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Journeys on the Silk Road: A Desert Explorer, Buddha's Secret Library, and the Unearthing of the World's Oldest Printed Book Hardcover – September 4, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Lyons Press (September 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0762782978
  • ISBN-13: 978-0762782970
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #544,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

What traveler doesn’t yearn to set the first foot on untraversed territory and to discover the rarest gem of all, that which no human has laid eyes upon for a thousand years? Morgan and Conrad allow the reader to accomplish the next best thing. In this expressive account, they and, by proxy, we follow the footsteps of archeologist Aurel Stein as he explores the remains of cultures along the ancient trade route known as the Silk Road. Traveling this legendary trail in the early years of the twentieth century, the intrepid Stein made discoveries that rival the great tombs of Egypt in sheer beauty and human achievement, to say nothing of in terms of the evidence of remarkable commingling of East and West in commerce, art, and philosophy. The excitement mounts as Stein faces strife and competition to unearth and claim such rare antiquities as the Diamond Sutra, a printed paper book predating the Gutenberg Bible by 600 years. The good if somewhat worrisome news is that these invaluable sites, long reserved for the most elite traveler, have become easily accessible and hugely popular. --Donna Chavez

Review

"A high-velocity tale of epic adventure." --Sydney Morning Herald

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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This book held my attention.
Alice A. Paulson
This is a very well written book which is exciting to read even though it is non fiction.
Rhodgava
The authors' vast and detailed research is evident in every page of the book.
LadyInRead

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Samantha Selinger-Morris on September 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Before picking up this book, I didn't even know that I WANTED to know anything about the Silk Road, the Buddha's secret library or the Diamond Sutra (the world's oldest printed book). But thanks to this rollicking good read, I now do.

This book is a rarity: an educational read without one didactic note. Morgan and Walters anchor their story around the journey of Aurel Stein, a Hungarian explorer desperate to reach the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, near Dunhuang, in China.

Journeys on the Silk Road is a must-read for anyone who's even remotely interested in the topic. Or, alternatively, for anyone who wants to impress at their next cocktail party/yoga retreat/moment of human contact.
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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful By M. L Lamendola VINE VOICE on October 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Prior to the advent of steam-engine ships, the silk road provided the only viable trade route between Europe and China (also India). Thus, for centuries, it was a vital overland crossing. It's important to note that China had several industrial secrets, among them the production of silk. This gave China a monopoly on silk, and this particular monopoly gave rise to the practice of calling this route the Silk Road. China also had a monopoly on paper for quite some time, and it was an important source of various spices and other goods.

Because Buddhism spread from India throughout much of Asia before retracting/retreating mainly to Tibet, the Silk Road also became a repository for Buddhist writings. This book's focus is on the retrieval of many of those writings by Hungarian-British archaeologist Aurel Stein in the early 20th Century. Stein was later knighted, so he is properly referred to as Sir Stein. His dog Dash (he had several dogs, each named Dash except for one who was named Dash the Great). The last Dash died after being run over by a bus in England, but Sir Stein, born in 1862 died peacefully in 1943. Stein doesn't strike the popular imagination for several reasons, and the authors explain that in this book.

Having never heard of it before, I had no idea what this sutra meant. Morgan and Walters solved that problem. They provide opinions from various experts, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It added to my reading experience to go beyond the "here's what happened a century ago" to "here's what it means today.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Viviane Crystal VINE VOICE on September 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Here is the account about Aurel Stein, the archaeologist, and his dog, Dash, and their astounding journey across what is known as the Silk Road, a journey traversing China, Tibet, India and more lands. Funded by the British government, Stein's job was to look for valuable pieces that would add to Great Britain's museum collection; but Stein's interests lay in a different direction. So he found no difficulty finding enough "gems," figuratively speaking to make his funders happy. But the rest of the story is magical and adventurous, and Morgan & Walters leave no stone unturned (literally and figuratively) in describing the preparation, journey, and eventual findings that riveted Stein. Indeed those discoveries are still touching the lives of millions of readers, explorers, adventurers, and tourists, professional and lay included.

The authors describe how Stein's first journeys to Central Asia led him to wonder where the first Buddhist writings could be found and how that religion was transformed as it began in India and evolved into its state in China. As the journey across deserts and mountains was so vigorous and life-threatening, the authors describe how selective Stein was in choosing his aides. Sometimes the decisions proved pivotal and once almost disastrous. The descriptions are so vivid the reader can feel the storms, heat, brutal cold and other forces of nature such as avalanches that defy the imagination but which were survived by Stein and his team.

Stein first is entranced by the artifacts inside Lahore Museum, ancient Buddhist statues, amazingly with decidedly Western features. Then the murder of the Scottish adventurer, Andrew Dalgleish, makes Stein realize what treasures existed so that others would murder anyone seeking to find those treasures.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Pete Beeble on September 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Extensive research is evident throughout and is melded into a compelling narrative that keeps the reader interest growing and eager to continue this remarkable journey. The authors description of Aurel Stein brings him to life in one's mind and it is a simple task to imagine the dedication, courage and resolve that he brings to his task.

The main theme of the book is the journey to the discovery of ancient scrolls, one if which is found to be a printed version of the Buddhist Diamond Sutra. This version is shown to be hundreds of years older than the Gutenberg Bible, previously thought to be the world's oldest printed book. While the adventure story is intriguing, the ancillary discourse informs of the history of Buddhism, its tenets and beliefs, and the geographical perils of crossing the Gobi.

For the average Westerner, versed mostly in European heritage, this is indeed a thought provoking treatise. The history buff will find this book entertaining and enlightening.
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