White as the Shroud
India, Pakistan and War on the Frontiers of Kashmir
A first-hand account of the bitterly fought wars for control over some of the world’s highest borders.
Between South and Central Asia, in the high mountains and cold deserts, India, Pakistan and China have fought brutal wars over barren, uninhabited territory in a bid for control over their national peripheries, including Xinjiang and Tibet in China, and Jammu and Kashmir on the Indian subcontinent.
White as the Shroud explores this broader story through the most surreal of such conflicts: the Siachen war, fought between India and Pakistan for control of the eponymous glacier. The tale of Siachen highlights the absurdity of seeking hard borders in such desolate mountains, as well as the brutality of high-altitude warfare—more soldiers were killed by the weather and terrain than by the fighting.
As one of the few people to have visited both sides of the glacier, Indian and Pakistani, Myra MacDonald provides a first-hand view of the battlefield and a wealth of eyewitness testimony from combatants. She sets this account in the overarching narrative of the Kashmir conflict, India’s defeat by China in 1962, and the 1999 India-Pakistan Kargil war. White as the Shroud brings a fresh perspective to one of the most volatile corners of the world, raising questions about borders and the wars fought to defend them.
‘This region is one of the world’s most volatile flashpoints, where three nuclear powers persistently confront each other. MacDonald has penned a definitive tour de force, helping us to better understand the terrain and region—and why it’s so dangerous.’ — Vipin Narang, Associate Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
‘Myra MacDonald’s narrative about the inhumane and pitiless battlefields in, or involving, disputed Jammu and Kashmir is engrossing. Her highly informative book is invaluable for anyone wanting to understand the dangers and futilities of these heavily militarised and contested areas.’ — Christopher Snedden, author of Understanding Kashmir and Kashmiris
‘This essential and hard-hitting book unpacks India and Pakistan’s military contest over remote heights not meant for human survival. Based on extensive travels and immense sensitivity to the human condition at Siachen, MacDonald reminds us how confusing and nebulous such borders truly are.’ — Avinash Paliwal, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, SOAS University of London
‘A searching analysis of a little-known war in the Himalayan glaciers. MacDonald’s fresh perspective shows how the national ambitions of India, Pakistan, and China have prolonged a bloody and absurd conflict for more than three decades.’ — Farzana Shaikh, author of Making Sense of Pakistan
Myra MacDonald is a journalist and author specialising in South Asian politics and security. She was a correspondent for Reuters for nearly thirty years and is the author of the acclaimed Defeat is an Orphan: How Pakistan Lost the Great South Asian War, also published by Hurst.