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Foreign Devils on Silk Road [Paperback]

Peter Hopkirk
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 26.78
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Book Description

Jan. 1 1984
The Silk Road, the great trans-Asian highway linking Imperial Rome to China, reached the height of its importance during the T'ang Dynasty. Along it travelled precious cargoes as well as new ideas, art and knowledge. Its oasis towns blossomed into thriving centres of trade. However, as the Chinese lost control of the region, it began to decline to the point where the towns disappeared beneath desert sands. Local legends grew of buried treasure guarded by demons. This is the story of the intrepid adventurers who, at great personal risk, led long-range archaeological raids to the region in the early years of the 20th century. Profiles of such archaeologists as Sir Aurel Stein, who carried off large quantities of priceless wall paintings, sculptures, silks and early manuscripts, augment a narrative which also traces the fate of the works of art that were removed.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Review

'Recounted with great skill ... opens a window onto a fascinating world' Financial Times 'Highly readable and elegant' Times Literary Supplement --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

8pp halftone plates --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
In Central Asia's back of beyond, where China tests her nuclear weapons and keeps a wary eye on her Russian neighbours, lies a vast ocean of sand in which entire caravans have been known to vanish without trace. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Game April 12 2004
Format:Paperback
Mr. Hopkirk in all of his works is accurate, profound and should be mandatory reading for all Foreign Service personnel. Having done Central Asia, the book was the "bible" in knowing the intimate details needed to not only do business in the post-Soviet era, but just in being able to discuss and move within the people where many thousands could not even bring voice to such concepts in the old days, which today are only "chatted" about in remote areas. Hopkirk rips at the fabric of humanity in what the west thinks is proper and what is reality in an eastern environment with its many passionate, intelligent, warm, and emotionally infectious people. I have read all of Peter's works several times and I continue to do so. You just have to be there to know that Hopkirk hits the nerve. It's just too much!!
G. Jannotta
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5.0 out of 5 stars Burglary in the back of beyond Jan. 20 2002
Format:Paperback
What can you say about Peter Hopkirk that really sums up why he's the guru of the Great Game and derring-do in Central Asia. It's quite hard to put it down to anything in particular, but I find myself gripped with a longing for adventure every time I lift his tales and start to read. The Raj, the Russians, wild holy men and camel trains in Gobi sands - it's all there and I just can't get enough of it.
Is it being British and longing to know how a nation of bunglers can ever come so close to ruling the universe? Or is it the sheer romantic lust for wide open spaces and seeing things no one has ever seen before - except of course the ones who live here? I don't know, but By Jings Foreign Devils on the Silk Road is about as romantic as you can get.
It's about the race to steal the treasures of north-western China at the turn of the twentieth century. Sir Aurel Stein, a Brit. of Hungarian birth, and Sven Hedin, a Swede with a bit of thing for dictators, began a thirty year competition to find and save for posterity the ninth century Buddhist art work that had lain under the sands of the Taklamakan and Gobi deserts for the best part of a millennium. It would change the West's understanding of Central Asian history and their linguistics for ever.
After Stein and Hedin there came the ever-brilliant French, the determined Germans and a very strange bunch of Japanese 'holy men' come spies. A Russian or two arrived a little late and the final curtain came down on an headstrong Yank who didn't quite get what he'd bargained for when the Chinese decided enough was enough.
All set off from Kashgar and travelled by camel into no man's land in search of cities long forgotten and swallowed up in sand dunes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars So where was Indiana Jones? May 6 2000
Format:Paperback
A mesmerising book, Hopkirk writes with a flair and passion that is infectious. The stories told by Hopkirk in 'Foreign Devils on the Silk Road' read like they belong in an Indiana Jones movie: Russian, French, Chinese, British and even Swedish(!) adventurers - heroes and villans both - competing to find the treasures of legendary cities buried for centuries beneath the trecherous sands of the Taklamakan desert. Exotic locations (still largely unknown to the Western world), rumours of supernatural forces protecting the buried cities - even the Indiana Jones-esque link to early Christian sects (the Nestorians) - it's all there! But it's more than just a "boy's own" adventure story: Hopkirk provides fascinating insights into the history of the ancient Silk Road as well as its latter intersection with the Great Game. I've been trying to figure out how to get to the Taklamakan ever since reading the book, which is now several years ago. This is history at its most readable.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fulfills the promise of its title. Recommended. Aug. 12 1998
Format:Paperback
Excellent coverage of the first outside researchers to visit Chinese Turkestan (Xinkiang) in hundreds of years. These were men who braved extreme hardships to explore one of the world's most desolate places, the Taklamakan Desert. Hopkirk avoids a blanket condemnation of those who removed to other countries the old Buddhist wall paintings/manuscripts/etc., noting that at least some of it would have been ruined had it stayed -- and had been ruined. Hopkirk also follows up on some of the interesting side issues: were the Japanese "archeologists" really spies, for instance. And he brings the reader up to date on what happened to the old treasures and where they are now, noting that much of what was once buried in the Taklamakan is now buried in storage at the British Museum. This is not a large book but I suspect a lot of research went into it. Concise, informative, and entertaining.
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