Customer Reviews for

Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar

Average Rating 3.5
( 27 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Mid-Eastern and Far Eastern Travel Log PLUS

Written from the perspective of a traveler with a "gift of gab" and insightful historical knowledge of the wide area traveled, Theroux is a good story teller and mixes his personal life with information that otherwise is lost in history books and buried in current newsp...
Written from the perspective of a traveler with a "gift of gab" and insightful historical knowledge of the wide area traveled, Theroux is a good story teller and mixes his personal life with information that otherwise is lost in history books and buried in current newspaper events regarding the Middle East and Far East. Very objective in many parts, yet personalized with a touch of ego sometimes, this unique travel experience has been recreated from his earlier trip in around 1973-the comparisons are very interesting.

The maps before and after text were very helpful while reading: My American education of the 1960's did not stress geography of these areas- this was a great tutorial for me (including the countries that have claimed new names in the government takeovers and/or expansion in the last three decades).

posted by MM2010 on November 23, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Theroux has writtem much, too much of it overflows in this book.

I always enjoy starting to read any of his books. I think The Great Railway Bazaar" was a better book than "Ghost".
Theroux is very much a personal preference man, and he does impose himself on his writing,sometimes giving us more of himself than the train journey.
In...
I always enjoy starting to read any of his books. I think The Great Railway Bazaar" was a better book than "Ghost".
Theroux is very much a personal preference man, and he does impose himself on his writing,sometimes giving us more of himself than the train journey.
In spite of that if one has a week or so his book is well worth reading. Recommended for its geographical and interactive inclusions.

posted by 3148130 on April 10, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Theroux has writtem much, too much of it overflows in this book.

    I always enjoy starting to read any of his books. I think The Great Railway Bazaar" was a better book than "Ghost".
    Theroux is very much a personal preference man, and he does impose himself on his writing,sometimes giving us more of himself than the train journey.
    In spite of that if one has a week or so his book is well worth reading. Recommended for its geographical and interactive inclusions.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 23, 2009

    Mid-Eastern and Far Eastern Travel Log PLUS

    Written from the perspective of a traveler with a "gift of gab" and insightful historical knowledge of the wide area traveled, Theroux is a good story teller and mixes his personal life with information that otherwise is lost in history books and buried in current newspaper events regarding the Middle East and Far East. Very objective in many parts, yet personalized with a touch of ego sometimes, this unique travel experience has been recreated from his earlier trip in around 1973-the comparisons are very interesting.

    The maps before and after text were very helpful while reading: My American education of the 1960's did not stress geography of these areas- this was a great tutorial for me (including the countries that have claimed new names in the government takeovers and/or expansion in the last three decades).

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 14, 2010

    Another Theroux Gem

    I've been a longtime fan of both his travel books and his earlier fiction. Am happy to say this book did not disappoint. A great read for both its coverage of the places he visits and the places he visits in his mind. Classic Theroux, a worthy successor to his earlier travel books. The story moves along with wit, humor, and insights into life. Well worth a place on your shelf.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2010

    Eurasian Snapshots

    In some parts of the book, the author's comments come across as a bit cranky and self-centered, but he generally provides a very readable and interesting mix of history, politics, literature, and the pleasures and difficulties of travel. He also has written interesting literary snapshots of about a dozen countries in Europe and Asia.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A mellower Thoreaux

    Thoreaux's travel books, while always fascinating in their ability to peel open the skin of a place, have always seemed to focus on the unpleasent or ugly such that one closed them with a bad taste in one's mouth. His latest, an account of a retrospective of a trip 30 years earlier, while unquestionably exposing his places and peoples "warts and all", finds in most locales something to admire or enjoy. In so doing he shows his subjects in a truer light, letting us see what makes their lives worth living.

    He travels by train not as a railfan, but as a means of living with the peoples whose lives he limns, striking up conversations with high and low indifferently alike, listening as they tell him everything about their lives and their countries and reporting from the perspective of one who has seen it all, and can provide his own frame of reference.

    This immersion in the lives of specific people is the book's strength and also its weakness. You see the countries he travels through through a knothole, obtaining a detailed but severely limited view. While you end feeling that you know the countries,, upon reflection what you really know is how the people he observes feel about their country.

    In the end it remains what was intended: a fascinating guide to the ambience of south and southeast Asia (despite his announced premise, his interest in his work flags as he procedes north into China, and vanishes utterly as he swings west through Russia), but to fully understand them in depth one must seek elsewhere.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 14, 2014

    Ghost Train to the Eastern Star Because I had enjoyed Theroux's

    Ghost Train to the Eastern Star
    Because I had enjoyed Theroux's earlier book, "Great Railway Bazaar," I was eagerly anticipating his sequel, "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star." What a letdown! In the former, readers are treated to a what is basically a journal of his experiences as he travels across Europe and Asia. We learn about diverse aspects of the countries to which he travels. Most of us will never go to these places personally, but vicariously accompanying the gifted Theroux via his book, was the next best thing. The book was refreshingly lacking in political agendae. However, I can't say the same for the followup book. "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star" was quite a disappointment, with its obvious political goals.  I may agree with Theroux with on many issues, but the "Ghost Train" book was neither the time nor the place to get bogged down in political diatribes of people who have an "axe to grind" against the (then-) U.S. government. Of course, occasional mention of political views is relevant to a book like this, but he should have given the book a political title, if he intended to continue to quote people's anger ad infinitum! If I want to hear that, I will turn on either Fox News or MSNBC. Perhaps these political sidetracks are the reason the book contains more than 500 pages. I will never know, for he lost me early on. I am sorry that I wasted my money, and I can't get that back. But at least I won't waste any more money on Theroux; I won't make the same mistake with any more of this author's works.

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  • Posted November 26, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    so-so

    didn't finish the book because I liked the author better when he was younger

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2010

    He threatened to kill his wife.

    This is the first book I have read by Paul Theroux. I picked it up, dove in and read voraciously for about the first 2/3s of the book. At the 2/3 point the book really slowed down and became rather uninteresting. I put it down for a while. When I picked it up again, after being away from home for about a year - he threatened to kill his wife. Violence it never appropriate. I have chosen to not finish this book and will probably never read a book by Mr. Theroux again.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 15, 2008

    Tired

    Re-read the Great Railway Bazzar. This one's a bit too self-conscious and more resembles a ride on your local commuter train. Need a new train or a new author.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2008

    Paul in his usual great style!

    Paul goes where most of us would almost fear to tread. Places we should know more about, especially in contemporary terms. Most of us know less than we should about these ex-iron curtain-surrounded countries. Reflecting on Paul's note on the large casualties in one city during Genghis Khan's invasion, I now wonder if this was a religious war effort in the early 13th century to eliminate rapidly-growing Islam. Khan has been presented as a barbarian in fact he was a red-haired, grey-blue eyed, Nestorian Christian.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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