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A Fortune-Teller Told Me: Earthbound Travels in the Far East Paperback – April 23, 2002
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Terzani's odyssey across Asia is full of revelations and reflections on the dramatic changes underway in Asia. Having spent two decades on the continent, he brings a deep love for the place to his journeys, but also the eyes of someone troubled by the changes he sees. Burma and Laos, finally open to outside contact, are now funnels for AIDS and drugs; Thailand has been traumatized by its rapid development; China is an anarchy fueled by money rather than ideology, where Mao has been transformed into the god of traffic. Surrounded by the loss of diversity wrought by modernism, Terzani asks if the "missionaries of materialism and economic progress" aren't destroying the continent in order to save it. Fortunately, there is a flip side to his occasionally dispiriting commentary, one that Terzani discovers in his hunt for fortunetellers. Through his side trips to seers who read the soles of his feet, the ashes of incense, and even the burned scapula of sheep, it becomes clear that the Orient of legends, myths, and magic still determines people's lives as much as the quest for money. By staying earthbound, Terzani lived to tell of an extraordinary journey through the ever-shifting kaleidoscope of Asia.--Lesley Reed --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
As Terzani himself states in this book "It sometimes takes a Westerner to make sense of Asia" and I too have found this to be true. Unlike some misguided reviews that I have read about this book, Terzani is absolutely spot on in his anlysis and interpretations of Asia and its status quo.
"A fortune teller told me" is great travel literature, great socio-political commentary and food for the soul all at once. Here is a man in search of truth, travelling through the continent with the richest and oldest history, needlesly reinventing and destroying itself, its identity and its spirituality in order to catch up with the youngest and most money-orientated civilizations.
The West looks to the East for Answers and the East looks to the West for answers in this amazing book.
Two thumbs up!
Written by an Italian journalist who has lived in Asia for thirty or more years, it is the story of his travels in Asia during the year when he did not fly because a Hong Kong fortune teller told him that it would be dangerous for him to do so. His travels take him to Singapore, and through Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and other countries I haven't read about yet, because I haven't finished the book. Tarzani,the author, is clearly someone at home on the road. He has the advantage of speaking Chinese, which clearly makes it easier for him to make connections with local people. During his travels he seeks out fortune tellers, but what is most interesting are his observations of the changes taking place in Asia at the time. He makes several references to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism as a reaction to globalization and growing materialism.
He also observes the effects of the Chinese diaspora in Asia: how in many of the southeast asian countries the first and second and third generation Chinese control the economy. He seems to indirectly blame this element of the populace for the increased materialism and the loss of local values and customs.
One of the drawbacks of his point of view is that he embodies the stereotype of the macho Italian and seems unenlighted about the possibility that women could actually read his book. This comes to light as he despairs about the increased modernization of the world. After computers, what next? Will we dispense with women? Once we no longer need to think for ourselves, will we no longer need to procreate? he seems to say.
The book is food for thought and a wonderful travelogue, except when comments like that slip out.
Most people, in most countries, are somewhat fascinated by the accuracy of a fortune-teller - and this is the hook that Terzani uses to draw us in. Will the prophesy prove true (a plane of journalists does go down in Asia at one point early in the given year (a plane he would have been on) but no one dies.)? How accurate are fortune-tellers? The details of his many visits to these many people, and his descriptions of the peoples and places he is seeing as a result of not flying are all fascinating. One of the themes he continually returns to is the modernization of Asia and to some extent how that pains him (AIDS in Burma, cold-hearted money mongers in China, completely non-spiritual Mongolians).Read more ›
I agree with the reader from Singapore that he has seemingly ignored the benefits of modernization (even obvious ones such as improved healthcare, more education, etc.). Also, the comments throughout the book about the mercenary nature of the Chinese. While this is a book about his travels and not a text book, I felt the constant repetition of this viewpoint was not necessary.
The extreme poverty of a large number of people in Asia mean that they are primarily concerned with survival, but they are aware of their cultural heritage. While fortunate enough to be in the position to make his own choices (he later chose to stay in cheaper hotels, but he started off with the Oriental Hotel in Bangkok) many people in these countries do not have that luxury.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is hands down one of the best books that I have ever read. I loved every minute of it.Published 9 days ago by maureen riley
We absolutely love this author, we also read his book in which he goes on a journey to find a possible ancient / holistic cure for cancer. Sadly he was not successful. Read morePublished 5 months ago by customer B
I tried to read the whole book in one night but that is not a good tribute to the writer! It is an amazing story. Read morePublished 5 months ago by R L Feenstra
This book was suggested a few months back by one of my Facebook friends. It came with a recommendation, and as I value the comment of that erudite and sensitive individual, I... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Partho
This is a very interesting book, written by Tiziano Terzani, a remarkable man - an Italian journalist working as a war correspondent for Reuter, who spent most of his life in S-E... Read morePublished 9 months ago by D.B.
I learned so much about Asia .Not so interested in the horoscopePublished 10 months ago by shirley knapp
Very interesting and moving. His knowledge of Asia is useful to understand the backdrop to today's world situation.Published 10 months ago by Robert Stanley