The Great Railway Bazaar: By Train Through Asia (BBC Radio Collection) Audio Cassette – Audiobook, 1 Aug 1994
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One of the most entertaining books I have read in a long while . . . Superb comic detail (Angus Wilson Observer)
He has done our travelling for us brilliantly (William Golding) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Paul Theroux decided to board every train that chugged into view, from Victoria Station to Tokyo Central; to take the branch line to Simla, the spur through the Khyber Pass and the chord line that links Indian Railways with those of Ceylon; the Mandalay Express, the Malaysian Golden Arrow, the locals in Vietnam and the trains with bewitching names, the Orient Express, the North Star, the Trans-Siberian. The result is the story of an adventure fuelled by the romance of the railways. In the fine old tradition of purposeless travel for fun and adventure . . . compulsive reading Graham Green More than a rich and original entertainment. His people, places and asides will stay a long time jostling in the mind of the reader V. S. Pritchett One of the most entertaining books I have read Angus Wilson --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
Worse than his attitude to other travellers is his disdain for most of the countries he passes through, an the perfunctory visits he pays to them. I appreciate that travelling by train means you are necessarily going to be a passing visitor at best, but there is seemingly no desire to understand a country or its people, beyond visiting sex shows, bars or red light areas. His seedy visit to a brothel was just plain unpleasant to read.
I would only recommend this to anyone who has already been to Asia - this would have put me off going, which would have been a terrible shame.
In contrasts to these two volumes, which were written by an older and wiser Theroux, The Great Railway Bazaar (1975) - a circular train journey from London, right round Asia, and back to London again - is a much less learned affair. Once I understood the priorities and preferences of the young Theroux in this book I wondered how on Earth it could be a good read: Theroux doesn't know much about most of the countries he travels through, he only gets off the train when he can't help doing so (or to give one of the lectures which, together with an advance from his publisher, helped fund his trip - see the new introduction by Theroux himself), he openly admits that he hates sightseeing, he travels in the most luxurious (and expensive) part of the trains that he can (which often means in a private compartment) and he doesn't have a taste for idle conversation with those he meets. Not the best ingredients for a travel book, I thought, and a sharp contrast to the knowledgeable, constantly questioning and investigative older Theroux.
But somehow this is a fascinating book, and probably the best out of the three Theroux travel books I have read.Read more ›
For many years, I traveled across the United States by slow trains (on a free pass) over 72 hours. I was always glad to have the trip end . . . except for that one time I met an interesting young woman (but that's a story for another time).
I would find the kind of trip that Mr. Theroux describes to be unendurable. It's not surprising that he did, too. And that spoils much of the potential fun of this book.
He is fixated on giving you more than you ever wanted to know about bad meals, poor ticket-buying experiences, missing visas, getting drunk, poor sanitary facilities, and unpleasant companions. Mr. Theroux takes himself very seriously. That's too bad. A little humor about his situation would have helped.
From Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, it's not hard to know why: His marriage was falling apart and he couldn't really afford the trip. All I can say is that his problems show.
Imagine instead that a poor person had been granted this same opportunity: It would have been like a magic carpet ride. Unfortunately, you take yourself with you when you are a travel writer.
There are some good moments in the book. Occasionally, Mr. Theroux has enough knowledge about a country and its people to use his journey to comment in a helpful way about the culture.Read more ›
Although this book was written in 1975, there are very few references to contemporary events, so I didn't have the feeling (reading it in 2002) that it was nearly thirty years old. No doubt everything has changed since then, and I'd like to read a more up to date account of the trip. Having read quite a few of Theroux's travelogues, I think he's mellowed with age and maybe if he went the other way 'round next time, London - Moscow - Tokyo - Calcutta - Kabul, he'd be kinder to many of those that he meets. Of course, it wouldn't be quite as entertaining then!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very interesting and entertaining book.Published 1 month ago by Dr.Ratnakar Ramchandra Rao Gangakhedkar
One of the last true travel writers. He has his own style of writing, which is recognised easily. Wonderful books that can be read time and time again.Published 16 months ago by Ghost
One feels as if Theroux was writing the truth - or as close to the truth as possible here. Finding out about what was going on in his personal life (at the start of the follow up... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Jeremy McTiernam