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GHOST TRAIN TO THE EASTERN STAR:
28,000 Miles in Search of the Railway Bazaar

Author: Paul Theroux
In Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Theroux recreates an epic journey he took thirty years ago and recorded in his book, The Great Railway Bazaar , a giant loop by train (mostly) through Eastern Europe, Turkey, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, China, Japan, and Siberia. In short, he traverses all of Asia top to bottom, and end to end. In the three decades since he first travelled this route, Asia has undergone phenomenal change. The Soviet Union has collapsed, China has risen, India booms, Burma slowly smothers, and Vietnam prospers despite the havoc unleashed upon it the last time Theroux passed through. He witnesses all this and more in a 25,000 mile journey, travelling as the locals do, by train, car, bus, and foot.

His odyssey takes him from Eastern Europe, still hungover from Communism, through tense but thriving Turkey, into the Caucasus, where Georgia limps back toward feudalism while its neighbour Azerbaijan revels in oil-driven capitalism. As he penetrates deeper into Asia’s heart, his encounters take on an otherworldly cast. The two chapters that follow show us Turkmenistan, a profoundly isolated society at the mercy of an almost comically egotistical dictator, and Uzbekistan, a ruthless authoritarian state. From there, he retraces his steps through India, Myanmar, China, and Japan, providing his penetrating observations on the changes these countries have undergone.

Brilliant, caustic, and totally addictive, this is Theroux at his best.

First published in 2008

From Publishers Weekly
Acclaimed travel writer and novelist Theroux hasn’t lost his affection for trains, but his view of the scenery outside has darkened in his latest odyssey. Reprising the itinerary of his 1973 The Great Railway Bazaar (with a detour around Iran and Afghanistan into the Central Asian republics), Theroux takes a contrarian stance toward the transformation of Asia over the intervening decades. The persistence of familiar, authentic, rural decrepitude usually heartens him, while the teeming modernity of great cities—the computer-and-oxcart madhouses of Mumbai and Bangalore, the neurotic orderliness of Singapore, the soullessness of Tokyo—appalls. The book is often an elegy for fixity in a globalizing age when everyone is a traveler anxious to get to America and “the world is deteriorating and shrinking to a ball of bungled desolation.” Fortunately, Theroux is too rapt an observer of his surroundings and himself to wallow long in reaction or nostalgia; readers will find his usual wonderfully evocative landscapes and piquant character sketches (and, everywhere, prostitutes soliciting him—most stylishly in Hanoi, where they ride up on motorcycles crying, “You come! Boom-boom!”). No matter where his journey takes him, Theroux always sends back dazzling post cards.
©

$15.95 (softcover)
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