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Spy on the Roof of the World


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By Sydney Wignall

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Published by Canongate, Edinburgh, 1996, 1st UK Edition, D/w, Fine.    Sydney Wignall (1922-2012) was a British marine archaeologist, climber, explorer and spy.  In 1955, he led the Welsh Himalayan Expedition to attempt Gurla Mandhata (25,354 feet), the highest mountain lying completely within Tibet.  However, before leaving the U.K., he was recruited by Indian Military Intelligence to report on Chinese military activity in the area.  Captured by the Chinese when he crossed the Chinese border, along with his companions John Harrop and Damodar Suwal, he was subjected to harsh interrogation in appalling conditions for two months during which time he gathered significant intelligence from his captors.  The Chinese, frustrated by the lack of co-operation from Wignall and international pressure, eventually released all three but left them abandoned below one of the highest Himalayan passes which they had to cross in winter to survive – the book details their epic and harrowing journey home.  This book was published so long after the events it recalls because Wignall was prohibited from divulging his spying for at least 25 years.  The book also condemns the West for allowing China’s cultural and physical genocide of Tibet.

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Weight0.75 kg