Stories Spun from the Silk Road

By Horan, Richard | The Christian Science Monitor, July 17, 2007 | Go to article overview

Stories Spun from the Silk Road


Horan, Richard, The Christian Science Monitor


Colin Thubron, the intrepid, erudite author of numerous travel books, has once again undertaken an odyssey of Homeric proportions. This time he's ventured over 5,000 miles across the entire length and breadth of the Silk Road, through some of the most dangerous territory on the planet - Xian in China to Antioch on the Turkish Mediterranean, with stops along the way at Jiayuguan, Huatuguo, Ustkurgan, Maragheh, Orumiyeh, to name just a few of the mostly unpronounceable places he visited.

(And you might be advised to grab an old edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, because you'll need to reference some pretty obscure historical figures, such as Avalokitesvara aka Guanyin, the goddess of mercy during the Tang Dynasty; Husain Baiqara, the last Timurid sultan of Herat; and Yacub Beg, ruler of an independent Chinese Turkistan from 1865 to 1877, to name just a few.)

Shadow of the Silk Road is classical studies (think: Sir Kenneth Clark's "Civilization") meets exotic adventure (think: Lawrence Osborne's "The Naked Tourist"). Starting in the capital city of Xian at the shrine of the Yellow Emperor, "the mythic ancestor of the Chinese people," Thubron pointed his feet westward and sallied forth.

And it is quite the journey - physically, emotionally, and intellectually.

Thubron, ever the pedant, overloads the reader's neurons and synapses with page after page of historical references (see above for examples), yet he has a cleric's knack for engaging the locals and extracting from them their true confessions - primary source information that is the hallmark of all great travel writing.

For example, in Xian, in a dumpling restaurant, he met Hu Ji, a historian of the Tang dynasty. Out of the blue, and rather matter- of-factly, Hu Ji told Thubron (Thubron speaks Mandarin): " 'You know, in China we have no tradition of respect for human life. It's simply not in our past. That is our problem: inhumanity.' "

Later in Iran he met Vahid who confessed (Vahid lived in Canada so he speaks English): " 'We need a secular government. Everyone I know wants that. We want access to the world.' "

Amazingly, nothing bad happened to him along the way, despite the fact that he wandered alone into some treacherous locales he'd been advised to avoid like the plague.

Case in point: He was quarantined in a sanatorium in western China due to the outbreak of SARS, but he was released after only a few days no worse for the wear. Later, in Kyrgyzstan, he was duped out of a few dollars by thieves impersonating police, but other than that nothing of any consequence befell him. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Stories Spun from the Silk Road
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.