The War is in the Mountains

The War is in the Mountains
Violence in the World’s High Places
Judith Matloff
Price: £
  • Hardback
20 Apr 2017
  • Economics, Politics & Current Affairs
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Veteran war correspondent Judith Matloff travels to remote mountain communities across the globe, from Afghanistan to Colombia and from Chechnya to Kashmir, to investigate why so many conflicts occur at great heights. 

Mountainous regions are home to only ten per cent of the world’s population, yet are host to a strikingly disproportionate share of the Earth’s conflicts. They provide a natural refuge, and their remoteness has allowed archaic practices to persist. The result is a combustible mix which we cannot afford to ignore. Travelling to conflict zones around the world, Matloff introduces us to Albanian teenagers involved in ancient blood feuds; Mexican peasants hunting down violent poppy growers; and Jihadists who have resisted the Russian military for decades. At every stop, she reminds us that we are all affected by the terrorism, drugs and instability that cascade down the mountainside. A work of political travel writing in the vein of Ryszard Kapuscinski and Robert Kaplan, The War is in the Mountains is an indelible portrait of the conflicts that have unexpectedly shaped our world.

JUDITH MATLOFF teaches conflict reporting at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications including the Economist and the New York Times Magazine.

With 10 black-and-white maps.

Read an extract here


'Matloff's book is an indefatigable journalistic exploration of how mountains shape, sustain, and even determine war and culture around the world. Her argument, which her reporting makes undeniable, is at once obvious and original' Robert D. Kaplan, author of The Revenge of Geography  

'Matloff has delivered a vital, deeply revealing book of political travelogue and intrepid correspondence. She is the ideal witness - learned, dogged, skeptical, but always listening out for new and credible voices. This is classical international journalism of the highest order' Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars

'A brave, engaging, keenly observant guide–rides shuddering buses, boards decrepit helicopters, and hikes through mud and checkpoints in pursuit of answers and solution... reveals the rich, surprising, and perplexing life of places too often diminished by the flat imagery of war' Sheri Fink, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Five Days at Memorial and War Hospital

'A political geography of mountains, once the haunt of witches, now-in many parts of the world-strongholds of outlaws and rebels, told with a sense of drama by someone who has clearly done her fieldwork' Yi-Fu Tuan, author of Romantic Geography

'Vistas, vainglory, vengeance and violence mark Judith Matloff’s engaging voyage across mountainous terrains. She reports with empathy on religious charities, anthropologists, guerrillas, and state armies all attempting to pacify some of the world’s least governed spaces' David D. Laitin, professor of political science at Stanford University, author of Nations, States and Violence

'Fascinating… in the great tradition of political travel writing of Ryszard Kauscinski and Robert Kaplan’ The Hindu

‘Impressive… an important book...essential reading.' Nudge Books

‘A fascinating examination of why the world’s mountainous regions are home to so much discord.’ Military History Monthly

'A fascinating, informative and compassionate tour of some of the more scenic and rarefied trouble spots.'  TLS


‘Matloff is a writing pro, sprightly and thorough in her characterizations’ Publishers Weekly

‘Matloff’s sense of humor, clear reportage and zest for adventure never fails’ Bob Drogin, author of Curveball

Judith Matloff

About Judith Matloff

Judith Matloff is a Harvard graduate and teaches conflict reporting at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, the Economist and the Financial Times. Matloff has pioneered safety training for journalists around the world, advising various international organisations including the Dart Center and International News Safety Institute. She has won several fellowships, including a Fulbright and MacArthur, and is the author of Fragments of a Forgotten War and Home Girl.