30 April 2007

Shadow of the Silk Road

Colin Thubron's newest book, Shadow of the Silk Road, traces his 2003 trip from Xi'an to Antioch through Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey. I like this book quite a bit better than Thubron's older book about Central Asia, The Lost Heart of Asia. The chapter on Kyrgyzstan in the second is far, far better (no lumbering oafs here) although it's rather out of date already since Akaev is long gone.

Thubron goes to many places I've been, and to many more that I've only dreamed of going to. I like to read his travel books because he visits interesting places along the way instead of just writing about the bus and train rides and where to find a drink.

Thubron also doesn't put in so many unbelievably detailed discussions with various people who don't speak English. His Russian is admittedly limited and it was always a bit hard to swallow everything he wrote in The Lost Heart of Asia. Shadow of the Silk Road is much more believable.

I felt the book was strongest in the first half; I felt that it started moving faster and faster as the book progressed and there really wasn't time to soak in the last few countries. But since I was mostly reading for China and Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, it didn't bother me much.

All in all a good book. Recommended.

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