Invading Tibet


215 pages
ISBN 0-394-22195-8
DDC C813'.54




Reviewed by Les Harding

Les Harding is Reference Librarian at the University of Waterloo.


Here is a book that goes against all conventional publishing wisdom. It
has no romantic subplot, no sex, no four-letter words, no neo-Nazis,
little violence, lots of talk and philosophizing, and not much action;
yet it works, and it works splendidly.

The story is about a Montreal-based writer researching the story of his
English ancestor, Edmund Candler, who was a foreign correspondent
attached to the Younghusband expedition of 1904. The Younghusband
expedition was a late imperialistic folly, a pointless military
intervention into Tibet, justified by some trumped-up diplomatic slight.

I was halfway through the book before I realized that the title is
meant to be understood on two levels. On the first level, the title is a
conventional reference to the British launching an invasion of the
mountain kingdom of Tibet from their base in India. But on the second
level, it is Tibet that is doing the invading. Tibet invades the mind
and soul of Edmund Candler. The deeper Candler journeys into the
mountain fastnesses, and the deeper his Canadian descendant delves into
Candler’s story, the more they are both “invaded” by Tibet’s
mysticism and profound spirituality.

Invading Tibet is not a long book, but it deserves to be read slowly,
the better to savor the rich descriptive passages and to ponder the
parallel spiritual journeys made by Candler and his descendant.


Frutkin, Mark., “Invading Tibet,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 16, 2024,