Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron

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Synopsis

Shadow of the Silk Road records a journey along the greatest land route on earth. Out of the heart of China into the mountains of Central Asia, across northern Afghanistan and the plains of Iran and into Kurdish Turkey, Colin Thubron covers some seven thousand miles in eight months. Making his way by local bus, truck, car, donkey cart and camel, he travels from the tomb of the Yellow Emperor, the mythic progenitor of the Chinese people, to the ancient port of Antioch—in perhaps the most difficult and ambitious journey he has undertaken in forty years of travel.

The Silk Road is a huge network of arteries splitting and converging across the breadth of Asia. To travel it is to trace the passage not only of trade and armies but also of ideas, religions and inventions. But alongside this rich and astonishing past, Shadow of the Silk Road is also about Asia today: a continent of upheaval.

One of the trademarks of Colin Thubron's travel writing is the beauty of his prose; another is his gift for talking to people and getting them to talk to him. Shadow of the Silk Road encounters Islamic countries in many forms. It is about changes in China, transformed since the Cultural Revolution. It is about false nationalisms and the world's discontented margins, where the true boundaries are not political borders but the frontiers of tribe, ethnicity, language and religion. It is a magnificent and important account of an ancient world in modern ferment.

 

About Colin Thubron

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Colin Thubron is an acknowledged master of travel writing. His first books were about the Middle East—Damascus, Lebanon, and Cyprus. In 1982 he traveled in the Soviet Union, pursued by the KGB. From these early experiences developed his great travel books on the landmass that makes up Russia and Asia: Among the Russians; Behind the Wall: A Journey through China; The Lost Heart of Asia; In Siberia; and most recently, Shadow of the Silk Road. Colin Thubron is an award-winning novelist as well as, arguably, the most admired travel writer of our time. He lives in London.
 
Published October 13, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 400 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Shadow of the Silk Road

Kirkus Reviews

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Thubron (In Siberia, 2000, etc.) takes an arduous 7,000-mile journey following the ancient silk trade route from inland China to Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.

May 15 2007 | Read Full Review of Shadow of the Silk Road

The New York Times

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Colin Thubron, the dean of British travel writers, follows civilization’s oldest and longest road, which isn’t quite a road.

Jul 15 2007 | Read Full Review of Shadow of the Silk Road

The New York Times

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Colin Thubron, the dean of British travel writers, would hate being called the dean of anything.

Jul 15 2007 | Read Full Review of Shadow of the Silk Road

The Guardian

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Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron 384pp, Chatto & Windus, £20 Colin Thubron's latest offering comes with some anticipation.

Sep 16 2006 | Read Full Review of Shadow of the Silk Road

The Guardian

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Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron Chatto & Windus £20, pp363 There is a monotony of desert and steppes in Colin Thubron's ninth travel book, Shadow of the Silk Road, a record of an epic journey through China and Central Asia.

Sep 17 2006 | Read Full Review of Shadow of the Silk Road

Bookmarks Magazine

Despite its name, the Silk Road—the almost mythical subject of Colin Thubron’s ninth travel book—is not a single road but a vast network of trade routes that have conducted merchants, goods, explorers, and armies from east to west and west to east since 1500 BC.

Aug 07 2007 | Read Full Review of Shadow of the Silk Road

The Moderate Voice

His trek began in Xian in central China and went west through ethnic lands where the Chinese are populating, paving over and plowing under settlements, shrines and cemeteries in their relentless mission of make everything everywhere modern and Chinese.

Mar 16 2008 | Read Full Review of Shadow of the Silk Road

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