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The Lost Camels of Tartary Paperback – July 1, 1999
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Top Customer Reviews
Where Mr. Hare really shines though is his access to locales normally off-limits to foreigners (i.e. "Lop Nur" or "Lop Nor", the Chinese nuclear weapons testing ground) and insights given to historical events not commonly known to Westerners (i.e. Russian mass executions of Outer Mongolian peoples). This is scare information that shouldn't be so readily dismissed!
Now, if the author has left you begging for more information on the ancient ruins in the Taklamakan and Gobi deserts, here are two other books which you might like:
1. "The Tarim Mummies", by J. P. Mallory and Victor H. Mair. The Tarim Mummies: Ancient China and the Mystery of the Earliest Peoples from the West
2. "The Mummies of Urumchi", by Elizabeth Wayland Barber.The Mummies of Urumchi
They don't discuss much about Bactrian Camels, but they do speak of the climate, ecology and history of the area, as well as the migrations of many different peoples. They would both tie-in nicely with Mr. Hare's book.
All in all, a good read by Mr. Hare. Am hoping he'll write another with further information on the Bactrians, hopefully with good news on their status...
I listened to John Hare speak at the Hay festival, and none of the other authors, big names included, spoke with the same passion or intensity, which is why I walked out at the end of his speech and purchased his book in the book tent.
That said, there are some true gems in this work. His description of the ruins of the ancient city of Lou Lan is intriguing, as is his description of other archeological sites. I was disappointed, though, that many of these fascinating places could have been dealt with in greater depth, and more photos could have been provided. In the end, I felt that the topic was very much "underdone."
There is little explanation of major issues surrounding this book, like the backgound events surrounding the creation of the Gashun Gobi nature reserve, or the means by which he was given permission to visit these areas. They just "miraculously" happened.
I bought it for the archeology and history, tolerated the camels, but felt a little cheated by a book which could have contained so much more.