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In Xanadu: A Quest (Text Only) (Flamingo)

In Xanadu: A Quest (Text Only) (Flamingo) [Kindle Edition]

William Dalrymple
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Product Description



Patrick Leigh Fermor

‘Dalrymple is probably the best travel writer of his generation’
Daily Mail

‘The future of travel writing lies in the hands of gifted authors like Dalrymple’
Sara Wheeler, Independent

Product Description

One of the most successful, influential and acclaimed travel books of recent years from the author of ‘Return of a King’, which has been shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson prize.

At the age of twenty-two, William Dalrymple left his college in Cambridge to travel to the ruins of Kublai Khan’s stately pleasure dome in Xanadu. This is an account of a quest which took him and his companions across the width of Asia, along dusty, forgotten roads, through villages and cities full of unexpected hospitality and wildly improbable escapades, to Coleridge’s Xanadu itself.
At once funny and knowledgeable, In Xanadu is in the finest tradition of British travel writing. Told with an exhilarating blend of eloquence, wit, poetry and delight, it is already established as a classic of its kind.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 522 KB
  • Print Length: 321 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0006544150
  • Publisher: HarperPress (21 Jun 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0088NCCVG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #44,859 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

William Dalrymple was born in Scotland and brought up on the shores of the Firth of Forth. He wrote the highly acclaimed bestseller In Xanadu when he was twenty-two. City of Djinns won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award. The Age of Kali won the French Prix D'Astrolabe and White Mughals won the Wolfson Prize for History 2003 and the Scottish Book of the Year Prize. The Last Mughal was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and won the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize. His most recent book, Nine Lives, was published in 2009 to huge acclaim. He lives with his wife and three children on a farm outside Dehli.

(Photo credit: Karoki Lewis)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anachronistic fun 22 April 2002
By A Customer
This is without doubt an enormously enjoyable, witty and informative book. It is also curiously dated - William Dalrymple reads here more like a young Evelyn Waugh, or possibly Graham Greene in Travels With My Aunt, than a 19 year old at the end of the 20th century. However, each to his own: personally I still enjoyed the account, despite occasionally feeling a slight desire to shake some of the pompous Empire-builder out of him (his later books have lost some of this tendency, apart from the 'amusing native' sketches which I found rather overdone in City of Djinns). One of the features of In Xanadu that I found most endearing was the fact that Dalrymple seemed, for much of the trip, to be having a thoroughly nasty time, and wasn't afraid to lose face by telling us so ('Latakia is a hole.') - as my experience is that much travel consists of being smelly, tired and miserable it was reassuring to find that someone else shared this viewpoint too. However, Dalrymple's overwhelming talent is definitely to convey a vivid sense of the places he's been, and In Xanadu displays that in spades. Really astonishly good for a first book.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable journey by a gifted writer 9 Aug 2000
By A Customer
'In Xanadu' is both highly entertaining and impeccably researched. The success of a travelogue often hinges on the likeableness of the author, and William Dalrymple is affable, down to earth and funny. The tale of his remarkable journey through Asia is enriched by his ability to bring to life historical accounts and scholarly details. He also makes some fascinating discoveries on route, and the whole book is bursting with enthusiasm. The only thing I feel lets him down is a tendency to resort to racial stereotyping and generalising, which results in some rather dubious comments - otherwise an excellent book.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Intelligent Fun 1 Dec 2002
I first discovered William Dalrymple when my aunt gave me a copy of "From The Holy Mountain" when I went to Israel, which I greatly enjoyed. So, when I spotted "In Xanadu" in a bookstore, I decided I had to read it.
In Xanadu is WD's first book, and, I think, also his best. The style is slightly fresher than in his later works. The jokes seem to be more natural, and there are more of them too...a good thing, as Dalrymple has a wonderuful sense of humor, especially in the little ridiculous details of life. The book is also amazingly well researched, and I learnt an enormous amount from it.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but could have been better 10 Aug 2008
In the mid 1980s, William Dalrymple (then in his early 20s) made a journey retracing the steps of Marco Polo's famous journey during the 1200s, from the church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem to the site of Shangdu (or Xanadu, as is better known in literature), the summer palace of Kublai Khan, in Outer Mongolia, China. In reality, though, since Soviet Central Asia was then barred to western travel, he deviated in part from Marco Polo's route, going through the Baluchi desert, in southern Iran and Pakistan, and then up the Indus river, and through the then newly opened Karakoram highway to western China, instead of traveling to China through Samarkand and other cities in Central Asia. The book itself is a mixed bag, there is some interesting things in it (at least he did some homework in terms of research) but there are far too many of the sort of banal, smug and self-centered comments and experiences you see in much of the travel writing of westerners as they go through the third world.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In Xanadu by William Dalrymple 23 Oct 2006
I was encouraged to read this book by a friend - Travel is not really my bag BUT I LOVED IT!!! Once started I couldn't put it down. The dry humour greatly amused me. I loved the mix of interesting historical asides to a modern travelogue. I was intrigued by the descriptions of the people William Dalrymple met on his travels. Whether this is your first travel book or simply the most recent I don't see how you can fail to enjoy it.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Pleasure Dome 24 Oct 2006
A joy to read. There are few writers who can invoke an atmosphere, a setting, a genius locii with such taut writing and so little persiflage. Having been to at least a few of the places Dalrymple visited, it was difficult not to yell out "Yes, it really was like that". So many travel writers are guilty of at least one of the following - a) to patronise the reader "Look how clever I am", or b) patronise the locals "aren't they a funny bunch", or c) prove they are unable to understand themselves, never mind others. Some writers manage to fall into all three traps. Dalrymple is seldom, very seldom, responsible for any such rubbish. Finally, to tie his travels into that great, universal theme of The Quest is a stroke of genius. Few have been able to dance so lightly and with such gusto over words. In short, one of the great travel books. Pity he went to Oxford, but Fate always ensures no-one is perfect.

Hans Norton
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A delightful story of a fascinating quest 30 Sep 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
William Dalrymple tells the fascinating story of his attempt to follow, as closely as possible, the route Marco Polo took (in 1271) from Jerusalem to Kubla Khan's legendary summer Palace of Xanadu, close to today's Beijing.

Marco Polo's route had, apparently, never been successfully followed: Afghanistan in the 19th century was considered too dangerous whilst, when China began opening up in the early 1980s, Afghanistan was closed because of the Soviet invasion. When WD set out on his overland journey in 1987 travelling through Iran and Syria was actively `discouraged' whilst the (then newly opened) mountain road from Pakistan runs close to some highly sensitive and militarily-restricted areas of China.

William Dalrymple tells a frequently amusing story of the trials and tribulations he and his companions encountered on the journey. He clearly has an in-depth knowledge of the history, religions and cultures of the countries they passed through and this, plus his humour and style of writing, makes the book a highly enjoyable read. Their attempts to disguise themselves as locals - in order to avoid too many questions from Tehran's religious community and, a little later, from the Chinese military - are both colourful and amusing. Particularly the time they spent attempting to hide in a load of coal being carried by (what else?) a coal lorry...

The knowledge that they finally reach Xanadu won't spoil the story and the way the last part of the journey was 'wangled' is close to hilarious. But, although they were forbidden to take photographs, they managed to 'lift' a piece of a roof tile which was subsequently dated as being a 13th century Mongol artifact; it came close to establishing that they'd successfully reached the remains of Xanadu.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Miss it at your peril
Reading this for the second time around, hilarious and intelligently written packed with wonderful detail, you and I are unlikely to be able to make this journey ourselves, and... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Davidindigitaland
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful
A most wonderful story of adventure and courage, crossing Asia in search of Marco Polo' Xanadu. Beautiful writing and cinematographic images. Definitely a must read.
Published 9 months ago by mikki47
3.0 out of 5 stars a trip from the Mediterean to Peking
Picaresque, a little puerile or studenticose. But well worth reading. Book gives many pictures of famous buildings in Asia and aa pleasant story about a very frugal voyage.
Published 10 months ago by Staffan Sohlman
4.0 out of 5 stars In Xanadu
Book was slightly delayed but I was kept informed and when it arrived the book was in very good condition but possibly the photographs were a little disappointing in paperback form... Read more
Published 11 months ago by B.E.
3.0 out of 5 stars For fans of Dalrymple
A bit dated now but still an enjoyable read. Apart from the travel stuff the enthusiasm of youth shines like a beacon through these pages. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Somerset
5.0 out of 5 stars a real treat
I enjoyed this book as I have all of William Dalrymple books, I find his trips around the globe fascinating. you really feel you are involved.
Published 20 months ago by Kernal
5.0 out of 5 stars Witty and atmospheric
William Dalrymple's descriptions of his travels are witty and fun to read. If you can't afford to go on holiday reading one of his books is the next best thing.
Published 22 months ago by S. Wallace
5.0 out of 5 stars An admiring reader
I have read several of William Dalrymple's books before but no longer possessed this one. It is brilliant, erudite, amusing and at times moving.
Published on 8 Dec 2011 by MichaelK-S
5.0 out of 5 stars To-gether in Xanadu
Yes, William Dalrymple took me on the journey to Xanadu, I was there every step of the way. An excellent travel book, an excellent writer. Read more
Published on 21 Oct 2011 by Hughwho?
2.0 out of 5 stars A shame
I had really high expectations of this book, but it wasn't really to my taste - Dalrymple writes reams of stuff on the architecture of places that he visits, but seems to skimp out... Read more
Published on 31 May 2011 by aee
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