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Shadow of the Silk Road Paperback – 4 Oct 2007
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"It is hard to think of a better travel book written this century" (The Times)
"Shadow of the Silk Road is a work of boundless riches. Every paragraph carries a captivating phrase...offering up an understanding of our world today that is as immediate as tomorrow's news, yet infinitely profound" (Craig Brown Mail on Sunday)
"One of Thubron's great strengths is his compassion...his shimmering prose creates a wonderful book, so multilayered that, when I reached the end, I wanted to read it all over again" (Sunday Times)
"Rich in humour, compassion and history, another confirmation, if any more were needed, that Thubron is the pre-eminent travel writer of his generation" (Sunday Telegraph)
"A poetic volume - interesting, shocking and deeply engaging, the work of a mature writer at the top of his game" (Sara Wheeler Daily Telegraph)
Colin Thubron has been described as 'one of the two or three best living travel writers, in some ways probably the best' - IndependentSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Like the best travel books you will learn about the geography and topography of the areas Thubron travels through, you will learn something about the locals he meets on his travels, and about the history of each place he visits as he passes through. One revelation for me (perhaps others were already aware) was that the silk route was seldom travelled from end to end; most merchants traded with the next towns in each direction. It was through a relay that goods passed from merchant to merchant, from Antioch to Beijing, and beyond in each case. Thus the Romans in the West had no idea of China, while the Chinese had no idea of the Roman empire. By the end of the book the reader will have some idea of both cultures, and those between. You will also have some idea of the people on the silk road today; they may not be what you expect from those countries.
A journey with Thubron through the medium of this book is a delight, but you will need to think at times. A journey at his side in reality might be stressfull because I would worry about falling short of his expectations of me. I would still sign up tomorrow.
The journey is fascinating. Through northern China, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, then through Iran and into Turkey, we visit places which are definitely off the tourist trail. Thubron had to work hard to get past border posts and pushed his luck with renegade officials to a startling degree, in order to get into the heart of tribal lands, where the reader feels he will find it hard to leave in one piece. His descriptions of landscape are magnificent - we can feel the desolation of the Gobi desert, and he uses more adjectives to describe mountain ranges than I would have thought possible. We read of the time of change which has come to these lands, but frankly, this is nothing new for them, for Thubron tells us of their troubled pasts, with marauding armies constantly laying waste and altering boundaries until the rise of the next dispensation. The people he describes seem to have survived constant massacre and genocide, and yet retained their culture, their language and their physical characteristics.Read more ›
With the likes of affable everyman Michael Palin, undemanding bestseller Bill Bryson and promising first-time writers such as Daniel Kalder adding these days to the swelling ranks of travel literature, it is always a joy to be reminded of the unrivalled proficiency demonstrated by the old-school masters of the genre. Wilfred Thesiger and Bruce Chatwin are no longer with us, Paul Theroux seems now to have turned his hand to novels; the aging Eric Newby, I daresay, has had his day. But there remains an author who is still very much at the top of his game yet avoids the mediocrity of the mainstream.
In alternating every few years between a travel book and a novel, Colin Thubron, in his relative longevity, riveting choice of destination and theme, has proven himself to be not merely a superior travel writer, but perhaps the very best still left. Using the established device of fact-based present to frame and extrapolate historical and scholarly past, in Shadow of the Silk Road, his first travel book since 1999's In Siberia, Thubron has produced a magnificently multilayered and consistently fascinating piece of work.
History, archaeology and mythology are interspersed with accounts of encounter, simple meals, poverty and peasant life; off-the-cuff, revelatory chats with old friends, farmers and daydreamers, as Thubron wends his way from China to Turkey, posing as journalist, then historian, in explaining his presence to suspicious bureaucrats and wary locals.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fascinating. Not the colour I expected but dire poverty in China. you feel you are there with the author.Published 3 months ago by E. Byrne
From Xian to the Mediterranean in the company of a perceptive and informed guide.
Samarkand and all the rest. Read more
This is an absorbing book written in a languid prose style. Thubron mixes extensive historical knowledge, travelogue and poetic description, seamlessly moving from one to another. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Davidicus
As an aside, this book is useful for playing certain medieval games, actually. Who doesn't adore the long fascinating history of Samarqand or Marv or Khiva or any one of many... Read morePublished 11 months ago by SJ Bond
Ponderous and out of date. Unenlightening on the Silk Road, a fascinating subject rendered dull.Published 13 months ago by dr john