Behind the Wall: A Journey through China

Overview

BEHIND THE WALL is a book as monumental as its subject: "the land of a billion uncomprehended people." Having learned Mandarin, and traveling alone by foot, bicycle and train, Colin Thubron set off on a 10,000 mile journey from Bejing to Tibet, from a tropical paradise near the Burmese border to the windswept wastes of the Gobi desert and the far end of the Great Wall.

What he reveals is an astonishing diversity, a land whose still unmeasured resources strain to meet an awesome ...

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Overview

BEHIND THE WALL is a book as monumental as its subject: "the land of a billion uncomprehended people." Having learned Mandarin, and traveling alone by foot, bicycle and train, Colin Thubron set off on a 10,000 mile journey from Bejing to Tibet, from a tropical paradise near the Burmese border to the windswept wastes of the Gobi desert and the far end of the Great Wall.

What he reveals is an astonishing diversity, a land whose still unmeasured resources strain to meet an awesome demand, and an ancient people still reeling from the devastation of the Cultural Revolution.

"Colin Thubron is an uncannily intuitive, resilient and enterprising traveler. He has wonderful funds of sympathy to bestow, yet can be appropriately cold-eyed. Altogether, he gives the impression of having the potential to become a legend within his own time." --Edward Hoagland

"Transcendentally gifted. . .one of the two or three best living travel writers." Jan Morris

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like a classical Chinese scroll, this book follows a meandering, atmospheric course through China's landscape. Thubron ( Where Nights Are Longest: Travels by Car Through Western Russia ) rambles from exuberant urban centers like Canton and Shanghai through intensively tilled farmlands to such lesser-known sites as the elegant canal city of Suzhou and through countless small towns and villages. With impressionistic color, vitality and immediacy, he creates images that linger in memory: monks performing a nocturnal candlelit ritual for the dead; Mao's birthplace, once thronged with Chinese pilgrims, now eerily deserted; the flamboyant beauty of tribal nomads. A fluent speaker of Mandarin, Thubron often breaks cultural barriers, talking candidly with and even visitng the homes of the people he encounters. Most express contentment with the relatively relaxed policies of their government, and their aspirations are openly materialistic. The author also visited a prison, a hospital, an art school where only Ming-dynasty painting is taught (``as though whole Western academies were to devote themselves to the style of Giotto . . . ''). The overall impression is of a pragmatic, complex people, engaged in a quiet stampede toward capitalism, rediscovering parts of their past and ready to forge their own future. (September)
Library Journal
After studying Mandarin so that he could communicate, Thubron traveled extensively on his own to many of the less visited (but no less interesting) places in China. Displaying a knack for recording conversations with the ordinary people he met on trains and in monasteries, Thubron is both perceptive and nonjudgmental. His book, reminiscent of Mark Salzman's Iron & Silk ( LJ 2/1/87), is less touristy than those of Paul Theroux and other travel writers. A top choice in a crowded field; for both public and academic libraries. Literary Guild alternate. Harold M. Otness, Southern Oregon State Coll. Lib., Ashland
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780708919828
  • Publisher: Ulverscroft Large Print Books, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 1/28/1989
  • Series: Travel Ser.
  • Pages: 666

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