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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.

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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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4.0 out of 5 stars return the plundered art work Nov. 10 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
A fascinating account of the plundering of art objects from the Silk Road. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the fascinating tale of the intrigue and scheming as well as the hazards of the laborious expeditions. However, as another reviewer has written, I think Hopkirk has missed the point in that removing these art objects has saved them for posterity. The stolen artifacts are China's patrimony, much like the Magna Carta for Britain, Russian Icons, Martin Luther's writings for Germany, The Bordeaux tapestry for France and the manuscript of the Genji Monogatari for Japan, they are the essence of a nation' cultural heritage and should not be plundered and stashed away in foreign museums! The time has come for these to be returned to their rightful owners so they can be studied and documented and kept for posterity. I commend the book otherwise.
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By Adoumri
Format:Paperback
It's easy to become enraptured by Hopkirk's romantic storytelling, but it's important not to forget that the "discoveries" of Sir Aurel Stein and others is tantamount to the theft of historical and cultural artifacts that do not belong to the European people. Like the plunder of religious objects of the Pacific Northwest Coast Indians and displaying them in museums like the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, European and Euro-American cultures have too long felt entitled to co-opt the "goods" of non-European cultures and do with them what they will. So-called "bartering" and "exchange" were often laced with half-hidden threats and intimidation.
The era of European domination is over, and it's time to return to those people what rightly belongs to them.
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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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