Riding the Iron Rooster: By Train Through China [NOOK Book]

Overview

Paul Theroux, the author of the train travel classics The Great Railway Bazaar and The Old Patagonian Express, takes to the rails once again in this account of his epic journey through China. He hops aboard as part of a tour group in London and sets out for China's border. He then spends a year traversing the country, where he pieces together a fascinating snapshot of a unique moment in history. From the barren deserts of Xinjiang to the ice forests of Manchuria, from the dense metropolises of Shanghai, Beijing, ...
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Riding the Iron Rooster: By Train Through China

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Overview

Paul Theroux, the author of the train travel classics The Great Railway Bazaar and The Old Patagonian Express, takes to the rails once again in this account of his epic journey through China. He hops aboard as part of a tour group in London and sets out for China's border. He then spends a year traversing the country, where he pieces together a fascinating snapshot of a unique moment in history. From the barren deserts of Xinjiang to the ice forests of Manchuria, from the dense metropolises of Shanghai, Beijing, and Canton to the dry hills of Tibet, Theroux offers an unforgettable portrait of a magnificent land and an extraordinary people.

In the bestselling novel The Mosquito Coast, Theroux took readers into the dark heart of the human soul. In the nonfiction title The Great Railway Bazaar, he took them to the far corners of the world. Now, he embarks on an unforgettable journey into enigmatic post-Cultural Revolution China for the most beguiling book on Asia since the adventures of Marco Polo.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Theroux (The Old Patagonian Express, The Great Railway Bazaar) spent a year exploring China by train, and his impressions about what has and has not changed in the country, as gathered in hundreds of conversations with Chinese citizens, make up a large portion of the book. The Cultural Revolution and the vandalism of the Red Guards have left scars on both the land and the people. Mao's death brought a collective sigh of relief from the population; reforms brought about under Deng Xiaoping have generally been welcomed. Still, this is not a political book. Whether describing his dealings with a rock-hard bureaucracy, musing over the Chinese flirtation with capitalismthey've ``turned the free market into a flea market''or commenting on the process of traveling, Theroux conducts the reader through this enormous country with wisdom, humor and a crusty warmth. Along the way are anecdotes about classic Chinese pornography (forbidden to the citizenry, but all right for ``foreign friends''); 35-below-zero weather; the Chinese penchant for restructuring nature; and the omnipresent thermos of hot water for making tea. The last chapter, ``The Train to Tibet,'' deals with the extremes to which the Chinese have gone in their attempts to subjugate the Tibetan people. Theroux develops an understanding of China through his travels, but he falls in love with Tibet. As in his previous works, he gives the reader much to relish and think about. BOMC featured selection. (May)
Library Journal
Theroux's penchant for train travel is well knownhis Great Railway Bazaar and The Old Patagonian Express are modern travel classics. On his latest jaunt he takes almost a year to crisscross China, traveling on 40 trains from the southern tropics to the wastelands of the Gobi in western Xinjiang to the dense metropolises of Shanghai, Beijing, and Canton. What emerges is a curious melange of ancient and modern: while some things are literally changing overnight, the Chinese still manufacture spittoons and steam engines. For Theroux, traveling is both about peopletheir thoughts, customs, and peculiaritiesand a form of autobiography, and here we learn as much about his own quirks and fancies as we do about the intriguing world of contemporary China. Laurence Hull, Cannon Memorial Lib., Concord, N.C.
From the Publisher
"[Theroux's] books have enriched the travel literature of this century...China, with its guard down, its buttons undone, and its fingers greasy, looks even more magical with a little of its mystery revealed." USA Today

"[A] very funny, beautifully written, wonderfully observant, and deeply insightful description of the vagaries of life and politics in China."—Conde Nast Traveler

"Fascinating...the portrait that emerges is a luminous, almost uncanny, and situationally accurate one. Theroux is particularly good at catching the surreal quality of China." The Miami Herald

"Theroux's genius is in his clear-eyed rendition of a fresh world and the deeper observations he attaches to it." The Chicago Tribune

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547526997
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 12/8/2006
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 205,403
  • File size: 817 KB

Meet the Author

Paul Theroux

PAUL THEROUX's highly acclaimed novels include Blinding Light, Hotel Honolulu, My Other Life, Kowloon Tong, and The Mosquito Coast. His travel books include Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Dark Star Safari, Riding the Iron Rooster, The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express, and The Happy Isles of Oceania. He lives in Hawaii and on Cape Cod.

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2003

    Somewhat disappointing

    <p>Finishing this book turned out to be a suprisingly difficult chore. While the writing is solid, Theroux takes on a superior attitude towards the people of China which wears thin half way through the book. He even goes to the point of scolding people for eating birds, a thing they've done for centuries. It is impressive that he took the time to learn the language, but too often uses it to tell people that they are doing something 'wrong'. <p>There is a lot of beauty in China that Theroux overlooked (or missed) in regards to culture, history, people, and places. He spends too much time discussing the results of the Cultural Revolution. In several instances he talks to former red guards seemingly attempting to coerce a confession that they were stupid for participating. <p>The train journeys were not described in detail. Mostly it was a description of where the ride began, ended, and descriptions of cabin mates and meals. Theroux is a great writer, but this is one of this lesser titles.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2001

    Too long

    There is too much politics in it. Didn't like the spitting customs in details. About the only good parts were all those 'ha-ha'-s.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2000

    Theroux's Best

    Totally engaging, witty, insightful with a history lesson of the cultural revolution. Ends with a pilgrimage to Tibet. I've read all of Theroux's travel books. He has taken travel writing to a new level and this one rules.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 6, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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