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The Horse that Leaps Through Clouds: A Tale of Espionage, the Silk Road, and the Rise of Modern China Hardcover – April 26, 2011
The Amazon Book Review
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"Tamm utilizes [Baron Gustaf] Mannerheim's extensive journals to effectively recreate sights and sounds across a vast landscape in an effort to better understand China's future by examining its past." Publisher's Weekly
"[P]art-travelogue and part-biography with rigorous social historical analysis, [The Horse That Leaps Through Clouds] demands perseverance, and rewards it . . . Tamm offers as lucid an insight into China’s malaise as any foreigner could be expected to provide." PopMatters.com
"A complicated, ambitious travel adventure through modern Inner Asia . . . a truly inspired journey." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
This book was inspired by one of Mannerheim's exploits on behalf of Nicholas II - a two-year espionage mission into Central Asia and China. From 1906 to 1908, Mannerheim, nominally traveling as a Finn collecting archaeological and ethnographic materials for a museum in Helsinki, traversed the remote autonomous areas of Central Asia and on into China, gathering economic, political, and military information for the Tsar. Along the way, in Kashgar, he was given a Chinese passport with a Chinese name - Ma Dahan, which Mannerheim, with both romantic and literary license, translated as "the horse that leaps through clouds".
Author Eric Enno Tamm determined to retrace Mannerheim's journey one century later. THE HORSE THAT LEAPS THROUGH CLOUDS is Tamm's account of both his trek and Mannerheim's. Tamm interweaves the two accounts deftly. Nonetheless, it is Tamm's travels in the latter half of 2006 that constitute the principal reason to read this book.Read more ›
It will have special appeal to those of us who have Finnish ancestry because it is about the notable Finn Baron Gustaf Mannerheim, and his espionage expedition (as a Russian spy) from St. Petersburg all the way to Beijing, China, in 1906-08. The title is taken from Mannerheim's Chinese name, Ma Dahan, meaning "the horse that leaps through clouds."
In 2006, Tamm retraces Mannerheim's epic journey across the Silk Road from St. Petersburg to Beijing, and as Tamm has written, "[I] discovered both seismic differences and eerie similarities between the China of today and the country Mannerheim visited a century ago."
Yet, the book is far from being nostalgia for Finns. This is an adventure tale that has the feel of a novel that any reader can enjoy. But even more so, because Tamm is a very knowledgeable historian and critical observer, it is a book that ultimately reminds us of both the immense political and environmental changes that have taken place on this planet in the last 100 years, and at the same time reminds us of all the corrupt political power-tripping that has remained unchanged in that period of time.
Here's a case in point: Tamm, while preparing for his journey following Mannerheim's footsteps across Asia, visited with Craig Murray who was formerly a British ambassador to Uzbekistan. They discussed Murray's involvement in discovering torture practices benefitting both the US and Britain, and they talked about the idea that American involvement in Central Asia was "only about fighting militant Islam."
"The fundamental motives are more basic than that," Murray told me. "It's about oil and gas contracts." That, according to Murray, is the prize in the New Great Game.Read more ›
For two years Mannerheim trekked through the southern borderlands of the Russian empire seeking to ascertain the military strength and the political intentions of the Chinese empire. Ostensibly a spying mission under the guise of an anthropological expedition, as with all things concerning Mannerheim, it wasn't as straight forward as it first seemed. Eric Enno Tamm's book retraces Mannerheim's route 100 years later. Tamm uses Mannerheim as his guide and as a framework around which he builds a fascinating travelogue. Tamms erudite and relaxed writing style makes this a relaxing, but at the same time informative read. He wonderfully combines the observations made 100 years ago with the current situation and you are left wondering if anything really changes politically or is history destined to continue repeating itself. The only difference between then and now seems to be that man has managed to pollute horribly what was pure 100 years ago.
I bought this book as a Kindle edition and at the start of each chapter their is a resource link, linked to Tamm's website which has copious information, maps and photographs related to each particular chapter. Unfortunately using this link on my Kindle was frustratingly slow and the maps were hard to discern in black and white, but I think it is a marvelous innovation on Tamm's part to have this in his book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Only 3/4 way through so far. Was expecting more comparison & quoting of Mannerheim's original treck. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Janene E Manerheim
fantastic account of forgone years, actualised by this writer who has done the spy-trip again in modern times. Read morePublished on February 1, 2014 by A. Brehm
An intriguing travelogue with a good measure of local history and early 20th European politics thrown in. Read morePublished on September 3, 2013 by The Lorax
The author came to China with too many biases and stereotypes already filled his mind, he hardly learned anything new on the long trip in China. What a waste! Read morePublished on September 2, 2011 by Wandering Bear