Shadow of the Silk Road

Shadow of the Silk Road

3.75 (2,765 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

A magnificent account of a journey through an ancient world in modern ferment Out of the heart of China into the mountains of Central Asia, across Northern Afghanistan and the plains of Iran into Kurdish Turkey, Colin Thubron undertakes a journey along the greatest land route on earth - the Silk Road. Traveling 7,000 miles in eight months, he traces the passage not only of trade and armies, but of ideas, religions and inventions. With a gift of talking to others, and of getting them to talk to him, Thubron meets some fascinating people and encounters some of the world's discontented margins, where the true boundaries are not political borders but the frontiers of tribe, ethnicity, language and religion.show more

Product details

  • CD-Audio | 12 pages
  • 195 x 195 x 41mm | 408g
  • ISIS Publishing
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Unabridged
  • Unabridged
  • 0753127164
  • 9780753127162

Review Text

Thubron (In Siberia, 2000, etc.) takes an arduous 7,000-mile journey following the ancient silk trade route from inland China to Turkey's Mediterranean coast.At the very least, his marathon expedition through desert, mountains and war-scarred landscapes testifies to the author's fortitude and resourcefulness. He's quarantined by Chinese authorities during the SARS epidemic, nearly killed by a drunk driver in a head-on collision and forced to endure treatment of an abscessed tooth by a team of Iranian village dentists who don't use anesthetic. Thubron attends a rock concert staged in a Tehran military hospital, dodges suspicious guards at several remote border crossings and searches out the tombs of Genghis Khan, Omar Khayyam and Ayatollah Khomeini. He augments his trenchant narrative with impressive historical background and evocative lyrical prose: "In late autumn the road traversed a near-desert plain. From time to time a faint, brown wash overhung the horizon, as if a watercolorist had started painting mountains there, then forgotten them." Even the most erudite readers, however, may find themselves daunted and disoriented by this lengthy sojourn in such consonant-laden regions as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, complete with their obscure attendant cultural histories. Until 1498, when the Portuguese sailed around Africa and found a safer route to China's riches, the Silk Road across central Asia was traveled by successions of invaders. East-bound from Rome, Greece and Arabia came poetry, metals and conquering armies. From China, traders carried westward such wonders as silk, paper, gunpowder and the mechanical clock. Thubron carefully picks through the cultural and archeological remains of a half-dozen societies with a discerning eye and a scholar's discipline, pausing to note the fallout from such relatively recent arrivals as China's murderous Red Guards, the Taliban and ruthless Afghan warlords. He also pauses long enough to meet and introduce a host of memorable characters, including a Chinese college dean and some Afghan truck drivers.An impressive, rewarding and occasionally exhausting trek, most suitable for the hardcore travel reader. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

2,765 ratings
3.75 out of 5 stars
5 25% (685)
4 39% (1,068)
3 26% (730)
2 8% (213)
1 2% (69)
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