THE ALPS by Stephen O’Shea

  • Written by  Jules Stewart
  • Published in Books
THE ALPS by Stephen O’Shea
08 May
2017
Veteran traveller Stephen O’Shea takes the reader on a delightful 500-mile historical romp through the Alps

Each year, tens of thousands of holidaymakers travel to the Alps. Few give much thought to the strategic role these mountains have played in history, as a great and sometimes insurmountable barrier between northern and southern Europe. O’Shea follows in the footsteps of adventurers and warriors – despite his acknowledged fear of heights – starting eastward from Lake Geneva to Trieste, taking a 500-mile arc in which he concentrates on the high passes rather than the mountain peaks on his journey through 2,000 years of history.

The narrative brings to life a diverse panoply of characters, real and imaginary, who have been linked to this snow-capped realm – Hannibal, Heidi, Sherlock Holmes, Edward Whymper, James Bond and Frankenstein’s monster, to name a few. O’Shea confesses that on starting out, he did not realise the Alps had a story to tell beyond their physical bounds. The cultural and linguistic diversity of the range persists today as in centuries past, thanks to the great walls of snow and rock rising between communities. ‘Fourteen million people live in the Alps,’ he writes, ‘and many of them cannot talk to one another, so great are the language barriers created by the mountains.’

Throughout his journey, O’Shea immerses himself in the communities he visits, engagingly recounting his adventures with watchmakers, road trippers, salt miners, cable-car operators, and yodellers. It is well worth making space in the rucksack for this on your next Alpine holiday.

Click here to purchase The Alps by Stephen O'Shea

Share this story...

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter

Geographical Week

Get the best of Geographical delivered straight to your inbox every Friday.

Subscribe Today

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth UniversityUniversity of GreenwichThe University of Winchester

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • The Air That We Breathe
    Cities the world over are struggling to improve air quality as scandals surrounding diesel car emissions come to light and the huge health costs of po...
    The Nuclear Power Struggle
    The UK appears to be embracing nuclear, a huge U-turn on government policy from just two years ago. Yet this seems to be going against the grain globa...
    Diabetes: The World at Risk
    Diabetes is often thought of as a ‘western’ problem, one linked to the developed world’s overindulgence in fatty foods and chronic lack of physi...
    National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    REDD+ or Dead?
    The UN-backed REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) scheme, under which developing nations would be paid not to cut dow...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - follow Geographical

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Books

The dreadful pandemic of 1918, writes Laura Spinney, ‘engulfed the…

Books

Those of us who enjoy good travel writing know that…

Books

‘I look around me and I see a world populated…

Books

Convergence has long been a talking point within evolutionary science.…

Books

At its core, Thomas’ book is about a big hole…

Books

I’m not sure how much of a market there is…

Books

Watling Street connects Dover to Anglesey. Once a meandering track,…

Films

An epic journey alongside the nomadic crew of the Infinity…

Films

Vice President and climate action advocate Al Gore returns with…

Films

A new Netflix documentary investigates the dire state of the…

Books

After two years, you’d probably think it nigh on impossible…

Books

Not for intrepid travel writer Norman Lewis the melancholy tea…

Books

Twenty-year-old Nigel Halleck – Kief Hillsbery’s many-times removed uncle –…

Books

Jason Hickel’s bold book is full of stark facts and…

Books

Bridges are more than just a means of connection, writes…

Exhibitions

A wildlife exhibition in central London is displaying huge artworks…

Reviews

Exploring ancient Japan in a serene game of tactical beauty

Exhibitions

With a blue whale skeleton due to be unveiled in…