In case you didn’t know audio books are back in fashion – largely thanks to the people at Audible.com who’ve been making a wide range of stuff available as never before. Recently they’ve added nine books (yes, nine!) by a great favourite of mine (and if you’re a regular reader of this blog you too probably) Peter Fleming. So probably no need to explain him here – new audio book recordings include (as well as non-China related books worth a listen such as Brazilian Adventure and Operation Sea Lion):
Fleming in Tartary looking, well frankly, very cool…
One’s Company – Catching all the fascination and humour of travel in out-of-the-way places, One’s Company is Peter Fleming’s account of his journey through Russia and Manchuria to China when he was Special Correspondent to The Times in the 1930s. Fleming spent seven months with the “object of investigating the Communist situation in South China” at a time when, as far as he knew, “no previous journey had been made to the anti-communist front by a foreigner”, and on its publication in 1934, One’s Company won widespread critical acclaim. Packed with classic incidents – brake-failure on the Trans-Siberian Express, the Eton Boating Song singing lesson in Manchuria – One’s Company was among the forerunners of a whole new approach to travel writing.
To Peking – Peter Fleming, brother of James Bond author Ian Fleming, was one of the greatest adventurers and travel writers of the 20th century and author of several classic and best-selling books. This book presents an exciting adventure that could never be made today, and it will appeal to all interested in the region.
When in 1934 at the age of 27 Peter Fleming set out for the Far East, his ultimate goal was to return from China to India overland – a journey he later described in the classic News from Tartary. On his outward journey, Fleming travelled through regions which remain some of the most remote and least-visited in Asia and which, soon after his journey, became closed entirely to Westerners. From Moscow, through the Caucasus to the Caspian, on to Samarkand and Tashkent, skirting the edge of Outer Mongolia to Vladivostok and winding his way down to Peking, Fleming tells of people encountered, places explored, and of ways of life that have since been lost through revolution, war, and the passage of time. Along the way, he kept a diary that he never intended to publish and that lay forgotten ‘in the box-room’ of his mind for 15 years. To Peking is an unassuming classic of travel literature. Subtle yet sparkling with intelligence and humour, simple yet beautifully told, it illuminates a world that travellers – armchair or otherwise – can only dream of today.
Bayonets to Lhasa – The British invasion of Tibet in 1904 is one of the strangest events in British imperial history. Conceived by Lord Curzon as a strategic move in the Great Game – that colossal struggle between imperial Britain and Tsarist Russia for influence in Central Asia – the incursion was in fact ill-conceived and inspired by only the weakest of motivations. Led by the soldier, explorer and mystic, Francis Younghusband, the mission – doomed from the very beginning – became caught in political cross-fire and the distant and destructive machinations of China and Britain and ended in ignominy and disappointment for this idealistic adventurer. Peter Fleming’s gripping portrayal of this curious episode and its charismatic protagonists brilliantly illuminates what is now seen as a key moment in the Great Game, the repercussions of which continue to be felt throughout the region.
The Siege at Peking – In June 1900 the foreign legations at Peking were attacked by troops of the Boxer rebellion and Imperial Chinese troops. The ensuing siege lasted 55 days and shook the world. In this work, Peter Fleming traces its history and impact.