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Land of Yesterday, Land of Tomorrow Hardcover – May 13, 1992
From School Library Journal
Grade 4-7-- Photographer Paul Conklin and his two sons journeyed through China's Xinjiang province and later asked Ashabranner to write the narrative. Through interviews with the Conklins and careful research, he has produced a vital and highly informative travel book that cogently combines Xinjiang's historical significance (especially its role in Silk Road politics) with issues of today. Especially interesting is the description of the underground irrigation system. Nationalist discontent in this predominantly non-Chinese area is also well treated as are the varied Chinese responses. The photographs are fascinating, capturing the excitement of buz kashi , a sort of rough-and-ready polo match; the markets and bazaars; and everyday life. All of them are sharp and well composed; most are in black and white. The dozen or so in full color are so enthralling that one wishes for more. This is an absorbing travelogue with enough substance for reports. --John Philbrook, San Francisco Public Library
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
North of Tibet, bordering on Pakistan and Afghanistan, lies Xinjiang: a vast 20% of China's area, comprised of the terrible Taklamakan Desert (home to untapped petroleum and China's nuclear tests) ringed with oases fed by mountain snows. Through two valleys north and south of the desert ran the most difficult portion of the medieval Silk Road from Xian in central China to Damascus; today, irrigation tunnels from the surrounding mountains--some in use for 500 years--supplement local water to grow prized fruits and vegetables, supporting 1% of China's total population--mostly the predominant Uighurs; nomadic Kazakhs, who crossed the long border with the USSR in the 30's; and more recently arrived Han Chinese settlers from the east. The Conklins (Paul took his sons on this Smithsonian- sponsored expedition as a college graduation gift) traveled by train from Xian through Xinjiang, photographing the forbidding desert, the friendly people, and the colorful oasis culture. Ashabranner (who did not go along) sets the journey in historical and cultural context, enlivening his account with direct quotes and the Conklins' personal experiences. Though it lacks the immediacy of a firsthand account, his narrative is informative and intelligent. The photos, on almost every spread, are excellent; like the text, they leave the reader thirsting to know more about this fascinating, little-known area. Bibliography; index. (Nonfiction. 10+) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.