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Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar

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Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar Cover

ISBN13: 9780618418879
ISBN10: 0618418873
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Review-A-Day

"The Great Railway Bazaar re-invested railway travel with the interest and romance of Twain's day, replacing that age's thrill of the modern with the appeal of the neglected and quaint....Now, in Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, he revisits the scenes of his original great railway journey thirty-three years earlier, intending then-and-now comparisons, not least between his younger and older selves." Ian Jack, the New York Review of Books (read the entire New York Review of Books review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

An unmitigated treat for the hundreds of thousands of fans of the first Bazaar.

In The New Railway Bazaar, Theroux recreates an epic journey he took thirty years ago, 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, Mayanmar, China, and Japan, providing his penetrating observations on the changes these countries have undergone.

Brilliant, caustic, and totally addictive, The New Railway Bazaar is Theroux at his very best.

Review:

"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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

In 1973, Paul Theroux was down on his luck. As he says in his revealingly autobiographical new travel book, "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star," his early life had been full of humiliation and failure, and he writes with feeling of "my nagged and scolded childhood, my undistinguished school career as a punk, no good at games, bewildered in college, terminated early from the Peace Corps, disgraced from... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"[P]laces include everything from porn shops to sex traffickers. In short, this is not light reading. Nevertheless, Theroux is an important American writer." Library Journal

Review:

"A wonderful book infused with the insights of maturity, this succeeds on many levels while also doing what the best travel writing can't help but do: make the reader want to hit the road." Booklist

Review:

"Fans of Theroux will say that he hasn't lost his touch; the more critical will say that he breaks no new ground. Either way, worth looking into." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"I heartily recommend Paul Theroux's Ghost Train to the Eastern Star to every benighted passenger who has struggled aboard a jammed flight after hours of the delays and cancellations that are the daily staple of air travel today. In its provocative and diverting pages, you will be reminded how much you have lost besides wasted hours in dreary airports." Philadelphia Inquirer

Review:

"[T]here is still much pleasure in accompanying this writer down familiar train tracks and across still exotic landscapes." Chicago Tribune

Review:

"Mr. Theroux rarely misses a chance to complain about the roiling indigenous crowds or tartly abuse the lobster-faced European pleasure seekers and fat American missionaries who cross his path." New York Times

Review:

"Theroux's provocative new volume...will by necessity take its place on the shelf next to the most renowned travel book of his early career." rocky Mountain News

Review:

"Theroux reflects brilliantly on the jarring surreal juxtapositions of the tribal and the corporate, the primitive and the high-tech." Boston Globe

Review:

"Brightly rendered and endlessly informative, it serves up one sharp, insightful anecdote or historical tidbit after another." Seattle Times

Review:

"Theroux's quick assessments of national character might offend some, but veteran readers will find the author true to his rather dim view of human motives." Milwaukee Star Tribune

Synopsis:

Paul Theroux returns to the transcontinental expedition that made Great Railway Bazaar a classic of travel literature and realizes—in rich, anecdotal detail—how much the world has changed.

 

Half a lifetime ago, Paul Theroux virtually invented the modern travel narrative by recounting his grand tour by train through Asia. In the three decades since, the world he recorded in that book has undergone phenomenal change. The Soviet Union has collapsed and China has risen; India booms while Burma smothers under dictatorship; Vietnam flourishes in the aftermath of the havoc America was unleashing on it the last time he passed through. In Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Theroux re-creates that earlier journey. His odyssey takes him from eastern Europe, still hung-over from communism, through tense but thriving Turkey into the Caucasus, where Georgia limps back toward feudalism while its neighbor Azerbaijan revels in oil-fueled capitalism. Theroux is firsthand witness to it all, encountering adventures only he could have: from the literary (sparring with the incisive Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk) to the dissolute (surviving a week-long bender on the Trans-Siberian Railroad). Wherever he goes, his omnivorous curiosity and unerring eye for detail never fail to inspire, enlighten, inform, and entertain.

Synopsis:

Thirty years after the epic journey chronicled in his classic work The Great Railway Bazaar, the worlds most acclaimed travel writer re-creates his 25,000-mile journey through eastern Europe, central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, China, Japan, and Siberia.

Half a lifetime ago, Paul Theroux virtually invented the modern travel narrative by recounting his grand tour by train through Asia. In the three decades since, the world he recorded in that book has undergone phenomenal change. The Soviet Union has collapsed and China has risen; India booms while Burma smothers under dictatorship; Vietnam flourishes in the aftermath of the havoc America was unleashing on it the last time Theroux passed through. And no one is better able to capture the texture, sights, smells, and sounds of that changing landscape than Theroux.

Therouxs odyssey takes him from eastern Europe, still hung-over from communism, through tense but thriving Turkey into the Caucasus, where Georgia limps back toward feudalism while its neighbor Azerbaijan revels in oil-fueled capitalism. Theroux is firsthand witness to it all, traveling as the locals do—by stifling train, rattletrap bus, illicit taxi, and mud-caked foot—encountering adventures only he could have: from the literary (sparring with the incisive Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk) to the dissolute (surviving a week-long bender on the Trans-Siberian Railroad). And wherever he goes, his omnivorous curiosity and unerring eye for detail never fail to inspire, enlighten, inform, and entertain.

PAUL THEROUX was born in Medford, Massachusetts, in 1941 and published his first novel, Waldo, in 1967. His fiction includes The Mosquito Coast, My Secret History, My Other Life, Kowloon Tong, Blinding Light, and most recently, The Elephanta Suite. His highly acclaimed travel books include Riding the Iron Rooster, The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express, Fresh Air Fiend, and Dark Star Safari. He has been the guest editor of The Best American Travel Writing and is a frequent contributor to various magazines, including The New Yorker. He lives in Hawaii and on Cape Cod.

About the Author

Paul Theroux's highly acclaimed books include Dark Star Safari, Riding the Iron Rooster, The Old Patagonian Express, The Elephanta Suite, and, of course, The Great Railway Bazaar. Two of his books, The Mosquito Coast and Dr. Slaughter have been made into successful films. He is a frequent contributor to magazines, including the New Yorker, Smithsonian and Men's Journal. He divides his time between Cape Cod and Hawaii where he is a professional beekeeper.

Table of Contents

Contents 1. The Eurostar 1 2. The Other Orient Express 14 3. The Ferry to Besiktas 40 4. Night Train to Ankara 59 5. Night Train to Tbilisi 68 6. Night Train to Baku: The Trans-Caucasian 88 7. Night Train from Ashgabat to Mary 103 8. Night Train to Tashkent 136 9. The Shan-e-Punjab Express to Delhi 146 10. Night Train to Jodhpur: The Mandore Express 164 11. Night Train to Jaipur 182 12. Night Train to Mumbai: The “Superfast” Express 193 13. Night Train to Bangalore: The Udyan Express 210 14. The Shatabdi Express to Chennai 225 15. The Coastal Line to Galle and Hambantota 237 16. The Slow Train to Kandy 258 17. Ghost Train to Mandalay 265 18. The Train to Pyin-Oo-Lwin 283 19. Night Train to Nong Khai 295 20. Night Train to Hat Yai Junction: Special Express 309 21. Night Train to Singapore: The Lankawi Express 316 22. The Slow Train to the Eastern Star 341 23. The Boat Sontepheap to Phnom Penh 351 24. The Mekong Express 367 25. Night Train to Hue 376 26. The Day Train to Hanoi 387 27. Tokyo Andaguraundo 400 28. Night Train to Hokkaido: Hayate Super Express 422 29. The Limited Express: Sarobetsu to Wakkanai 428 30. Night Train to Kyoto: The Twilight Express 440 31. The Trans-Siberian Express 460 32. Night Train to Berlin and Beyond 493

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Robert Schindler, March 5, 2009 (view all comments by Robert Schindler)
This is a much brighter perspective than Theroux had in "Railway Bazaar"; the reader will get far more out of the book if he has read its predecessor. Theroux's musings and reminisces, as well as his perspective on the many places he visits and people he meets, make this well worth the time. I was disappointed when I finished it, only because I wouldn't have more to read!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 7 readers found this comment helpful)
Elizabeth Gelean, January 12, 2009 (view all comments by Elizabeth Gelean)
I have not read this book but I am extremely interested in it. The reviews are wonderful, the thought of a trip of that nature not once but twice is mind-boggling at the very least. There would obviously be tremendous changes along the route. Thank you for featuring it on Review A Day, it is now a #1 must on my to read list! I rated it on my impressions.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(4 of 9 readers found this comment helpful)
catfish, October 14, 2008 (view all comments by catfish)
Paul Theroux makes travels through even the most forbidding countries fascinating. It is his insights into the culture, politics, everyday life and people of each place he visits that makes his writing more than mere description of travel but real social commentary. And in this current trip, a revisiting of his journey in The Great Railway Bazaar, he explores views of America held by the people he meets along the way. A lot has changed since his previous trip but a lot has remained the same.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(7 of 13 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 3 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780618418879
Subtitle:
On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar
Author:
Theroux, Paul
Author:
Theroux, Paul
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Subject:
Asia - General
Subject:
Railroad travel
Subject:
Asia
Subject:
Travel
Subject:
Asia Description and travel.
Subject:
Theroux, Paul - Travel - Asia
Subject:
| Travel | Asia
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20080818
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
512
Dimensions:
8 x 5.31 in 1.04 lb

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Related Subjects


Transportation » Railroads » General
Travel » Asia » General
Travel » Travel Writing » General

Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$6.50 In Stock
Product details 512 pages Houghton Mifflin Company - English 9780618418879 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "The Great Railway Bazaar re-invested railway travel with the interest and romance of Twain's day, replacing that age's thrill of the modern with the appeal of the neglected and quaint....Now, in Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, he revisits the scenes of his original great railway journey thirty-three years earlier, intending then-and-now comparisons, not least between his younger and older selves." (read the entire New York Review of Books review)
"Review" by , "[P]laces include everything from porn shops to sex traffickers. In short, this is not light reading. Nevertheless, Theroux is an important American writer."
"Review" by , "A wonderful book infused with the insights of maturity, this succeeds on many levels while also doing what the best travel writing can't help but do: make the reader want to hit the road."
"Review" by , "Fans of Theroux will say that he hasn't lost his touch; the more critical will say that he breaks no new ground. Either way, worth looking into."
"Review" by , "I heartily recommend Paul Theroux's Ghost Train to the Eastern Star to every benighted passenger who has struggled aboard a jammed flight after hours of the delays and cancellations that are the daily staple of air travel today. In its provocative and diverting pages, you will be reminded how much you have lost besides wasted hours in dreary airports."
"Review" by , "[T]here is still much pleasure in accompanying this writer down familiar train tracks and across still exotic landscapes."
"Review" by , "Mr. Theroux rarely misses a chance to complain about the roiling indigenous crowds or tartly abuse the lobster-faced European pleasure seekers and fat American missionaries who cross his path."
"Review" by , "Theroux's provocative new volume...will by necessity take its place on the shelf next to the most renowned travel book of his early career."
"Review" by , "Theroux reflects brilliantly on the jarring surreal juxtapositions of the tribal and the corporate, the primitive and the high-tech."
"Review" by , "Brightly rendered and endlessly informative, it serves up one sharp, insightful anecdote or historical tidbit after another."
"Review" by , "Theroux's quick assessments of national character might offend some, but veteran readers will find the author true to his rather dim view of human motives."
"Synopsis" by , Paul Theroux returns to the transcontinental expedition that made Great Railway Bazaar a classic of travel literature and realizes—in rich, anecdotal detail—how much the world has changed.

 

Half a lifetime ago, Paul Theroux virtually invented the modern travel narrative by recounting his grand tour by train through Asia. In the three decades since, the world he recorded in that book has undergone phenomenal change. The Soviet Union has collapsed and China has risen; India booms while Burma smothers under dictatorship; Vietnam flourishes in the aftermath of the havoc America was unleashing on it the last time he passed through. In Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Theroux re-creates that earlier journey. His odyssey takes him from eastern Europe, still hung-over from communism, through tense but thriving Turkey into the Caucasus, where Georgia limps back toward feudalism while its neighbor Azerbaijan revels in oil-fueled capitalism. Theroux is firsthand witness to it all, encountering adventures only he could have: from the literary (sparring with the incisive Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk) to the dissolute (surviving a week-long bender on the Trans-Siberian Railroad). Wherever he goes, his omnivorous curiosity and unerring eye for detail never fail to inspire, enlighten, inform, and entertain.

"Synopsis" by ,
Thirty years after the epic journey chronicled in his classic work The Great Railway Bazaar, the worlds most acclaimed travel writer re-creates his 25,000-mile journey through eastern Europe, central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, China, Japan, and Siberia.

Half a lifetime ago, Paul Theroux virtually invented the modern travel narrative by recounting his grand tour by train through Asia. In the three decades since, the world he recorded in that book has undergone phenomenal change. The Soviet Union has collapsed and China has risen; India booms while Burma smothers under dictatorship; Vietnam flourishes in the aftermath of the havoc America was unleashing on it the last time Theroux passed through. And no one is better able to capture the texture, sights, smells, and sounds of that changing landscape than Theroux.

Therouxs odyssey takes him from eastern Europe, still hung-over from communism, through tense but thriving Turkey into the Caucasus, where Georgia limps back toward feudalism while its neighbor Azerbaijan revels in oil-fueled capitalism. Theroux is firsthand witness to it all, traveling as the locals do—by stifling train, rattletrap bus, illicit taxi, and mud-caked foot—encountering adventures only he could have: from the literary (sparring with the incisive Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk) to the dissolute (surviving a week-long bender on the Trans-Siberian Railroad). And wherever he goes, his omnivorous curiosity and unerring eye for detail never fail to inspire, enlighten, inform, and entertain.

PAUL THEROUX was born in Medford, Massachusetts, in 1941 and published his first novel, Waldo, in 1967. His fiction includes The Mosquito Coast, My Secret History, My Other Life, Kowloon Tong, Blinding Light, and most recently, The Elephanta Suite. His highly acclaimed travel books include Riding the Iron Rooster, The Great Railway Bazaar, The Old Patagonian Express, Fresh Air Fiend, and Dark Star Safari. He has been the guest editor of The Best American Travel Writing and is a frequent contributor to various magazines, including The New Yorker. He lives in Hawaii and on Cape Cod.

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