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No other land has captured man's imagination quite like Tibet. Hidden away behind the highest mountains on earth, and ruled over by a mysterious God-king, it was for centuries a land forbidden to all outsiders. In this remarkable and ultimately tragic narrative, Peter Hopkirk recounts the forcible opening up of this medieval Buddhist kingdom by inquisitive Western travellers during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the race to reach Lhasa, Tibet's sacred capital. This epic, often harrowing tale, which ends with the Chinese invasion of 1950, draws on a colourful cast of gatecrashers from nine different countries. Among them were adventurous young officers on Great Game missions, explorers and mountaineers, mystics and missionaries. All took their lives in their hands, including three intrepid women. Some were never to return.