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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I liked the story well enough, but could have been happier it the descriptions were not so detailed. Read morePublished 3 months ago by elizabeth hoffman
Most likely very interesting to a history buff (of which I am not) but interesting non the less. Thought provoking book.Published 11 months ago by William C. Koehne
A well written and intelligent look back at the history of the famous silk road through the ages. The author did a superb job of capturing the facts and culture,and geography. Read morePublished 12 months ago by applesauce
Books like this made me fall in love with history. Joyce Morgan has a wonderful way of weaving history into a narrative of a somewhat quirky man traipsing about one of the most... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Allison McWilliams
Well written and mostly a great read. .
The first two thirds or three quarters are fascinating, gripping at times. Read more
This account of the diamond sutra was like reading an Indiana Jones movie. They took a subject that could be dry as a desert and made it come alive. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Alder
Awakens the best inner spirit of the traveller. Loved the book. Well written. Connects the reader to not only the silk route but to Buddhism, China, India and the deep relationship... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Ramesh Adiga
Enjoyable and informative, but a little repetitive and long-winded.Published 17 months ago by Steffani McChesney
You can tell from the first page this is going to be an enjoyable read. The writing is engaging and fast-flowing, a striking contrast with the typically dry academic writing of... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Peter Stuckings