Solid writing, but Thubron doesn't seem to have much of a sense of humor (I wasn't expecting Bill Bryson) - that, along with lots of historical background information, made the story a bit dense for me. Definitely glad I paused halfway (he exits China at the end of the first part) to listen to something different.
I'm torn about the narration: Keeble did what he could with inflection to keep the story interesting, but his pronunciation was a bit ... odd.
The author wrote very well, using many adjectives and describing sceneries as meticulously and as faithfully as possible. The narrator is excellent too. I was expecting a book about Silk Road history, but instead I got a travel book elaborating on the author's trip along the Silk Road. However I like it anyway. It is well written.
I usually don't read travel books and I have no idea which book this can be compared to. I read Edith Wharton's travel short stories and don't like them as much as I enjoy reading her novels. So probably this is the source of my general dislike of this genre.
Yes. I like his voice.
I only listen to audiobooks when driving to work or when doing home exercise, each half an hour. So I don't have big chunk of time to do it. Although I think it may be enjoyable to do it in one sitting.
I was really laughing loud when the book dwelled on poor peasants on the steppe who have blue eyes, a possible indication of Roman soldier ancestry. I think the author felt a little too sorry for them, probably because he is blue eyed himself. How about those black and brown eyed peasants? Don't you think the black and brown eyed peasants also deserve a chance to be transported in a limousine to somewhere grand to enjoy what their Roman ancestors have enjoyed, for example, binge eating and endless drinking? Probably it is uncharitable to say this. We all put too much emphasis on looks. It's an inalienable human weakness. I am not trying to pick on this author and especially I wish people will not pick on me when my book is published.
Mr. Thurbron uses words as an artist uses paint to paint a beautiful landscape. I could easily "see" the places and things he was describing and the people he met along the way. The portion of the book on Afghanistan and Iran gives an excellent insight into the world we find ourselves in at the moment...an insight that is quite different than what the common belief is on both sides.
I'm going to listen to it again after I finish this review. My mind wants to wander down the Silk Road again.
Sericulturalist and horticulturalist, mad scientist and earth oven baker.
I have been an independant scholar of all things "Silk Road" for the last 23 years of my life. This book tells a little less of what the Silk road was, and more of what it is and what it means to us, through a modern lense.
Thubron begins in China and ends in what was one of the ancient lynchpins of western civilization, Antioch. He takes 8 months to travel his chosen route (the Silk Road was really a series of many trade routes from as far east as Korea and Japan, and as far west as Venice.) and encounters greed, war, povery, and what some might call "terrible beauty". He revisits places he has been before, to find them forever changed, and this seems to change him as well. You can feel the wanderlust draining out of him as he goes. Aside from a near-bout with sepsis from a neglected dental problem, he emerges alive and realtively well, a much older man than can be measured by the date on his birth certificate.
The only thing I could have done without was his imaginary companion, the "Sogdian Trader", who haunts his sleepless nights. Thubron is a good enough writer to have done better with this part of the narrative.
Anyone interested in this part of the world would enjoy this book. Thubron has done the dangerous heavy lifting for us, and we can simply close our eyes and experience the journey.
This book is a wonderful blend of history -- much of which was new to me, though I have read some on this area before -- poignant vignettes of people met along the way, and poetic landscape descriptions that convey the feeling of being there more than a visual picture. The thought of the possibility of the descendants of Cassius' Roman legions in China is captivating ... The hopes, dreams and, sometimes, prejudices of people so far away touched me deeply and makes me even more angry at the actions of governments that keep us from knowing and understanding one another better. The narrator did a very good job, though some of the pronunciations did sound a bit peculiar -- not sure if it is a difference in that of British English or fault in the narrator, but it was only occasionally distracting. Loved the book and will no doubt return to it again and again. The author was/is a fan of Freya Stark -- if you've never read her you should. I know the recordings of her books exist as I've listened on cassette. I hope Audible will make them available someday (soon).
His unfamiliarity with certain pronunciations extends to Taoism (pronounced "daoism") and bodhisattva, which is most assuredly NOT pronounced "bodhitsattva." Where the extra T comes from is anyone's guess! A most interesting book nonetheless.
I found this book to be deep in the history of the regions as well as informative of currents of thinking of now. Highly engaging.