The Road To Oxiana Paperback – 3 Jun 2004
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"A brilliantly-wrought expression of a thoroughly modern sensibility, a portrait of an accidental man adrift between frontiers." -- Jonathan Raban
'A brilliantly-wrought expression of a thoroughly modern sensibility, a portrait of an accidental man adrift between frontiers.' Jonathan Raban, New York Review of Books'What Ulysses is to the novel between the wars and what The Waste Land is to poetry, The Road to Oxiana is to the travel book.' Paul Fussell, AbroadSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
His humour and infectious enthusiasm for the countries he travels through and the people he meets starts with an apparent disaster with the non-arrival in Beirut of the experimental, and somewhat surreal, charcoal powered Rolls Royce that he had intended to travel in with his long suffering companion Christopher Sykes. We then continue on the road in a series of unpredictable and often ramshackle vehicles and an equal collection of unpredictable and ramshackle horses and ponies whilst continually dodging the Persian secret police who were desperate to find out what on Earth these men were doing.
Not for nothing is the book called the Road to Oxiana, as the River Oxus, which is ostensibly the destination, only gets a brief mention at the very end although I won't spoil the story by saying how. No, this is a book of a journey and the care and time that Byron took over his choice of words draws the reader into the extraordinary life of Iran at the peak of the Peacock throne, from unbelievable wealth to grinding poverty.Read more ›
The depth and wit of Byron's writing is marvellous. He very efficiently balances a travelogue interwoven with his own observations and opinions. Most of the architectural descriptions are stunning and leave you envious. His cultural observations and some of the more ridiculous encounters he had with the locals had me laughing out loud. Based upon the current world situation if you really want to know something about the region I urge you to read this book.
It's a shame his life was cut short. I can only assume any further books he could have written would have at least equalled this one.
Byron was extremely witty and his observations acute. Considering he was travelling in the area in 1933-4, it is fascinating to read his opinions on Hitler, the situation in Bolshevik Russia, and European opinions. At times his descriptions of life in the Middle East are startlingly contemporary - clearly not much has changed in the last 70 years.
I laughed out loud at his habit of calling the Shah "Marjoribanks", because it was safer not to refer to him by name; and his description of his ill-fated visit to the toilet when in the grip of dysentry was hilarious (believe it or not).
"The Road to Oxiana" is a great book. Persevere through the first 10-15 pages and your patience will be rewarded.
The story goes that Byron wrote this "diary" on his return, re-jigging events and dialogues with the luxury of time in the comfort of England. This would explain the book's sharp wit and canny construction. Recently, however, I heard that his diaries from the trip had been unearthed, revealing that everything in the book is taken verbatim from his diaries, only with some editorial pruning after the event rather than rewriting everything de-novo. Whilst altering the myth, this in my eyes makes his achievement even more remarkable, making his stories even more entertaining with the certainty of their verity.
A great book. I never thought I would want to visit Iran, but this book has changed that.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have purchased this a gift for my son who wanted something different, I thought it looked very interesting and a good read.Published 12 months ago by Granny uk.
An interesting book ,especially in light of the troubles in Afganistan and Iran now,a view of these countries in the 1930's made essential reading. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Christine Denovan
Allowing that this book was written some 80 plus years ago,it remains a benchmark for travel writing. Byron writing is succinct, informed and witty.Published on 20 Jan. 2014 by Jono