Bringing Progress to Paradise is an adventure and trekking story with a humanistic touch. The author is an experienced climber, world-wide adventurer, and former attorney with a M. Div. who addresses the perplexing dichotomy between Capitalist-Consumer ideology and "Third World" culture and the question of whether tourism and modernization are a boon or bane to remote villages in Nepal.
Jeff first went to the Himalayas out of curiosity and returned several times as an adventurer. However since 2003, he has returned almost every year to try and give back to a country that gave so much to him. He has tried to respond to specific requests for assistance rather than trying to alleviate poverty which is a relative term.
In return they have given him the appreciation of our earth and its resources which are not to be exploited by the market, but continuously recycled. "A yak becomes clothing and food, but not before another is born to take its place." A village called Basa in the land of Rai kept him coming back to Nepal where the villagers believe that everything, whether animate or inanimate, has a spirit and deserves respect.
From the first page where an avalanche threatens the lives of the hiking team to the last chapter where the returning team learned of the death of a porter, emotional as well as physical peaks and valleys abound. The ability and endurance of the guides is portrayed in sharp contrast to the anxiety and discomfort of some of the Westerners. The author feels despondent at times that some did not prepare adequately and underestimated the arduousness and danger of the trek. But in the end, all returned safely with a greater appreciation for nature, team work, and the people and culture of Nepal.
This is one of several books written by this author and is an experience in spiritual enlightenment as well as Himalayan adventure in a rarified atmosphere. It is a rare book indeed that can provide this kind of spiritual and psychological depth as well as breathtaking high adventure. It will be of interest to mountaineering explorers, anthropologists, spiritual seekers and anyone looking for an exciting true adventure story. It is a wonderful addition to eco travel literature as well as a book for spiritual journeyers, soul travelers, and philanthropy travelers.
Others have written about this topic including Greg Mortenson ("Three Cups of Tea") whose philanthropy efforts were questioned by many. This book is unusual in that it questions the value of philanthropy. Readers will also want to read "Light in the Mountains; memoir of a Hoosier Quaker in the Nepal Himalayas" which documents the effects of helping to bring an elementary school, smokeless stoves, and a hydroelectric system to the village. The author still believes that he as received more than he has given to the village. Check out his website at http://www.jeffreyrasley.com