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Forbidden Journey (Marlboro Travel) Paperback – 28 Feb 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; New edition edition (28 Feb. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810119854
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810119857
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.8 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 924,477 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Ella Maillart was born in Switzerland in 1904. An Olympic athlete, actress, movie stuntwoman, and captain of the Swiss Ladies Hockey Team, Maillart also found time to travel widely in Asia. In 1939 she and her companion Annemaie Schwarzenbach drove from Switzerland to Afghanistan, a trip described in Maillart's book The Cruel Way (Beacon, 1987). Her other books include Turkestan Solo (Long Riders Guild, 2001). She died in 1997.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By MarkE on 2 Aug. 2007
Format: Paperback
The first travel book I read (many years ago) was Peter Fleming's News from Tartary, and this is an account of the same journey, but written by Fleming's companion. It should not, however, be seen as a companion to Fleming's work, as it stands very comfortably (and assertively) on its own feet, as did Ella Maillart.

There are no journeys left in the world where one could write on setting out "do not expect to hear from us for six months, and do not worry until a year has passed", but that is what Maillart wrote on setting out on this journey.

Although she displays the sort of "stiff upper lip" one would expect from an adventurous women of her generation, there can be no disguising the danger inherent in such a journey at that time. This is not however an account of an adventure; it is the account of a journey undertaken to see what was there, and to report on it for people who could not expect to vist the area. In this goal Maillart succeeds admirably; her descriptions of the country and the people she encounters bring them fully to life and had me at least, yearning to vist what is still an inaccessable part of the world.

I envy Peter Fleming for having undertaken such a journey, and with Ella Maillart for company.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By K. Collett on 17 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
I think the first reviewer is a bit coy.
This is an outstanding observational journal; it makes Peter Fleming s recollection of the same journey a gathering of small moues.
Please please will someone clever translate the rest of this polymaths remarkable works.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BARBARA on 28 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ella Maillert accompanied Peter Fleming, the author of News from Tartary - his epic account of their journey from China to Kashmir in what is now Pakistan, as a casual travelling companion after only a very short prior acquaintance. While Maillert notices and reports on a lot more detail of the journey, her style is dry and lacks the colour and vitality that illuminates nearly evey word of Fleming's narrative. So much so that each author may be describing and remembering two completely different adventures. However, reading both books forms a more rounded picture of the trials and tribulations they endured and the reader ends the books filled with enormous admiration for their fortitude and determination to complete the journey no matter what difficulties they encountered. An excellent experience for the armchair traveller!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Not worth the money 7 Aug. 2012
By Richard - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a barebones edition that never should have been published. The original contains some 67 photographs, including a few very useful maps. They add immensely to the pleasure of reading Maillart's narrative. Aside from the cover, this edition contains none.

Much better to search out an independent bookseller through [...] and buy an earlier edition with the photographs in parallel with buying an earlier edition of Peter Fleming's travelogue for the same trip. Though both authors describe the facts of the travel from Beijing to India along the southern Silk Road route, their descriptions of their inter-personal interactions and among the people they encounter along the journey are very different and complementary.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Excellent. 15 April 2005
By Ellie Lief - Published on
Format: Paperback
I read this book years ago while I was living in France and I left my copy there. I have often wished I still had it. It's doubly entertaining and informative to read with the Peter Fleming book.

I'd like to give you more details, but it's been so long, only the pleasure of the tale lingers.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A great classic of travel writing 3 Aug. 2013
By John Duncan - Published on
Format: Paperback
I knew about this book from reading Peter Fleming's account of the same journey (News from Tartary: An Epic Journey Across Central Asia), but it was much more recently that I was able to find a copy (in French: so although I hope I can give an accurate assessment of Ella Maillart's qualities as a writer, I can say nothing about the accuracy and readability of the translation into English). Anyway, if you've read Fleming's book read this as well, because it's very different, though based on the same facts; if not, then read both, for the same reason. If the version available lacks pictures and maps then that's a pity, but it's not a disaster (I don't agree with another reviewer who thought that the lack of these justified a one-star review), because the main reason for reading either book is the fascinating picture of China in the 1930s -- the period of very weak government from Nanking with large parts of the country virtually out of even weak government control, including most of the way from Pekin to India that Maillart and Fleming took. There was a very strong degree of Russian (Soviet) infiltration in western China, and the Chinese tended to think all western foreigners were Russian spies -- especially ones like Maillart who sometimes needed to hide the fact that she could speak Russian fluently.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect is that the expedition of seven months from Peking to Srinagar was successful, with so many things that could have gone wrong -- Maillart or her companion could have drowned while crossing a river; they could have fallen over a precipice; they could have died of starvation, thirst or disease; they could have been shot by rebels. Not only did none of these things happen, but the most likely disaster of all didn't happen either: they could have been turned around and forced to go back to Peking, possibly under arrest. They had to pass endless passport inspections and other controls, but although these caused many delays, they always managed to continue (though their Russian companions on the early part of the journey, whose presence had seemed almost essential for success, were less fortunate). Right up until the last control before reaching India they could have been stopped, and as they had no legal right to be where they were they needed to expect the worst. Their documents were in Chinese, but as many of the officials who stopped them didn't recognize the weak government in Nanking and many of them could not read Chinese that was no guarantee.

Maillart was fluent in Russian (very useful in western China), and Fleming could speak some Chinese, but they had little knowledge of the various other languages they needed, but somehow they managed. Maillart was also an expert sportswoman -- sailing, hockey and skiiing, none of which were useful accomplishments for travelling through China -- and although the whole story of her life suggests otherwise the impression one gets from reading her book, and Fleming's, is of someone of great competence and stability. They shared out the work in a way that is probably typical of man-woman teams: he did all the shooting and negotiating with the Chinese; she did the less exciting things like cooking, and repairing and washing clothes. Nonetheless, they managed to maintain a cordial relationship for seven months. As Fleming remarks (but she does not: he says much more about her, entirely complimentary, than she does about him), by all the standards of literature of the time (no less than today) during that time they should have ended up madly in love or hating one another, but apparently neither of those things happened.
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