Charles Allen presents the real story of the Younghusband Mission. In doing so, he reveals not only the true character of one of Britain's great imperial heroes but also the calamitous outcome for the Tibetan people of Britain's last attempt at empire-building.
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: In December 1903 a British army marched over the Himalayas to counter a non-existent Russian threat and was confronted by a medieval Tibetan army ordered to stop it by non-violent means. It was a clash between the mightiest political power in the world and the weakest: a land of mystery locked behind the most formidable natural barriers on earth and governed by a reincarnate lama. Leading what was supposed to be a peaceful political mission was the charismatic Francis Younghusband. At his side, a group of young officers who were as eager as he to be the first Europeans in almost a century to reach Lhasa: to gaze, as one of their number put it, 'with awe upon the temples and palaces of the long-sealed Forbidden City'. But commanding the army escort was an officer determined to do things by the book: General James Macdonald, known to his troops as 'Retiring Mac'. The result was conflict at every level, with a tragic outcome that both enthralled and shocked the outside world. Drawing on diaries, letters and unpublished first-hand accounts, Charles Allen overturns this accepted view, presenting the real story of what became known to history as the Younghusband Mission.In doing so, he reveals not only the true character of one of Britain's great imperial heroes but also the calamitous outcome for the Tibetan people of Britain's last attempt at empire-building.