Rising from the mountains of the Tibetan border, the river that is the symbolic heart of China courses through 3,900 miles of rugged country before emerging into the oily swells of the East China Sea. Connecting China’s heartland cities with the volatile coastal giant, Shanghai, the Yangtze has throughout history also linked China to the outside world through its nearly 1,000 miles of navigable waters. To travel those waters is to travel back in history, to sense the soul of China, and Simon Winchester takes us with him as he encounters the essence of the nation—its history and politics, its geography and climate.
He engages with the country’s culture and its people in remote and almost inaccessible places. Winchester recalls his passionate exploration of the countryside— employing nearly every mode of transportation, including boat, train, jeep and shoe leather—while providing important and engaging historical information. This is travel writing at its best: lively, informative and thoroughly enchanting.
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British born author Simon Winchester lived in Hong Kong before setting off on a journey up the Chang Jiang or Yangtze River as it is most often referred to in the West. In The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze and Back in Chinese Time, he chronicles his adventures across China along the 3,964-mile River. Employing nearly every mode of transportation--including boat, train, jeep and shoe leather--Winchester recalls his passionate exploration of the countryside, while providing important and engaging historical information. His recollections of the Chinese people are often less complimentary, as he exudes an air of disgust at the country's apparent disregard for pollution, its awkward modern architecture and decaying historical monuments.From the Back Cover:
It is the symbolic heart of China. Rising in the mountains of the Tibetan border, it pierces 3,900 miles of rugged country before debouching into the oily swells of the East China Sea. Its path embraces every geographic feature and almost every ethnic group, and its banks are home to both scenic splendor and foul industrial pollution. Connecting China's heartland cities with that volatile coastal giant Shanghai, it has also historically connected China to the outside world through its nearly one thousand miles of navigable waters. And to travel up those waters is to travel back in history, to sense the soul of China. Long off-limits to foreigners, the far reaches of the Yangtze are still off-limits to most tourists and travelers simply by dint of the difficulty in traversing the terrain. But, for Simon Winchester, traveling the length of this mighty river was a lifelong dream and, together with a Chinese companion, he set out to do just that. The result is this unforgettable portrait of China. Endlessly curious, urbane, witty, and knowledgeable, Winchester introduces us to a world we might otherwise have missed. To follow him on his adventures up the Yangtze is to experience the essence of China - to absorb its flavors as well as learn its history and politics, to feel its geography and climate as well as engage in its culture, and to meet up en route with uncommon people in remote and almost inaccessible places. This is travel writing at its best: lively and informative, amusing and thoroughly engaging.
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