All things old China - books, anecdotes, stories, podcasts, factoids & ramblings from the author Paul French

Colin Thubron’s The Amur River

Posted: November 29th, 2021 | No Comments »

Thubron’s recently published The Amur River: Between Russia and China has (I’m only 50 pages in so far…) some good background on twentieth century Mongolia and Buryatia….I should mention that the Amur remains a popular subject at the moment – Dominic Ziegler’s Black Dragon River was also very good and Franck Bille and Caroline Humphrey’s On the Edge: Life Along the Russia-China Border (out 10/12/21) too (I’ll blog on that later)….

The Amur River is almost unknown. Yet it is the tenth longest river in the world, rising in the Mongolian mountains and flowing through Siberia to the Pacific to form the tense, highly fortified border between Russia and China.

In his eightieth year, Colin Thubron takes a dramatic 3,000-mile long journey from the Amur’s secret source to its giant mouth. Harassed by injury and by arrest from the local police, he makes his way along both the Russian and Chinese shores on horseback, on foot, by boat and via the Trans-Siberian Railway, talking to everyone he meets. By the time he reaches the river’s desolate end, where Russia’s nineteenth-century imperial dream petered out, a whole, pivotal world has come alive.

The Amur River is a shining masterpiece by the acknowledged laureate of travel writing, an urgent lesson in history and the culmination of an astonishing career.

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