- Hardcover: 307 pages
- Publisher: William Heinemann Ltd; 1st edition (14 Sept. 1987)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0434779881
- ISBN-13: 978-0434779888
- Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.8 x 2.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,458,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Behind the Wall: Journey Through China Hardcover – 14 Sep 1987
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"An achievement of great and lasting brilliance" (Patrick Leigh Fermor)
"This transcendentally gifted writer is, of course, one of the two or three best living travel writers" (Independent)
"A travel book which tells us more about this strange, sometimes terrible region and its people than a library of more pretentious works" (Literary Review)
"An intrepid traveller, who also writes beautifully, with wit and erudition... The result is a rare first-hand account of a country seen through the eyes of one who has experienced what he describes and who is in a position to understand what he sees... He penetrates where most would believe it is impossible for a foreigner to go" (Spectator) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Winner of the Hawthornden Prize and the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Mr Thubron has an incredibly perceptive nature. He has an amazing talent to spot a multitude of unspoken words in the tiniest change of expression on someones face, and to describe a multitude of political and emotional concepts in a single sentence. His style of writing may be cumbersome to some, but its well worth getting used to the elaborate words in order to gain one of the most profound western insights into the country imaginable.
Mr Thubron leaves no stone unturned, he remarks on the tiniest details around him and the most trivial of thoughts that would be irrelevant to most, and weaves these into the overall tapestry of his chapter. Nothing is beneath him, he really immerses himself into Chinese culture and engages with Chinese living and thinking. This is what makes him such a unique travel writer. He has so many perspectives. He writes with humour, compassion, detachment, artistic descriptiveness, political knowledge and worldly intelligence, yet he also brings a reassuring touch, human feeling that readers can connect with.
This is the nearest you can get to a virtual trip into China. His books about Russia and Siberia are just as profound, I'm looking forward to reading the rest... !
Read this, if you can, before The Lost Heart of Asia and Shadow of the Silk Road. I didn't, and wish I had, although it didn't prevent me from falling under Thubron's narrative spell.
One small downside: I do wish there had been more and better maps. I had to keep referring to my own atlas (or looking on the web) to find out exactly where he was ...
The result is an interesting overview of Chinese society as it was just opening up to foreigners after the long periods of war and revolution. Thubron was by no means the first tourist to do a tour of China since 1949, but he did travel when European tourists were very rare and limited to expensive package deals and the corresponding upper class environment, be it by Chinese standards. He studiously avoids following in their footsteps, and instead tries to take the cheaper hostels, the lower class train carriages and so forth in order to get an impression of real Chinese society as the Chinese experienced it. The degree to which one can do this as a total outsider is still always limited of course, and as any anthropologist knows the very act of being an observant as a stranger can and will change people's behavior. Nonetheless, the rarity of a white foreigner in the places Thubron goes greatly aids him in conversing with a number of random Chinese he meets, and this leads to some interesting conversations and good insight into the diversity of the Chinese peoples as such, 'even' under Communism.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am giving this book five stars because I feel it deserves it. It is at times entertaining and hilarious and also illustrates very well the nature of the people and the... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Herr Holz Paul
The detail in all of Thubron's works is mind blowing. This is not a book you can or would want to skim through.Published 17 months ago by Jambo numer 9
Vivid, depressing, some unforgettable incidents and characters described. I am going on holiday to China for the first time, and it will be intriguing to see how much things have... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Ms Pamela Hinett
This book was well-written like all C. Thubron's books. I could not read the map which was annoying as I could not locate the places. Read morePublished on 18 Feb. 2014 by Gibbs