Was the Sino-Indian war in 1962 really about a disputed border? What really happened at the Simla Conference in 1913-14 that led to the “McMahon Line”? Or, was there more to it, somewhere beyond the meetings and discussions between the two sides, the exchange of diplomatic notes, perhaps out of sight, and lost in the pages of history?
In A Conflict in Thin Air the author has attempted to unravel the tangled threads of history of China and Tibet from ancient times, in the 8th century, when both were almost evenly matched powers, and then between the 18th and the 20th centuries when there were frequent attempts at domination of Tibet by China and the equal persistence of Tibet in its independence. The study then moves to more modern times in the 19th century when British India had to confront Tsarist Russia and Imperial China, and later, in the course of the 20th century, in dealing with Nationalist China and then with Communist China.
The work attempts to break out of the frequently-held view of an intransigent India and a wronged China, and take into account the wider issues of the world-views of the political leadership of the two countries. The border war was merely the symptom of far deeper differences.