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ASIA & THE PACIFIC
RIDING THE IRON ROOSTER:
By Train Through China
Author: Paul Theroux

Theroux, the author of the train travel classics The Great Railway Bazaar and The Old Patagonian Express, takes to the rails once again in this account of his epic journey through China. He hops aboard as part of a tour group in London and sets out for China's border. He then spends a year traversing the country, where he pieces together a fascinating snapshot of a unique moment in history. From the barren deserts of Xinjiang to the ice forests of Manchuria, from the dense metropolises of Shanghai, Beijing, and Canton to the dry hills of Tibet, Theroux offers an unforgettable portrait of a magnificent land and an extraordinary people.

First published in 1988

From Publishers Weekly
Theroux (The Old Patagonian Express , The Great Railway Bazaar ) spent a year exploring China by train, and his impressions about what has and has not changed in the country, as gathered in hundreds of conversations with Chinese citizens, make up a large portion of the book. The Cultural Revolution and the vandalism of the Red Guards have left scars on both the land and the people. Mao's death brought a collective sigh of relief from the population; reforms brought about under Deng Xiaoping have generally been welcomed. Still, this is not a political book. Whether describing his dealings with a rock-hard bureaucracy, musing over the Chinese flirtation with capitalism they've "turned the free market into a flea market" or commenting on the process of travelling, Theroux conducts the reader through this enormous country with wisdom, humor and a crusty warmth. Along the way are anecdotes about classic Chinese pornography (forbidden to the citizenry, but all right for "foreign friends"); 35-below-zero weather; the Chinese penchant for restructuring nature; and the omnipresent thermos of hot water for making tea. The last chapter, "The Train to Tibet," deals with the extremes to which the Chinese have gone in their attempts to subjugate the Tibetan people. Theroux develops an understanding of China through his travels, but he falls in love with Tibet. As in his previous works, he gives the reader much to relish and think about.
© 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.
$15.95 (softcover)
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