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  • Published: 3 December 2007
  • ISBN: 9780099437222
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $22.99

Shadow of the Silk Road

(Vintage Voyages)

Colin Thubron has been described as 'one of the two or three best living travel writers, in some ways probably the best' - Independent

A journey along the greatest land route on earth, from the master of travel writing Colin Thubron

On buses, donkey carts, trains, jeeps and camels, Colin Thubron traces the drifts of the first great trade route out of the heart of China into the mountains of Central Asia, across northern Afghanistan and the plains of Iran into Kurdish Turkey. Covering over 7000 miles in eight months Thubron recounts extraordinary adventures - a near-miss with a drunk-driver, incarceration in a Chinese cell during the SARS epidemic, undergoing root canal treatment without anaesthetic in Iran - in inimitable prose. Shadow of the Silk Road is about Asia today; a magnificent account of an ancient world in modern ferment.

'It is hard to think of a better travel book written this century' Times

  • Published: 3 December 2007
  • ISBN: 9780099437222
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384
  • RRP: $22.99

About the author

Colin Thubron

Colin Thubron is an acknowledged master of travel writing, and the winner of many prizes and awards. His first writing was about the Middle East - Damascus, Lebanon and Cyprus. In 1982 he travelled into the Soviet Union in an ancient Morris Marina, pursued by the KGB, a journey he recorded in Among the Russians. From these early experiences developed his classic travel books: Behind the Wall (winner of the Hawthornden Prize and the Thomas Cook Travel Award), The Lost Heart of Asia, In Siberia (Prix Bouvier) and Shadow of the Silk Road. His most recent book is To a Mountain in Tibet (all available in Vintage). Colin Thubron was President of the Royal Society of Literature from 2010 to 2017.

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Praise for Shadow of the Silk Road

To those of us addicted to the thrill of travel, that unique and irresistible rush induced by journeying into the unknown, Colin Thubron is God....his socio-political savvy is impeccable, his local knowledge faultless...What a journey, what a book

Jeffrey Taylor, Sunday Express

Thubron makes his way with an appealing blend of self-doubt and erudition; he is willing, he is patient,; he knows he cannot resolve but he can attempt to decipher.... He is the reliable storyteller we needed in place of Marco Polo. His stock in trade makes him invaluable to us

Independent on Sunday

It is hard to think of a better travel book written this century

The Times

Shadow of the Silk Road is a work of boundless riches. Every paragraph carries a captivating phrase...offering up an understanding of our world today that is as immediate as tomorrow's news, yet infinitely profound

Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday

One of Thubron's great strengths is his compassion...his shimmering prose creates a wonderful book, so multilayered that, when I reached the end, I wanted to read it all over again

Sunday Times

A poetic volume - interesting, shocking and deeply engaging, the work of a mature writer at the top of his game

Sara Wheeler, Daily Telegraph

Thubron is a very hardy traveller, and a very fine writer...[it is] a book of exceptional erudition, adventure and elegance

Robert Macfarlane, Spectator

An exquisitely written work of great profundity


Rich in humour, compassion and history, another confirmation, if any more were needed, that Thubron is the pre-eminent travel writer of his generation

Sunday Telegraph

Haunting, elegiac, melancholy, magical

Financial Times

Shadow of the Silk Road is an astonishing achievement - both the journey and the book. Mr Thubron's tenacity, endurance, stamina and erudition metamorphose into exquisite prose. This is harder to achieve than one might think and can only be the result of huge effort and skill


Impresses with its scholarship and literary craft


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