Book Review: Shadow of the Silk Road

Shadow of the Silk Road
9.4 of 10
by Colin Thubron

My father and his father were travel nuts and history buffs. Traveling is part of their work and their work pays for their travels. They also like digging the history, through people or books, of the places they're visiting. Point any country in the map and they'll probably know something about the history of that place. But I, on the other hand, am a shut in. I'd rather stay at the comfort of my home, fiddling with my guitar and PC games. But that doesn't mean I took to my mother's side entirely. Because even though I'm not a history buff like my dad and my grandfather, I like history too. That's why I enjoyed reading a travel book like Shadow of the Silk Road, because of the history it presented.

I don't read travel books. I don't think I'll like, or even understand, them. But Shadow of the Silk Road is of a different ilk. I only picked it up since, for the longest time now, I wanted to know the history of the trade routes that heavily contributed to the great civilizations such as China, Rome, Persia etc. But, to my delight, I got more than just a travel book. Colin Thubron, the author of the book, writes a lot of interesting things about the places he visited along the Silk Road, without overwhelming the reader, from its obscure history and various interviews of its inhabitants. He also compares the current state of the places, especially the communist states, to the time during his initial visit, 20 years ago, when Communism was still in reign.

Shadow of the Silk Road is, by far, the best book I've read this year. The author just writes so fluidly and covers a lot of topic. At one point he's eating noodles in China, talking about politics and history, and before you know it he'll be in the tomb of Gawhar Shad in Afghanistan, talking about culture and religion. But best of all, I learned a lot of cool stuff in this book. Like how much China has progressed in just 20 years, and yet some of its regions are still desolate. Or that a village in Northwestern China, now known as Zhelaizhai, has inhabitants with Caucasian traits, which are theorized to be the descendants of Roman soldiers that has settled in that area a long time ago. If you're into traveling or in Asian history, then I highly recommend this book.

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RONeiluke, RN said...

wow...this should be included in my reading list :)

China is such a huge country that i has, as of now, 50+ ethnic tribes...hat includes the Caucasians in the north.