The Horse that Leaps Through Clouds by Eric Enno Tamm
A Tale of Espionage, the Silk Road, and the Rise of Modern China

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On July 6, 1906, Baron Gustaf Mannerheim boarded the midnight train from St. Petersburg, charged by Czar Nicholas II to secretly collect intelligence on the Qing Dynasty’s sweeping reforms that were radically transforming China. The last czarist agent in the so-called Great Game, Mannerheim chronicled almost every facet of China’s modernization, from education reform and foreign investment to Tibet’s struggle for independence.

On July 6, 2006, writer Eric Enno Tamm boards that same train, intent on following in Mannerheim’s footsteps. Initially banned from China, Tamm devises a cover and retraces Mannerheim’s route across the Silk Road, discovering both eerie similarities and seismic differences between the Middle Kingdoms of today and a century ago.

Along the way, Tamm offers piercing insights into China’s past that raise troubling questions about its future. Can the Communist Party truly open China to the outside world yet keep Western ideas such as democracy and freedom at bay, just as Qing officials mistakenly believed? What can reform during the late Qing Dynasty teach us about the spectacular transformation of China today? As Confucius once wrote, “Study the past if you would divine the future,” and that is just what Tamm does in The Horse that Leaps Through Clouds.

About Eric Enno Tamm

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Tamm was raised in the fishing village of Ucluelet on the outer shores of British Columbia. He has worked as the executive director of the Coastal Community Network in B.C. and as a freelance journalist in Europe. He works for Ecotrust Canada, an environmental group based in Vancouver.
Published April 10, 2011 by Counterpoint. 512 pages
Genres: History, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Horse that Leaps Through Clouds

Kirkus Reviews

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In 1906, Russia was reeling from its humiliating defeat by Japan in the Russo-Japanese War, and enlisted Mannerheim, an officer in the Imperial Army, to undertake the mission through the Asian provinces to gather information on all aspects of Chinese reforms, defensive preparations, politics, col...

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Publishers Weekly

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In this lengthy volume, Canadian journalist Tamm (Beyond the Outer Shores) chronicles the journey Baron Gustaf Mannerheim took in 1906 from St. Petersburg to Beijing by retracing his steps 100 years to the day later.

Jul 11 2011 | Read Full Review of The Horse that Leaps Through ...


Tamm attempts to link Mannerheim’s journey along the Silk Road in the early 20th century with his own 100 years later.

Jul 31 2011 | Read Full Review of The Horse that Leaps Through ...

The China Tamm encounters a century later is a throbbing hive of smog and corruption and, yes, wealth, although not much of that trickles down to the $2,000-a-year workers he finds staring into their computers at a Xi’an data mill.

Oct 19 2010 | Read Full Review of The Horse that Leaps Through ...

Lonely Planet

There are also some surprising design choices in the book: while there are extensive maps of Mannerheim’s trip there’s not so much as a single dotted line showing Tamm’s often wildly divergent route, and a total absence of pictures is made even more inexplicable by the fact that we are repeatedly...

Sep 05 2011 | Read Full Review of The Horse that Leaps Through ...

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