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The Lost Heart Of Asia Paperback – 1 Apr 2004

22 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (1 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099459280
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099459286
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 152,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A distinguished travel writer and novelist, Colin Thubron was named by the Times as one of the fifty greatest post-war writers. His books include Among the Russians, Behind the Wall, In Siberia and the New York Times bestseller Shadow of the Silk Road. He has won many awards.

Product Description

Review

"Thubron's journey takes him through a spectacular, talismanic geography of desert and mountain... a whole glittering, terrible and romantic history lies abandoned along with thoughts of more prosperous times... Thubon's grasp of this fantastical past is impeccable, and he weaves its mysteries with modern images into a dazzling embroidery" (The Times)

"Thubron writes with an originality and vividness that few contemporary authors can match" (Independent)

"Although the heroic age of travellers in Central Asia has gone for ever, this book will still deserve, for the intense beauty of its pose and the observant clarity of its visions, to stand alongside the best of those classic travel writings of the past" (Sunday Telegraph)

"This book is a masterpiece of travel writing... in plain English, it's a classic" (New Statesman)

Book Description

'I would rather read Colin Thubron than any other travel writer alive on central Asia' - John Simpson, Daily Telegraph

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By SWH on 18 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback
When I read this book I had to carry a pencil around with me to underline phrases and sentences, the odd turn of phrase. I never wanted it to end and I thought he was writing just for me, just to entertain me and to tell me a story. It comes across as intimate - the writing is so emotive and sentient.

To me, this is what travel writing, indeed writing, is all about.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By C. J. Mackay on 4 Nov. 2001
Format: Paperback
Colin Thubron, I wish I was carrying your backpack for you on these journeys. Among the Russians made me laugh, this book made me drool! I have worked extensively in the Caspian region and you write what I live!For lovers of travel writing - buy this book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jan Øystein Thorsnæs on 25 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
I agree with the reviewers stating that this book is very well written. As in «In Siberia» Thubron comes though as a very gifted writer in «The lost heart of Asia». Though the Lost heart of Asia is 80 pages longer than In Siberia, Thubron succeeds to go much more into depth and cover the region more thoroughly in «In Siberia» than in «The Lost Heart of Asia».

First «The lost Heart of Asia» is primarily a book about Uzbekistan (213 out of 367 pages) and Turkmenistan (50 pages). As long as a book about Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan is what you search for, that is of course no problem. Be aware of this if you mainly are interested in reading about some other country in the region though. It is hardly fair to hold against a book the year of publishing, but also be aware that the book was published in 1994 and a lot has happened since then.

The manuscript for the rest of the region needs to be worked more on. The chapters about Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are simply weak (and short as if the writer know they are weak). The chapter on Kazakhstan has some great qualities but is not worked enough on to fulfill its full potential. The nuclear testing sites and the Soviet Nuclear program, the Gulags, the deported minorities and life in the mines, Bajkonur Kosmodrom and the Soviet Space program, the Aral sea, are some examples of topics that arguably need to be covered first hand in a travel book about Kazakhstan.

One can argue that the Aral sea is covered in the Uzbekistan chapter and that central Asia is more than Gulags and toxic waste. A problem though, is that the coverage of the Aral sea and the Karakalpakistan region is the weakest in the coverage of Uzbekistan (The Aral sea is covered excellent in «Chasing the Sea» by Tom Bissel though).
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By superblues on 27 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback
Colin Thubron explored the western Asian countries - Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kirghizstan, and Kazakshtan, all of which were formally governed and administered by the Soviet Union.

He provides an outstanding account of people, history, religious activities, and culture of a vast region in line with history and politics. It is interesting to note how Stalin intimidated Arabic speaking people and Islamic worshippers. He didn't only interrogate or penalise his suspects and people who had made comments about him. The people were also banned to use their language at home and schools, and sing at mosques. After the collapse of Soviet Union, they gained freedom of expressions. However, the number of production of literature and music pieces in their language have not been rising. Mr Thubron reveals that masses of people have lost their jobs after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and they have been experiencing difficulties of obtaining everyday items, all of them have high prices. Ostensibly, there are loads of potential artists who are unable to buy stationery items.

Colin Thubron met several Muslim communities, and finds the reasons that they are one of the most strict and resilient communities in the world. They believe that all Muslim worshippers will be able to live on after their death if they have faithfully carried out their prayers five times a day.

The author discovers the fact of the countries which are not easy for everybody to visit. It is a very entertaining book and a good item while sitting in an armchair, and makes you feel that there is no need to visit those countries experiencing difficulties of inefficient transport, as well as dealing with complicated bureaucracies.
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Through 367 pages we follow Colin Thubrons journey by planes, trains and automobiles through the 5 stans of Central Asia. For anyone interested in the history and culture of these republics, "The lost hear of Asia" provides interesting and fascinating insights as we follow Thubron's encounters with a host of different people from various backgrounds across the region. You may wonder where he finds them all, but each person, some of whom come from surprising minorities such as Germans or Koreans, forms a thread in what becomes a beautiful tapestry of the region. From Tamerlane to Stalin, we also learn about the leaders of the region, who left their mark, often in cruel and oppressive ways, but are still revered by the people. They seem to like "strong" leaders?

Thubron may sometimes be hard to follow. His vocabulary is vast and prosaic style sometimes difficult to understand, making it necessary to read paragraphs more than once to grasp the meaning of what he is writing. Although the book is almost 20 years old, the national "psyche" of the region has probably not changed fundamentally, but some paragraphs may be somewhat dated. I had hoped for more detailed coverage of Kirghizistan and and Tajikistan, which are only briefly described compared to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Still, the book is hard to put down if you have an interest in the region and its people. Well worth a read.
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