Vanished Kingdoms: A Woman Explorer in Tibet, China, and Mongolia, 1921-1925

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Vanished Kingdoms: A Woman Explorer in Tibet, China, and Mongolia, 1921-1925

By Mabel H. Cabot
Aperture, 2003
192 pp. $35.00
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This remarkable book tells the story of an intrepid female explorer, Janet Elliot Wulsin, and her scientist husband Fredrick Wulsin, who traveled to the far reaches of China, Mongolia, and Tibet to study the people and record the unique natural and cultural history of the region. Their expedition took place from 1921 to 1925, during the chaotic and dangerous warlord period, but this book was not conceived until 1975 when the Wulsins' daughter, Mabel Cabot, discovered documents of the journey in Harvard University's Peabody Museum. From this treasure trove of personal letters, diaries, and rare photographs, Cabot has skillfully woven an exciting, beautifully written, and richly produced travelogue of considerable historical significance. She not only provides matchless insight into a little-known period of Chinese history but also draws her mother from the shadows as a great female explorer in her own right, worthy to join the ranks of Alexandra David-Kneel, Isabella Bird Bishop, and Arlene Blum.

Audrey Ronning Topping