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Journey to Khiva: A Writer's Search for Central Asiaby Philip Glazebrook
Synopses & Reviews
AN EXPEDITION INTO THE HEART OF CENTRAL ASIA
Inspired by the great adventurers of the Victorian era and intrigued by the history of the Great Game-the century-long struggle between Britain and Russia to control Central Asia-Philip Glazebrook set out on his own journey to the fabled cities of Tashkent, Bokhara, Samarkand, and Khiva. Along the way he encountered remains of two other empires: the Soviet Union, whose spreading disorder was brought home by a terrifying attack in his Moscow hotel room, and the domain of Tamerlane, the thirteenth-century conqueror whose memory and monuments still dominate the imagination of the regions inhabitants Blending his own experiences with tales from earlier travelers, Glazebrook captures the color and fascination of a region where Europe and Asia have long met but never merged, a crucial crossroads from the days of the Silk Road to the present.
Like every great literary traveler, Philip Glazebrook has the ability to surprise his readers, reflecting the spontaneity of a journey through dangerous and unfamiliar terrain. In May of 1990 Glazebrook began an adventure that quickly became a sojourn through space and time - covering four thousand miles and a gallop across the centuries. As Glazebrook demonstrates in his compelling narrative, the inhabitants of these remote lands were members of a proud, conquering civilization long before the Soviet state was ever a gleam in Lenin's eye. Despite a seven-decade rule emanating from Moscow, Glazebrook learns that memories of Tamerlane, the thirteenth-century Central Asian ruler whose kingdom stretched from the Mediterranean to the Ganges, remain fresh and vivid throughout the region. On the eve of his odyssey, Glazebrook is startled in his Moscow hotel room when a knife-wielding thief attacks him. The description of this assault is utterly harrowing and leaves the reader nearly as breathless as the author. Miraculously retaining his historical perspective, Glazebrook later recasts his account of the attack in the prose style of a Victorian traveler. He reflects on the dangers that nineteenth-century adventurers faced, compared with the jeopardy in which modern travelers find themselves today. This arresting juxtaposition, spanning two centuries, jolts the reader into a deeper understanding of the nature of travel in any era. His wounds patched up, and wiser in the ways of the Moscow underworld, Glazebrook heads for the fabled cities of Tashkent, Bokhara, Samarkand, and Khiva. Here he discovers that the long shadows cast by the Great Game, Britain and Russia's nineteenth-century Cold War, remain real and powerful. Following the traces of earlier travelers, the author conveys an intimate knowledge of their adventures, salting his narrative with excerpts from their diaries and books. Sketching memorable characters and dramatic incidents among his Asian hosts, Glazebrook leads us ever closer to the essence of the region and its peoples. He invites his readers to imagine a Central Asia unfettered by European domination, whether British or Russian, in the nineteenth or the twentieth centuries. Nearing the climax of his quest, the author discovers Tamerlane's mausoleum on a hushed, twilit evening. Approaching the sun-dappled tomb and the glowing jadestone above the sepulchre, Glazebrook ushers his readers into the very heart of Central Asia.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 273-283) and index.
About the Author
PHILIP GLAZEBROOK's earlier books include Journey to Kars and Byzantine Honeymoon. He lives in Dorset, England.
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