their book lacks the success that a central purpose might have given it.

R. H. B.

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