- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Vintage (4 October 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099437228
- ISBN-13: 978-0099437222
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #28,268 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Shadow of the Silk Road Paperback – 4 Oct 2007
Audio Cassette, Audiobook, Import
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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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He ends his account of his east to west journey along the Silk Road with the comment that the Silk Road itself was about one-quarter of the Equator. Then when considered that he has passed through so many different countries in this one man quarter Equatorial expedition a person can but be intrigued enough to begin a read.
I have read Paul Theroux's many travel books, and I admire him and his vision of the countries that he passes through; however, Thrubron brings a new demention to his passage through these, to me, unknown lands. Thubron's frequent conversations with people on trains, buses and the odd person that guards a particular historical site or piece of a site to which there has been little interest until the author shows himself and displays some interest in something that time has forgotten.
If you have any interest in the "stans" or the land or the land at both ends read, "Shadow of the Silk Road", you will be enlightened as well as entertained by Thubron's weighty yet informative prose.
Yet, his limited language ability does not stand in the way of him having deep conversations with countryside Uyghurs (e.g., a middle-aged, female camel-driver and an old taxi-driver) on a host of topics. Neither Chinese nor Uyghurs freely jump into sensitive conversation topics with strangers. Yet, they freely open up to this Brit about the Chinese Communist party, ethnic tensions, the state of Islam among the Uyghurs, SARS, prostitution and their own personal secrets (like the female camel-driver's breast cancer). This just does not happen. People don't open up to strangers about topics like these (especially to strangers who don't speak their languages well). Even if they had, he wouldn't have been able to understand them unless he himself had good language skills. And don't tell me he ran into English-speakers in these remote places.
I reached the same conclusion reading Thubron's "Behind the Wall: A Journey Through China", where every time he turns around, Chinese people want to share a story with him about their own experiences in the Cultural Revolution. In my 10+ years of living in China, I had perhaps 2 conversations about this dark period in China's history. People just don't want to talk about it. But, they were dying to open up to Colin, after his one year of Mandarin study in Taiwan. It would never happen.