Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

  • List Price: $16.95
  • Save: $3.79 (22%)
FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Riding the Iron Rooster: ... has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
Condition: Used: Good
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 3 images

Riding the Iron Rooster: By Train Through China Paperback – December 8, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 105 customer reviews

See all 7 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$25.33
Paperback
"Please retry"
$13.16
$6.91 $1.10
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"
$49.95

The Numberlys Best Books of the Year So Far
$13.16 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • Riding the Iron Rooster: By Train Through China
  • +
  • The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas
  • +
  • The Great Railway Bazaar
Total price: $38.58
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

Review

"[Theroux's] books have enriched the travel literature of this century...China, with its guard down, its buttons undone, and its fingers greasy, looks even more magical with a little of its mystery revealed." USA Today

"[A] very funny, beautifully written, wonderfully observant, and deeply insightful description of the vagaries of life and politics in China." -- Conde Nast Traveler

"Fascinating...the portrait that emerges is a luminous, almost uncanny, and situationally accurate one. Theroux is particularly good at catching the surreal quality of China." The Miami Herald

"Theroux's genius is in his clear-eyed rendition of a fresh world and the deeper observations he attaches to it." The Chicago Tribune

About the Author

PAUL THEROUX is the author of many highly acclaimed books. His novels include The Lower River and The Mosquito Coast, and his renowned travel books include Ghost Train to the Eastern Star and Dark Star Safari. He lives in Hawaii and Cape Cod.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (December 8, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618658971
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618658978
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #417,785 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a well-written literay account of Theroux's travels through the difficult land of modern China. I first read this while living in (British) Hong Kong and making trips to and through the mainland. I have never laughed so much at the crazy predicaments Theroux gets himself into or observes (many the same as I was experiencing), and was struck not only at the quality of his writing but how rare a writer he is for covering this difficult and insecure part of the world.
What shines through in the pages of this book is that Theroux the writer is beholden to no one; he delivers accuracy of description everytime, and while this is the essence of a good travel writer, it is not a trait relished by governments out east like China's, where in fact the culture demands "saving face" over telling the blunt truth (see Bo Yang's book The Ugly Chinaman for an in-depth account of this fascinating aspect of Chinese culture). Even some westerners who live out East (and might like us to think of the Third World as some kind of paradise posting) can get upset at this kind of sober truth-telling about "their" China. For the detached reader, Theroux's book is an honest, funny, non-spin-doctored account.
If you like this book, try Theroux's Kowloon Tong, his Hong Kong novel banned in China, a very accurate depiction of that small city and the people (both westerners and easterners) who lived in it at the time of the Handover (I read it while living there). Timothy Mo's The Monkey King is another classic China novel about an eccentric Chinese family - a witty, poignant tale, and a book so on the mark that, if anything, it was even more attacked by certain frumps out East than Kowloon Tong!
Comment 20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I actually read this book nearly twenty years ago and have never forgotten it. I was so pleased to find it available at Amazon.com. One of the things that especially stuck with me was the eating habits of the Chinese at that time---fascinating! Never forgotten was the pail of eels in the "bathroom" ready for the evening meal.
This reading I was able to take more time with the book and get more out of it because I wasn't working and raising three children. I even looked up Paul Theroux on Encarta to get a feel for his personality.
This is a fabulous armchair travel of China, a detailed description of the beautiful, the ugly and the strange parts of that vast country. I highly recommend it!
Comment 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Paul Theroux has always had an extremely sharp eye for detail, and an even sharper pen with which to mold these observations into telling, sometimes ascerbic commentary. In "Riding The Iron Rooster", Theroux is at the top of his form in capturing the flavor and collective psyche of mainland China during the last quarter of the 20th Century.
One of the more revealing angles put forth in "Iron Rooster" is the face-saving that the Chinese government has engaged in with respect to The Cultural Revolution. Everyone knows that what Mao Tse Tung did was monstrous, but few in China appear willing to own up to the magnitude of the sin in any public way; so half-measures are taken to pay "proper respect" to Mao at just the appropriate place and just the appropriate time.
The author also nicely captures the first wave of pro-capitalist fervor that began engulfing China in the late 80's. But the core of Theroux's book, as always, are the vivid snapshots of the customs, foibles and mores that constitute a culture.
Reading "Iron Rooster" as I boarded a plane in Hong Kong in 1994, I discovered I was about to experience, first-hand, the aeronautical and social turbulence that the author ascribed to Chinese plane travel. By the time I landed in Guangxi Province, all of his observations had been confirmed.
"Riding The Iron Rooster" is vintage Theroux - insightful, droll, always pleasurable.
Comment 22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While a little slow in getting up a head of steam, "Riding the Iron Rooster" makes for a captivating read. The wonderful places that Mr. Theroux visits and the diverse characters of the people he encounters and details in the pages of this twelve-month odyssey places the reader in a virtual world - right upon the train with him. China has certainly changed immensely since the mid 1980s when this account was authored, but Theroux's writings lends great insight into the national psyche that prevailed during the decade following Mao's death and the end of the Cultural Revolution. With especially the latter, Theroux seems obsessed - be it Shaoshan where Mao was born, mighty Shanghai or isolated Tibet, he relates the present-day to events from the mid-1960s, usually via the often ghoulish memories of local citizens. He offers criticisms and praises where he feels they are due. For me though the highlight comes through rich descriptions of the places to where he travels. Theroux visits dozens of localities which will remain but mere place-names on a map for the vast majority of his readers. However, through his writings one is privileged to share such sights as the isolated grandeur of the Xinjiang desert as he coasts along by steam-drawn train. The rugged mountain scenery of Sichuan is also memorable but with the unforgettable account of his journey across the Tibetan Plateau in a dilapidated old taxi (with an even worse for wear driver), he saves his best for last.
In an instant I would recommend this book to any traveler contemplating a trip to China. Mr. Theroux touches upon almost every place of interest in this fascinating land and lends a unique perspective into the Chinese persona. While an obvious allowance is needed for the political, social and economic changes that have occurred over the past 15 years, "Riding the Iron Rooster" remains a useful if not valuable travel companion.
Comment 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Riding the Iron Rooster: By Train Through China
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Riding the Iron Rooster: By Train Through China