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3.8 out of 5 stars
The Lost Heart Of Asia
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on 13 August 2014
I have read several of Colin Thubron's books now, and he has quite the most relentlessly negative view about everyone and everything he encounters. The people he meets are presented either as miserable and hopeless; if they don't actually say this they are made out to be deluded fantasists. If a building is old and ruined this represents decay and neglect, if it is new or restored this is a symbol of soulless stamping out of 'true' national identity. I travelled in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan recently myself, and came away with a very different impression of places and people. The writing is good, but my goodness if the was your only source of information you would not be inclined to go near any of the places he writes about.
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on 3 June 2015
The writer seems determined to cast a melancholy pall over the whole experience. Of course, after such cataclysmic changes in their country, people are going to be nervous and unsure of the future. However, his choice of adjectives such as "dead", "bleached" to describe the brick walls and monuments of Khiva and Bukhara must surely have been a deliberate device to extend the gloom. After my own recent visit, I feel he could just as easily (and more truthfully) have selected "warm", "glowing", "vibrant". Or was it always cloudy when he was there?
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on 17 April 2017
Typical Thubron, not as good as his Siberian books
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on 14 March 2015
no comment havent read it yet arrived as expected
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on 20 April 2013
Through 367 pages we follow Colin Thubrons journey by planes, trains and automobiles through the 5 stans of Central Asia. For anyone interested in the history and culture of these republics, "The lost hear of Asia" provides interesting and fascinating insights as we follow Thubron's encounters with a host of different people from various backgrounds across the region. You may wonder where he finds them all, but each person, some of whom come from surprising minorities such as Germans or Koreans, forms a thread in what becomes a beautiful tapestry of the region. From Tamerlane to Stalin, we also learn about the leaders of the region, who left their mark, often in cruel and oppressive ways, but are still revered by the people. They seem to like "strong" leaders?

Thubron may sometimes be hard to follow. His vocabulary is vast and prosaic style sometimes difficult to understand, making it necessary to read paragraphs more than once to grasp the meaning of what he is writing. Although the book is almost 20 years old, the national "psyche" of the region has probably not changed fundamentally, but some paragraphs may be somewhat dated. I had hoped for more detailed coverage of Kirghizistan and and Tajikistan, which are only briefly described compared to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Still, the book is hard to put down if you have an interest in the region and its people. Well worth a read.
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on 5 March 2014
This is the story of one mans journey through the 5 stans of central asia namely -Turkmenistan,Tajikistan,Uzbeckistan,Kazakhstan and Kirghizstan shortly after they became independant of tht USSR
I was interested in the book as I had made a similar journey but in the opposite direction.
The book can not be described as a travelogue as it is as much a history book and a record of interminable conversations as it is about the places the author visited. Too much of the book refers to Uzbeckistan to the detriment of the other 4 stans.
What the book desperately needs are pictures (there are none) as this part of the world is most picturesque.
Not recommended.
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on 5 October 2013
Having just returned from Uzbekistan I found this book very dated and subsequently was not much use to someone visitng now. The prose sometimes gets in the way of what a reader wants to know. As a piece of travel writing I'm sure it is good but it does talk of days gone by now rather than how Bukhara and Samarkand are today. Several travellers felt the same and had given up half way through.
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on 15 July 2014
This is so well written I am transported to those deserts on the silk Road. This book has cured me of my desire to travel there and I can only hope that life is better for its inhabitants now. Excellent.
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on 28 January 2018
Having read Shadow of the Silk Road I had expected this book to be very good but heavy going, Another reviewer said of that book that Thubron had eaten a dictionary and was disgorging all the words onto its pages; I understood what he meant. Not so The Lost Heart of Asia which is readable as well as being informative. This isn't a travel guide, nor a history book but the subject matter touches these and more besides. Most westerners will not have been to and will not visit Central Asia and I am one of them. For this reason the book offers a detailed insight into a region of mystical and mythical qualities. Although over 20 years have elapsed since Thubron's travels this serves to show how things have changes and how other things have remained the same. If you want a different perspective on Russia, the USSR, Islam and social geography look no further.
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on 8 September 2014
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