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Chinese Turkestan: A Photographic Journey Through an Ancient Civilization Hardcover – September 5, 2014

4.1 out of 5 stars 93 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Sparsely populated and spanning more than 1.6 million square kilometers of desert, river basins, mountains, and grasslands, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has had a turbulent history. Many of the events that have occurred there during the last 2500 years have been inextricably associated with its geographical position in northwest China, at a crossroads linking Europe and Asia. Traversed by branches of the series of trade routes that formed the ancient Silk Road, the region has been fought over and controlled by a succession of warlords and empires. Join Ryan as he spends nearly a decade exploring ancient footsteps in shifting sands in China's remote northwest.

From the Back Cover

I owe a debt of gratitude to the people who helped me transform a concept into a reality in the making of this book.
 
Most of all, I would like to thank the people of Xinjiang, of all ethnicities and religions, for making every one of my visits to the region a joyous journey and a photographic pleasure. The hospitality for which they have been renowned since the early days of the Silk Road era remains the same to this day.
 
I would also like to say a special thank you to Abdul, Jasmine Bian, Giorgio Baravalle, Jane Smith, Chad Ingraham, Jesper Sorensen, Bob Carnie, and Kevin Viner.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Ryan Pyle Productions (September 5, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0992864402
  • ISBN-13: 978-0992864408
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #970,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By PositiveLogic TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 16, 2015
Format: Hardcover
Being a photographer, I couldn't resist the urge to check this out. There are a lot of pictures and stories behind these pictures that you don't ordinarily see in a book on China. That's because it covers a region of China that is not often depicted in popular photography. Along the legendary Silk Road, are people that do not have the look that we associate with traditional Chinese people. That's because it's a melting pot... In someplace similar to the melting pot in the United States in that people are attracted to that area that bridge Europe and Asia for the sake of the economic opportunities afforded.

It's an interesting look at the modern and the old all mixed together. And you kind of wonder how is it that most of the world has very little awareness of this part of China and the unique people that live there.

The pictures take a look at every day life. It's a huge contrast with the modern and very technologically savvy parts of China which are not only heavily industrialized but also wealthy parts of China where in factories make a huge proportion of the items that are being sold today on Amazon, ironically enough. No this book is about entirely different, almost strange part of China.

Having been involved in book publishing myself I'll make a comment about the layout. The way it was done is far from ideal. Ideally for a book with this many photos, you'll have a lot of white space in order to avoid splitting photos between two pages or putting them too far into the spine. Of course that would greatly increase the number of pages and thus the cost of publishing. But there is a trade-off and perhaps there was a better middle ground that could have been chosen between economy and giving the reader the best possible experience.

This item was provided in exchange for a unbiased review.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was so interesting to me the first time, that I've actually read through it a few times.

Let me get my layman's complaints out of the way first. I really wish that the font was one size larger for the obvious reason. It's not so out of line that it's a big problem for me, it's just that I would wish for it to be one step easier to read and red print on white is part of it also.

The other one is something that I know that I simply have to live with, but I don't have to like it, right? Too many of these fascinating photos are spread across two pages and then ruined by the binding. I know "What are you going to do?". My answer is to make the book twice the dimensions! It may not be practical, but it would make me happy. The second edition or the next one will have to do, I'll make the guess that you would have, if you could have.

These two things were nothing more than wishes for me, but they could be more to others. I guess that other reviewers can help buyers to decide with their ratings and comments about these issues. Personally, I don't expect all my wishes to come true, but both things would improve the book for me. On flip side, it seems to be a quality hardcover edition with a jacket that when removed, opens into a large picture on the inside.

I mostly take nature photographs and I'm always interested in learning history. This book is so inspiring that I'm incredibly jealous and wish that I could rewind thirty years of my life and do this type of work right alongside the author/photographer.

You'll see the present documented with commentary about the past of this geographical area that most of us know so little about.
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Format: Hardcover
This book deals with a part of the world I know very little about. Other than some mainstream news stories (typically short on details) about unrest among the Uighur people in China, I have heard almost nothing about Chinese Turkestan. In this situation, the true test of a photographer's skill (in my mind) is what information his images convey in the absence of captions, text, or other contextual clues. So I looked at the photographs first, without reading the text. Then, after I'd formed an initial impression, I went back and read the introduction and the captions.

My first impression was that this is a region of contrasts. The very first image speaks of modernity -- a large, open plaza, with billboards and a high rise building, with a child on a bicycle. But other images are different. We visit farms still using some very traditional (and ancient) methods to plant and harvest crops. We see a bazaar and a sheep market that wouldn't have been out of place hundreds of years ago. We see blacksmiths and bricklayers. It never would have occurred to me that people were still making their livings as traditional blacksmiths in this day and age. Now I know they do. And everywhere, older buildings are being torn down to make way for massive apartment buildings. There's a sense of loss, here. An entire way of life is threatening to disappear. The photographer has explicitly stated he doesn't want to make value judgments; rather, he just wants to chronicle the lives of the people. I respect that. I think there is still a theme to the work, but the collection just lacks an agenda. And the impartiality works.

Many different areas of the lives of the people of this region are documented. We see their homes, their farms, their places of business.
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