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Extremes along the Silk Road: Adventures Off the World's Oldest Superhighway Paperback – 8 May 2006
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A generous handful of often hilarious and always self-deprecating anecdotes . . . hugely gripping, sometimes moving, and bursting with a myriad of extraordinary and barely believable facts, Extremes Along the Silk Road is written proof of why we all wish Nick Middleton had been our geography teacher at school. (Global magazine)
An insightful and entertaining exploration of the relationships between people and nature. Middleton combines a traveller's passion with a geographer's knowledge and insight (Geographical Magazine)
This affable Oxford don has evolved his own brand of "extreme travel" . . . one of the joys of reading Middleton is to see him confronting his phobias and fears . . . credit must go to both author and publisher for creating something far more worthy than the average TV tie-in. (Wanderlust)
He succeeds brilliantly . . . Middleton has good stories to tell, and tells them very well. (Focus (Bristol))
'Middleton shares his passion for the terrain, the wildlife and the human interaction . . . His visit to the man-made ecological disaster of the Aral Sea and its sinister island provokes his most heartfelt arguments' (Waterstone's Books Quarterly)
A magnificent insight into life in the extremes (Good Book Guide)
Wonderfully descriptive and evocative (Daily Express)
'According to convention, explorers are tall, rugged, firm-jawed and taciturn. Think Captain Scott. Alternatively, they are ebullient and impossible to shut up, like Ray 'how to make dinner and a canoe out of three coconuts and some monkey dung' Mears. As an Oxford Don, explorer Nick Middleton is more a vague approximation of the Indiana Jones, academic adventurer type. He is 5ft 6in tall and wears specs, which are the bane of his life because they melt in the heat, snap in the cold or get eaten by insects... He is as surprised, wrong-footed or even disgusted as you or I would be when confronted by creepy-crawlies, mud or rotting seal. His travel books are wonderfully descriptive and evocative but they retain a strong tone of the Ordinary Joe; of Everyman discovering strange and amazing things and trying to have a laugh with the locals' (Daily Express)
'Nick Middleton, part Oxford don, part Indiana Jones, enjoys travelling to extremes' (Traveller Magazine)
'Each [essay] is an admirable work in its own right. . . an informative, enjoyable book.' (Adventure Travel Magazine)
'An engaging insight into the lives of people who continue to survive in the harsh environments that make up this great historical trade route . . . [The book] succeeds in portraying a far greater insight into the unforgiving territory he visits and sheer warmth of the people he meets . . . crucially, he manages to maintain the right balance of personal experience' (Birmingham Post)
'Middleton has good stories to tell, and tells them very well' (BBC Focus Magazine)
Groundbreaking geographer, broadcaster and travel writer brings together eyewitness experience, history and survival on the thread that links East and WestSee all Product description
Top customer reviews
The best travel writing takes the reader on a personal journey which they can understand and will remember: this is not what this book achieves but it is nonetheless an intersting travel story.
The book should have been entitled "Wandering in and Rambling on about Central Asia" as the author burbles on about incidents in Tibet,Mongolia,China,Uzbeckistan and Kazakhstan that are totally unrelated to the Silk Road and indeed the Silk Road is not mentioned untill page 55 and it is not till page 185 that 2 pages about the background to the road is given.The first third of the road from Lhoyand to Turpan and the last half from Otar to Europe are ignored.
For a good book on the road read "the Silk Road-Art and History.
Definately not recommended.
The Kazakstan bit was interesting as with Tibet but Mongolia had been done before in his previous book, it was pretty inspiring stuff but I felt he was treading already gone over ground.
Dr Nick Middleton is an allegedly upper-middle-class, seemingly soft-living geographer who has travelled and explored more than 50 countries and published books (as a sole writer) going back as far as 1988.
However, "soft-living" is not a phrase that could be used to describe his exploits into the world's harshest - truly harshest - environments.
With an Extremely (pun intended) engaging personality which is more apparent in the Channel Four programmes he's made than in his writing - Nick scribes with a sense of humility and honesty, but beyond explaining his motivations for going to such extreme locales never alludes to any personal details - meaning his books reveal little behind the man, the preference being to concentrate on travel and the environments themselves. This makes for objective correspondence, but also provides an enigma to the man behind it - a point, perhaps, that makes his work so totally engrossing and leaves you wanting, or rather needing, more.
The style with which he writes is far more accessible than that of say Jack London or Henry David Thoreau (okay, so Nick is contemporary - there lyeth the answer - but even so, he could, but doesn't, add any pretence) without elaborate allegories, but is also infinitely more enchanting than a lot of the more modern day off-the-beaten-track travel writers.
As a younger end Thirty Something, I always prefer to see the more tenured traveller exploring and writing about this type of passage, and along with Michael Palin, Nick Middleton is now well and truly a favourite. Of the younger generation of travel writers, I think only Simon Reeve comes close.
All in all, Nick Middleton's books on Extremes are truly fascinating works of brilliance. I only wish he'd cover some of the more anthropogenic extremes like Bhopal, Chernobyl (which he has said is on his list, but which is - unfortunately - no longer off-the-beaten-path, being as it's now a tourist attraction) The Banqioa Dam, Goianas, etc, as he did with Voz Island (Rebirth Island) in this book.
Many thanks Nick, these books have been great companions. Congratulations on your first child.
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