U.S. Edition U.K. Edition

Mountainous regions are home to only ten percent of the world's population yet host a strikingly disproportionate share of the world's conflicts. Mountains provide a natural refuge for those who want to elude authority, and their remoteness has allowed archaic practices to persist well into our globalized era.

The result is a combustible mix that those in the lowlands cannot afford to ignore. Traveling to conflict zones across 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, Matloff reminds us that the drugs, terrorism, and instability cascading down the mountainside affect us all.


"…an indefatigable journalistic exploration…. at once obvious and original."

Robert D. Kaplan, author of "The Revenge of Geography"

"This is classical international journalism of the highest order."

Steve Coll, dean of the Columbia Graduate School and staff writer for The New Yorker

"A fascinating, informative and compassionate tour of some of the world's more scenic and rarefied trouble spots....Matloff is a skilled and courageous journalist adept at sketching the realities."

Times Literary Supplement
(full review)

"…brave, engaging, keenly observant”"

Sheri Fink, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Five Days at Memorial and War Hospital

"Impressive and necessary… Matloff approaches her topic with a magic combination of wisdom and empathy, and it is impossible to not be moved."

Starred Review, Booklist

"Matloff brings an impressive sensitivity to the genius loci embraced by mountain people....She has a point, and she delivers it with plangency."

Peter Lewis, The Christian Science Monitor

"chillingly enlightening"

Geographical Magazine (UK)

"…told with a sense of drama by someone who has clearly done her fieldwork."

Yi-Fu Tuan, author of Romantic Geography

"A worthy read for foreign affairs and anthropology buffs alike….provides insight into current global affairs."

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"Engaging…She reports with empathy on…. some of the world’s least governed spaces."

David D. Laitin , professor of political science at Stanford University and author of Nations, States and Violence.

"a sobering…tightly focused study of mountain societies that hints at future conflicts."

Kirkus Reviews

"her accounts of perilous trips into hot zones are akin to an adventure novel...an essential work on the fundamentals of high-altitude warfare"

Shelf Awareness, March 2017


History of War Magazine