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Summary : A journey along the greatest land route on earth, from the master of travel writing Colin Thubron On buses, donkey carts, trains, jeeps and camels, Colin Thubron traces the drifts of the first great trade route out of the heart of China into the mountains of Central Asia, across northern Afghanistan and the plains of Iran into Kurdish Turkey. Covering over 7000 miles in eight months Thubron recounts extraordinary adventures - a near-miss with a drunk-driver, incarceration in a Chinese cell during the SARS epidemic, undergoing root canal treatment without anaesthetic in Iran - in inimitable prose. Shadow of the Silk Road is about Asia today; a magnificent account of an ancient world in modern ferment. 'It is hard to think of a better travel book written this century' Times
Summary : 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.
Summary : There was never one Silk Road -- but several. The route chosen by Colin Thubron passes through China, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey, taking in the most sterile desert on earth (the Taklamakan) and the strife-torn mountain valleys of today's conflicts, as he travels from the tomb of the Yellow Emperor (the mythic progenitor of the Chinese people) to the ancient port of Antioch, by local bus, truck, car -- occasionally Landrover, horse or camel. He covers 7,000 miles in 8 months, and confesses that it is the most difficult, complex and ambitious journey he has undertaken in 40 years of travel. The Silk Road is a huge network of arteries and veins, splitting and converging across the breadth of Asia. Chinese silk has turned up in the hair of a 10th-century-BC Egyptian mummy; equally, the tartan plaids of 3000-year-old mummies in the Chinese desert echo those of early Celts. To be travelling the Silk Road, writes Colin Thubron, is to be travelling the history of the world: tracing the passage not just of trade and armies, but of ideas, religions and inventions. Yet -- despite the lure of the history -- this book is as much about Asia today. Its themes include different Islams (oppressed in China; fervent in Afghanistan and Iran; cautiously monitored in Uzbekistan); contrast (no cities could be more different than ancient Samarkand and modern Teheran); and the way that today's borders are meaningless because the true boundaries are made by tribe, ethnicity, language and religion. Shadow of the Silk Road is a brilliant account of an ancient world in modern ferment. From the Hardcover edition.
Summary : VINTAGE VOYAGES: A world of journeys, from the tallest mountains to the depths of the mind On buses, donkey carts, trains, jeeps and camels, Colin Thubron traces the drifts of the first great trade route out of the heart of China into the mountains of Central Asia, across northern Afghanistan and the plains of Iran into Kurdish Turkey. A magnificent account of an ancient world in modern ferment, Thubron covers over 7000 miles in eight months enduring a near-miss with a drunk-driver, incarceration in a Chinese cell, and undergoing root canal treatment without anaesthetic, along the way.
Summary : When a Chinese monk broke into a hidden cave in 1900, he uncovered one of the world’s great literary secrets: a time capsule from the ancient Silk Road. Inside, scrolls were piled from floor to ceiling, undisturbed for a thousand years. The gem within was the Diamond Sutra of AD 868. This key Buddhist teaching, made 500 years before Gutenberg inked his press, is the world’s oldest printed book. The Silk Road once linked China with the Mediterranean. It conveyed merchants, pilgrims and ideas. But its cultures and oases were swallowed by shifting sands. Central to the Silk Road’s rediscovery was a man named Aurel Stein, a Hungarian-born scholar and archaeologist employed by the British service. Undaunted by the vast Gobi Desert, Stein crossed thousands of desolate miles with his fox terrier Dash. Stein met the Chinese monk and secured the Diamond Sutra and much more. The scroll’s journey—by camel through arid desert, by boat to London’s curious scholars, by train to evade the bombs of World War II—merges an explorer’s adventures, political intrigue, and continued controversy. The Diamond Sutra has inspired Jack Kerouac and the Dalai Lama. Its journey has coincided with the growing appeal of Buddhism in the West. As the Gutenberg Age cedes to the Google Age, the survival of the Silk Road’s greatest treasure is testament to the endurance of the written word.
Summary : “This is history on a grand scale, with a sweep and ambition that is rare… A proper historical epic of dazzling range and achievement.” —William Dalrymple, The Guardian The epic history of the crossroads of the world—the meeting place of East and West and the birthplace of civilization It was on the Silk Roads that East and West first encountered each other through trade and conquest, leading to the spread of ideas, cultures and religions. From the rise and fall of empires to the spread of Buddhism and the advent of Christianity and Islam, right up to the great wars of the twentieth century—this book shows how the fate of the West has always been inextricably linked to the East. Peter Frankopan realigns our understanding of the world, pointing us eastward. He vividly re-creates the emergence of the first cities in Mesopotamia and the birth of empires in Persia, Rome and Constantinople, as well as the depredations by the Mongols, the transmission of the Black Death and the violent struggles over Western imperialism. Throughout the millennia, it was the appetite for foreign goods that brought East and West together, driving economies and the growth of nations. From the Middle East and its political instability to China and its economic rise, the vast region stretching eastward from the Balkans across the steppe and South Asia has been thrust into the global spotlight in recent years. Frankopan teaches us that to understand what is at stake for the cities and nations built on these intricate trade routes, we must first understand their astounding pasts. Far more than a history of the Silk Roads, this book is truly a revelatory new history of the world, promising to destabilize notions of where we come from and where we are headed next. From the Hardcover edition.
Summary : Thubron travelled throughout Central Asia in the wake of the break-up of the Soviet Union and documented the widespread social upheaval in a region reeling from political change. Thubron is an inspirational writer, intrepid traveller and insightful observer and his The Lost Heart of Asia is an outstanding guide to the history, people and culture of a vast region resonating with history and politics.
Summary : Long before China promulgated the official One Belt One Road initiatives, vast networks of cross-border exchanges have already existed across Asia and Eurasia. The dynamics of such trade and resource flow have largely been outside state control, and are pushed to the realm of the shadow economy. The official initiative is a state-driven attempt to enhance the orderly flow of resources across countries along the Belt-Road, hence extending the reach of the states to the shadow economies. This volume offers a bottom-up view of the trans-border informal exchanges across Asia and Eurasia, and analyses its clash and mesh with the state-orchestrated Belt-Road cooperation. By undertaking a comparative study of country cases along the new silk roads, the book underlines the intended and unintended consequences of such competing routes of connectivity on the socio-economic conditions of local communities.
Summary : No Marketing Blurb
Summary : The Silk Road conjures images of the exotic and the unknown. Most travellers simply pass along it. Brit Chris Alexander chose to live there. Ostensibly writing a guidebook, Alexander found life at the heart of the glittering madrassahs, mosques and minarets of the walled city of Khiva - a remote desert oasis in Uzbekistan - immensely alluring, and stayed. Immersing himself in the language and rich cultural traditions Alexander discovers a world torn between Marx and Mohammed - a place where veils and vodka, pork and polygamy freely mingle - against a backdrop of forgotten carpet designs, crumbling but magnificent Islamic architecture and scenes drawn straight from "The Arabian Nights". Accompanied by a large green parrot, a ginger cat and his adoptive Uzbek family, Alexander recounts his efforts to rediscover the lost art of traditional weaving and dyeing, and the process establishing a self-sufficient carpet workshop, employing local women and disabled people to train as apprentices. "A Carpet Ride to Khiva" sees Alexander being stripped naked at a former Soviet youth camp, crawling through silkworm droppings in an attempt to record their life-cycle, holed up in the British Museum discovering carpet designs dormant for half a millennia, tackling a carpet-thieving mayor, distinguishing natural dyes from sacks of opium in Northern Afghanistan, bluffing his way through an impromptu version of "My Heart Will Go On" for national Uzbek TV and seeking sanctuary as an anti-Western riot consumed the Kabul carpet bazaar. It is an unforgettable true travel story of a journey to the heart of the unknown and the unexpected friendship one man found there.
Summary : Chengli is an orphaned errand boy who lives in Chang'an China in 630 A.D. His mother has died from illness and his father is presumed dead after disappearing into the desert when Chengli was a baby. Now thirteen, Chengli feels ready for independence. He is drawn to the desert, beckoned by the howling of strange winds and the hope of learning something about his father--who he was and how he died. Chengli joins a caravan to travel down the merchant route known as the Silk Road, but it is a dangerous life, as his father knew. The desert is harsh, and there are many bandits--bandits interested in Chengli's caravan because a princess, her servants, and royal guards are traveling with them. But the desert is full of amazing places and life-changing experiences, as the feisty princess learns the meaning of friendship and Chengli learns the heroism of which he is capable.
Summary : The Silk Road is as iconic in world history as the Colossus of Rhodes or the Suez Canal. But what was it, exactly? It conjures up a hazy image of a caravan of camels laden with silk on a dusty desert track, reaching from China to Rome. The reality was different--and far more interesting--as revealed in this new history. In The Silk Road, Valerie Hansen describes the remarkable archeological finds that revolutionize our understanding of these trade routes. For centuries, key records remained hidden--sometimes deliberately buried by bureaucrats for safe keeping. But the sands of the Taklamakan Desert have revealed fascinating material, sometimes preserved by illiterate locals who recycled official documents to make insoles for shoes or garments for the dead. Hansen explores seven oases along the road, from Xi'an to Samarkand, where merchants, envoys, pilgrims, and travelers mixed in cosmopolitan communities, tolerant of religions from Buddhism to Zoroastrianism. There was no single, continuous road, but a chain of markets that traded between east and west. China and the Roman Empire had very little direct trade. China's main partners were the peoples of modern-day Iran, whose tombs in China reveal much about their Zoroastrian beliefs. Silk was not the most important good on the road; paper, invented in China before Julius Caesar was born, had a bigger impact in Europe, while metals, spices, and glass were just as important as silk. Perhaps most significant of all was the road's transmission of ideas, technologies, and artistic motifs. The Silk Road is a fascinating story of archeological discovery, cultural transmission, and the intricate chains across Central Asia and China.
Summary : Covering five thousand years of history and delving deeply into the archives the British Museum and other famous collections of art and antiquities, this fascinating tour of a storied trade route introduces readers to the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of this legendary trail. (History)
Summary : From the romantic conflicts of the Victorian Great Game to the war-torn history of the region in recent decades, Tournament of Shadows traces the struggle for control of Central Asia and Tibet from the 1830s to the present. The original Great Game, the clandestine struggle between Russia and Britain for mastery of Central Asia, has long been regarded as one of the greatest geopolitical conflicts in history. Many believed that control of the vast Eurasian heartland was the key to world dominion. The original Great Game ended with the Russian Revolution, but the geopolitical struggles in Central Asia continue to the present day. In this updated edition, the authors reflect on Central Asia's history since the end of the Russo-Afghan war, and particularly in the wake of 9/11.
Summary : This book illustrates the role that Private Security Companies (PSC) with ‘Chinese characteristics’ play in protecting people and property associated with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The revival of the ancient Silk Road economic “belt,” combined with the 21st Century sea lanes of communication known as the “road,” is intended to enhance global connectivity and increase commercial activity. However, the socio-political risks associated with Chinese outbound direct investments are often overlooked. Terrorism, separatism, kidnapping and other risks are mostly new to Chinese companies, some of which are operating abroad for the first time. Economic globalization and the transnational exploitation of natural resources have increased the need for Chinese-owned PSCs in spite of the disdain for the profession of “a lance for hire.” Due to peculiar geo-strategic and geo-economic features, the “belt” from Central Asia to Pakistan and the “road” from the Somali coast to the Strait of Malacca are characterized by a high level of insecurity. This book’s focus on how the state’s monopoly of force privatization can play a significant role in protecting the New Silk Road will be of interest to policymakers, journalists, and academics.