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.
Mapping Asia presents an authoritative selection of the most important antique maps of Asia and the Middle East produced from the time of Alexander the Great to the early nineteenth century, by cartographers from England, France, Portugal, Holland, Turkey, Italy, and China. A fascinating visual chronicle of the maps and their makers, this book explores the history of Europe's discovery of lands to the east, from Constantinople to present-day Alaska. It tells the stories of the thriving trade that linked east and west beginning with the ancient Silk Road, the explorers - such as Magellan and Sir Francis Drake - who continually searched for new lands and routes to reach the east beginning in the fifteenth century, and the indigenous peoples who struggled to retain their autonomy in the face of European missionary activity and influence.
Tibet, "the roof of the world," had been aloof and at peace for most of its 2,100 years. But in 1932, the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, in his final testament, warned: "It may happen that here, in the center of Tibet, religion and government will be attacked both from without and from within." By the time his successor was enthroned in 1950, the Chinese occupation had begun.
In this gripping account, John F. Avedon draws on his work and travels with the Fourteenth Dalai Lama to bring us the riveting story of Tibet and its temporal and spiritual leader. Included is an extensive interview with the Dalai Lama, who speaks about the conditions in Tibet, the mind of a Buddha, and the events of his life. Rigorously researched, passionately written, the original edition of In Exile from the Land of Snows was instrumental in launching the modern Tibet movement when it was published in 1984. Now, some three decades later, Avedon's testimony is more wrenching and relevant than ever.
Confucius--"Master Kung" (551-479 BCE), the Chinese thinker and social philosopher--originated teachings that have deeply influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and Vietnamese thought and life over many centuries. His philosophy emphasized personal and governmental morality, justice, and appropriateness in social relationships. In time these values gained prom-inence in China over other doctrines, such as Taoism and even Buddhism. His thoughts later developed into a system of philosophy known as Confucianism.
Today there remain many mysteries about the actual circumstances of his life, and the development of his influence has yet to be encapsulated for the general reader. But with Michael Nylan and Thomas Wilson's Lives of Confucius, many mysteries are laid to rest about his historical life, and fascinating details emerge about how his mythic stature evolved over time, right up to the present day.
Alongside the Spanish army in the campaign against Napoleon (1808-1814) was an assortment of freebooters, local peasants, and bandits who were organized into ad hoc regional private armies. These "guerrillas"--a term introduced to the English language during the Peninsular War--ambushed French convoys, attacked French encampments, and pounced upon, dodged, and fought French columns, often with extreme brutality. This book investigates for the first time the irregular Spanish forces and their role in resisting Napoleon.
Delving deeply into previously untapped archival resources, Charles Esdaile arrives at an entirely new view of the Spanish guerrillas. He shows that the Spanish war against Napoleon was something other than the great popular crusade of legend, that many guerrillas were not armed civilians acting spontaneously, and that guerrillas were more often driven by personal motives than high-minded ideology. Tracking down the bandit armies and assessing their contributions, Esdaile offers important insights into the famous "little war" and the motives of those who fought it.
Through a lyrical narrative of her journey to Tibet in 2007, activist Canyon Sam contemplates modern history from the perspective of Tibetan women. Traveling on China's new "Sky Train," she celebrates Tibetan New Year with the Lhasa family whom she'd befriended decades earlier and concludes an oral-history project with women elders.
As she uncovers stories of Tibetan women's courage, resourcefulness, and spiritual strength in the face of loss and hardship since the Chinese occupation of Tibet in 1950, and observes the changes wrought by the controversial new rail line in the futuristic "new Lhasa," Sam comes to embrace her own capacity for letting go, for faith, and for acceptance. Her glimpse of Tibet's past through the lens of the women - a visionary educator, a freedom fighter, a gulag survivor, and a child bride - affords her a unique perspective on the state of Tibetan culture today - in Tibet, in exile, and in the widening Tibetan diaspora.
Gracefully connecting the women's poignant histories to larger cultural, political, and spiritual themes, the author comes full circle, finding wisdom and wholeness even as she acknowledges Tibet's irreversible changes.
What do we really know about Burma and its history? And what can Burma's past tell us about its present and even its future? For nearly two decades Western governments and a growing activist community have been frustrated in their attempts to bring about a freer and more democratic Burma--through sanctions and tourist boycotts--only to see an apparent slide toward even harsher dictatorship.
Now Thant Myint-U tells the story of modern Burma, and the story of his own family, in an interwoven narrative that is by turns lyrical, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Through his prominent family's stories and those of others, he portrays Burma's rise and decline in the modern world, from the time of Portuguese pirates and renegade Mughal princes through a sixty-year civil war that continues today--the longest-running war anywhere in the world.
The River of Lost Footsteps is a work at once personal and global, a "brisk, vivid history" (Philip Delves Broughton, The Wall Street Journal) that makes Burma accessible and enthralling.
A riveting and beautiful memoir of tragedy and hope-by a woman named to Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world
Born in a village deep in the Cambodian forest, Somaly Mam was sold into sexual slavery by her grandfather when she was twelve years old. For the next decade she was shuttled through the brothels that make up the sprawling sex trade of Southeast Asia. She suffered unspeakable acts of brutality and witnessed horrors that would haunt her for the rest of her life-until, in her early twenties, she managed to escape. Unable to forget the girls she left behind, Mam became a tenacious and brave leader in the fight against human trafficking, rescuing sex workers-some as young as five and six-offering them shelter, rehabilitation, healing, and love and leading them into new life.
Written in exquisite, spare, unflinching prose, The Road of Lost Innocence is a memoir that will leave you awestruck by the courage and strength of this extraordinary woman and will renew your faith in the power of an individual to bring about change.
Simon Winchester, New York Times bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman, examines the legendary annihilation in 1883 of the volcano-island of Krakatoa, which was followed by an immense tsunami that killed nearly forty thousand people. The effects of the immense waves were felt as far away as France. Barometers in Bogota and Washington, D.C., went haywire. Bodies were washed up in Zanzibar. The sound of the island's destruction was heard in Australia and India and on islands thousands of miles away. Most significant of all -- in view of today's new political climate -- the eruption helped to trigger in Java a wave of murderous anti-Western militancy among fundamentalist Muslims, one of the first outbreaks of Islamic-inspired killings anywhere. Krakatoa gives us an entirely new perspective on this fascinating and iconic event.