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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating look at China from the edges
I could tell this was a fascinating book even before I finished because of the number of people I told about it. It is a chronicle of a journey around the borders of China, the places where ‘the emperor is always far away’. I learned a lot of fascinating things. China today is much larger than China 100 or 200 or even 300 years ago. Most people know about...
Published 6 months ago by Lori Reeser

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Still Worth the Effort
This book is essentially a personal travelogue chocked full of strong opinions. Eimer spends the first third of the book complaining about how the Uyghurs are being treated, punctuated by his own personal adventures in Xinjiang. Then he does the same for Tibet, Yunnan and Dongbei. Everywhere he goes he finds crimes against the local people perpetrated by the central...
Published 1 month ago by Ron Webb


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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating look at China from the edges, July 15, 2014
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This review is from: The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China (Hardcover)
I could tell this was a fascinating book even before I finished because of the number of people I told about it. It is a chronicle of a journey around the borders of China, the places where ‘the emperor is always far away’. I learned a lot of fascinating things. China today is much larger than China 100 or 200 or even 300 years ago. Most people know about Tibet, but it’s far from being the only recently acquired land (and people). In many ways it reminds me of the USA in the 1870s. The whites wanted the Indians to become 'civilized', which meant being like the whites. This is China’s policy towards all non-Han groups. (The Han are the ‘typical’ Chinese and the vast majority of the population.) It is also most Hans opinion of the minorities.

Things I learned :
The borders are a lot more porous than I expected, especially for the locals. The exception is Tibet.

There are a lot of non-Han people in China. Most of them live on the edges and are much poorer than the Han.

The boundaries were decided after World War I by the victorious British and French. (They also did the Balkans and the Middle East. Notice a pattern?)

China is succeeding in the far west (Tibet and ‘Uigher-land’) by out-populating the natives.

The reason North Korea is still around is that China wants a buffer state.

China is not succeeding in the southeast, near Laos, Thailand and Myanmar. That area is still controlled by drug lords.

The minorities in the southeast seem to be surviving by camouflage (something many California native tribes did.)

I received this as a Goodreads give-away.

It was difficult to find most of these places on the map, and I have large scale maps of China! Maps will be added which will make it easier, but it helped me realize how huge China is and how remote these places are.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating tour of China's borders, July 16, 2014
This review is from: The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China (Hardcover)
As someone fascinated by China, and more especially by China’s border regions, I have been looking forward to a book like David Eimer’s The Emperor Far Away. I was sceptical that he would be able to do such a vast geographical and social canvas proper justice, despite his obvious familiarity with the Middle Kingdom. But I was wrong.

The Emperor Far Away is a superb book; it mixes up-close-and-personal travel writing with a sensitive take on the geopoltical realities of the positioning of the world’s most up-and-coming political power. I’ve travelled around China extensively, but Eimer gets deeper, and does it better, and I found his insights thought-provoking and valuable. A truly important read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just finished reading! I’ve read a lot of travel ..., July 30, 2014
This review is from: The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China (Hardcover)
Just finished reading! I’ve read a lot of travel books, and I thought I knew a decent amount about China. WRONG. This book completely changed the way I look at China. Eimer traveled to the farthest borders and the most interesting nooks and crannies. After reading this book, I can honestly say I feel excited about traveling again.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Emperor Far Away by David Eimer, July 25, 2014
This review is from: The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China (Hardcover)
I have to confess, I've never been interested in traveling to China, nor reading about its environs. But after being given a copy of The Emperor Far Away, I'm now changing my mind. It wasn't merely that the author, David Eimer, travels to such distant and unknown, to me, regions but the way in which he describes such exotic and mysterious places as Xinjiang and Tibet and the many local people he meets on his journeys. Having never even heard of many of the areas he travels to until I read the book, Eimer's visceral you-are-there description and the highs and the lows of his expedition are enough of an impetus to send this reader looking for flights to China.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The China You Don't Hear About, October 4, 2014
This review is from: The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China (Hardcover)
The only negative thing I have to say about the book is that it's only 308 pages long, I enjoyed every page and hated for it to come to an end. I love to read about other people and places, and I've read quite a few books about China over the last few years, and this one is very, very good. The premise of the book is a bit unusual, which is part of its appeal. The author visits various places on the borders of China and beyond and the main thrust of the book is about the minority groups that live there. He visits a far western province, Tibet, Nepal, and the far northeastern provinces, among other places. One of the main takeaways for me was just how restless some of these groups are, and how Beijing is handling, or as more often the case, mishandling their response. This is an eye-opening look at a serious situation that is generally glossed over in the western media, or not reported on at all. The author speaks with an authentic voice, having lived and worked in China for a number of years and speaks Mandarin, so this is not some fly-by-night hit and run by someone who doesn't know better and takes things at the officially mandated face value. There are numerous interesting characters throughout the book, it was a lot of fun, and very instructive, to hear about what they did for a living and how they lived their lives, and sometimes, their hopes and dreams for the future. This is a book that can be enjoyed on several different levels, it's plain fun to read, it's interesting and informative, and it also gives you a lot to think about. If you have any interest at all about China, this is a great book. Hats off to the author, I hope to see more from him.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Still Worth the Effort, December 10, 2014
By 
Ron Webb (Beijing, China) - See all my reviews
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This book is essentially a personal travelogue chocked full of strong opinions. Eimer spends the first third of the book complaining about how the Uyghurs are being treated, punctuated by his own personal adventures in Xinjiang. Then he does the same for Tibet, Yunnan and Dongbei. Everywhere he goes he finds crimes against the local people perpetrated by the central government. Much of what he observes comes from his frequent visits to local bars drinking "watery beer." If you are looking for an indictment of Han China (past and present), this book will serve you well. But the steady drumbeat of negative comments and innuendo against the Han Chinese and the Chinese central government might seem wearing and tedious after the first few chapters. It becomes a tax on the reader who still finds Eimer's insight and journalist prowess worth the effort. Somewhat disturbing is his empathy with the minorities who wield knives and axes in crowded train stations, and his seeming disdain for minorities who have decided to join the civilization-state.
But overall it is still a good book written by a talented traveler adventurer and journalist.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fact gatherers and may I say also in the great tradition of British explorers, September 19, 2014
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This review is from: The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China (Hardcover)
I just finished reading this book. Having lived in China in the 70's, I could relate to what David Eimer was describing. We are also about to embark on a 5 week adventure, that will take us to Kashgar and other minority areas.
Mr. Eimer writes in the rich tradition of real journalists who travel as observers, fact gatherers and may I say also in the great tradition of British explorers.
China has suddenly become infinitely more familiar, and its geography quite clear!

This book is a delight of history, dangerous expeditions that require quite a bit of daring, fact finding., a keen sense of observation mixed with a true understanding and love of the complexity of China.
Read this book: you'll come away infinitely better informed
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book overall, October 7, 2014
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Good book overall. Authored captured the tourist vantage of NW/SWChina and SE Asia. Although the unending assault on the Han got a little tiring, even though I happen to agree with some of the assessment. As an alternative, Rob Gifford's China Road was a more insightful read to the region.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Author's Ego and Judgmentalism Are Bad Companions in a Travel Book, December 23, 2014
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Amazon Customer (Cranston, RI United States) - See all my reviews
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Really more like 2.5 stars. Although there are some "choice bits" in this book, they are severely offset by the author's narcissism (how many times he has been in these places before, how much better it had seemed then, etc.), cultural biases and general Sinophobia. Obviously, China is either "the enemy" of all these bordering states (or included territories), or is generally feared. However, although China has a preoccupation with maintaining its "unity," all nation-states have similar concerns. Just examine Britain's handwringing over losing "jewels from its crown" (and those were not border countries or territories). The truth is that although it is far easier to bite the hand of the perceived aggressor, the peoples in such lands do get some real benefits from China, in return. As a result, it is always more complicated than meets the eye of the traveler. The same goes to a desire for autonomy together with some sort of simplicity--most anthropologists and ethnographers will note that this too is unrealistic. Bragging about his ability to cope with high elevations, and playing pool and sipping drinks with malcontents do not really shed much light on this often unseen world--the question is whether there are solutions?
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5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read-not everything in China is Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou, December 20, 2014
By 
Vic (Northern CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China (Hardcover)
After I traveled on business to Shanghai and Beijing I discovered that I knew virtually nothing about China, and I have tried to do something about that. Of all of the books I have read about China, this one is the more unusual. David Eimer searches the ends of China on the west, south and north east and delivers interesting and personal stories about the denizens he encounters, most of whom he admires. He is not so pleased with the central government, Chinese Communist Party, various military enforcers or the government of North Korea. He also ventures off into Burma with a cloistered stay in the most dangerous area.

For me the book made a fabulous read. I wouldn’t want to travel rough like the author or stay in the places he did. But as someone who speaks Mandarin, he was able to travel where I can’t.
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The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China
The Emperor Far Away: Travels at the Edge of China by David Eimer (Hardcover - July 15, 2014)
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