The British invasion of Tibet in 1904 is one of the strangest events in British imperial history. Conceived by Lord Curzon as a strategic move in the Great Game - that colossal struggle between imperial Britain and Tsarist Russia for influence in Central Asia - the incursion was in fact ill-conceived and inspired by only the weakest of motivations. Led by the soldier, explorer and mystic, Francis Younghusband, the mission - doomed from the very beginning - became caught in political cross-fire and the distant and destructive machinations of China and Britain and ended in ignominy and disappointment for this idealistic adventurer. Peter Fleming's gripping portrayal of this curious episode and its charismatic protagonists brilliantly illuminates what is now seen as a key moment in the Great Game, the repercussions of which continue to be felt throughout the region.
Peter Fleming, OBE, (1907-1971) was a journalist and writer and one of the great travel writers of the twentieth century. He began his career as a special correspondent with The Times and later wrote for The Spectator. He served with the Grenadier Guards during the Second World War and from 1942 was in charge of military deception operations in Southeast Asia. He is author of several classic books, which include Brazilian Adventure, To Peking (The Peter Fleming Collection, Tauris Parke Paperbacks), One's Company and News from Tartary. Later he wrote accounts of historical events in lands through which he had travelled, namely The Siege at Peking, Bayonets to Lhasa and The Fate of Admiral Kolchak. In his memory, The Royal Geographical Society established The Peter Fleming Award for projects that seek to advance geographical science.