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121. The River at the Center of the World : A Journey Up the Yangtze, and Back in Chinese Time
by Simon Winchester
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312423373
Catlog: Book (2004-04-01)
Publisher: Picador
Sales Rank: 11498
Average Customer Review: 4.07 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Rising in the mountains of the Tibetan border, the symbolic heart of China pierces 3,900 miles of rugged country before debouching into the oily swells of the East China Sea. Connecting China's heartland cities with the volatile coastal giant, Shanghai, it has also historically connected China to the outside world through its nearly one thousand miles of navigable waters. To travel those waters is to travel back in history, to sense the soul of China, and Simon Winchester takes us along with him as he encounters the essence of China--its history and politics, its geography and climate as well as engage in its culture, and its people in remote and almost inaccessible places. This is travel writing at its best: lively, informative, and thoroughly enchanting.
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Reviews (29)

4-0 out of 5 stars Read backwards, as in China
As a compliant reader, this book opens in Shanghai where their travels start. I found this boring and a rehash of other travel books and the usual lurid history. After reading less than half of this chapter, I flipped to the last chapter about the Yangtze headwaters in the primitive Himalaya-like mountain ranges. The story is more exciting and less covered compared to most travelogs, although both Theroux and Jenkins have written similar stories. With Winchester, however, I learned much more about the geography and history as I continued reading backwards. There is enough repetition throughout the chapters that each can stand on its own.

Each chapter has a detailed submap so that the reader can follow along and not get lost. The front and back covers have a highlighted map of China so that one does loose sight of the big picture. The text and map includes a discussion of the Yellow River too, and for perspective comparisons to features in the US and UK. However, there are no tour pictures, other than his full-page mugshot on the back dustjacket, even though he brought a Leica [p32].

Winchester's book includes more than a typical travelog, he intersperses vignettes that include geography [his undergrad work is geology] and temporal history. These vignettes delve into their subject at more than cursory level in tour guides, so that the reader has a deeper understanding into the whys and wherefores. Such vignettes include Chairman Mao's swimming the river, the Three Gorges dam project, minority peoples, tea, Wuhan bridges, Precambrian Yangtze man, Chinese holocaust museum, Lu Shan, etc. Unfortunately, the vignettes are not listed as subtopics in the TOC so that it is hard to relocate them. I'd highly recommend that the author take a look at computer books for useful TOCs. There is a 9-page index and 5-page annotated suggested readings list. Quite a few pages have footnotes that help the reader recall/learn lesser-known facts, but I would have really wanted a numerical list of endnotes so that the reader could further research topics of interest. Many indented quotes and poem translations are unfootnoted. There is a pasted-in correction of the text [p260].

The author, an emancipated Brit, tries to write in an American frame of reference, but many Brit colloquialisms show through; such as lift [elevator p163], ship-breaking [-wrecking p43], railway wagons [cars p198], Perspex [Plexiglas p59], notice board [sign p140], etc.

His writing style is typical of a reporter, who exaggerates describing scenes with overly powerful and emotion-charged phrases. The reader needs to filter these excesses, as in:

"In places like these the water is not so much water as a horrifying white foam--a cauldron of tortured spray and air and broken rock that is filled with the wreckage of battered whirlpools and distorted rapids and with huge voids of green and black, the whole maelstrom roaring, shrieking, bellowing with a cannonade of unstoppable anger and terror [p 333]."

Water is a person and has anger and is afraid? Need I say more about his allegorical attempts?

Other writing issues include his freelance writer upbringings, measured by # of words, such as:

"They take this runoff from the high Himalayas and the other ranges and then, capturing river after river after river along the way--all of which do just the same, scouring their source mountains for every drop of water they can find--they cascade the entire collected rainfall from tens of thousands of square and high-altitude miles down the earth-stained waters of the East China Sea [p144-5]."

I kid you not but here is a 70-word sentence, part of a two-sentence paragraph. He'd flunk English 1B in any university class. Clearly this book had no editors as this is his typical writing style.

And this book is full of excessively erudite phrases, such as:

"Trading companies are crammed into dusty art deco palaces and crumbling godowns; there are real estate brokers and paging firms and couriers where once there were more classically Chinese functionaries, 'likin' officials, octroi collectors and compradors [p208]."

Hint, there is no glossary.

Curiously, from the world's outcry on the demographic moves, and cultural and environmental damage alleged due to the 3 Gorges dam, the geocentric author does not show a dotted outline that the resulting 360 mile long reservoir would cover although the author claims to have detailed DoD secret topographic maps [p xii].

Overall, however, this book is a compelling read. One just hope it is all true [p xiv]?? Since the 2008 Peking Olympics is in the works perhaps a 2nd edition is forthcoming? [page# refer to hard cover edition]

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book for anyone planning a Yangtze Cruise
I read this beautifully written book before my recent China trip and was enchanted by the story. It begins with a story of a visit by the author to a man with an ancient scroll with a drawing of the Yangtze River. He decided to write a book about his travels and, along with a Chinese woman as a guide, journeyed from the mouth of the river near Shanghai all the way to the source in the Tibetan plateau. What really fascinated me was the way the author wove the history and culture of the region into the current day narrative and interactions with people. For example, the author discusses the activities that led to the downfall of the Qing dynasty and the beginning of the republic--all of which occurred in Wuhan along the Yangtze. Skeletons found in caves along the river are among the oldest ever found, making this area one of the cradles of civilization.

Some of the descriptions in the book are now dated since the first flooding of the area began in June 2003, covering much of the former riverfront and part of the villages with water. However the history and culture explored in the book are still very relevant, so much so that I reread portions while on the cruise in October 2003.

Highly recommended.

4-0 out of 5 stars Simon Winchester has done the Yangtze proud
Simon Winchester is one hot literary property these days. In the past several years he has produced such splendid nonfiction books as THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN, THE MAP THAT CHANGED THE WORLD and, most recently, KRAKATOA. Now the Picador branch of Henry Holt has issued a paperback reprint of Winchester's riveting 1996 paean to the majesty, history and folklore of the Yangtze River, THE RIVER AT THE CENTER OF THE WORLD. It is still a superb read.

Winchester determined to travel the length of the 3,964-mile river (third longest in the world) from Shanghai, where it empties into the Yellow Sea, back to its source in the remote and forbidding mountain fastnesses of Tibet. Being a curious and observant fellow, Winchester stopped at cities large and small along the way to sample atmosphere, probe local history and meet interesting people. He darted off-course now and then, sometimes of necessity, at other times simply because there was something nearby that piqued his interest.

As traveling companion he enlisted a resourceful and intelligent Chinese woman whom he disguises (for fear of official retribution against her) under the name of Lily. She plays a hardheaded and outspoken Sancho Panza to his Don Quixote, and brings a revealing personal dimension of her own to Winchester's story.

In addition to being a fine writer, Winchester is a born reporter. Nothing seems to escape his notice. He has done his historical and literary homework thoroughly and is not shy about intruding his own strongly held opinions into his narrative. Most of those opinions oscillate between nostalgia for the rich pageant of China's past as reflected along the river and utter disdain verging on disgust for what has become of the country under its Communist rulers.

As in most good travel writing --- indeed, like the Yangtze itself --- the "tributary" digressions in this book are fully as interesting as its main course. We learn the exact process for making Chinese brown rice vinegar and the history of tea as a major Chinese product. We learn the stories of intrepid but largely unknown westerners with names like Cornell Plant and Joseph Rock, who were early explorers of the river. We are fed many fanciful legends from Chinese mythology and a number of facts --- often depressing but always interesting --- from Chinese history.

The famous Three Gorges dam project is examined in detail and the area itself described fully. Winchester considers the whole monster project a defilement of one of China's most beautiful areas, a venture meant more to glorify the government that planned it than to help the people who will be affected by it. Many of those people, he feels, will simply be made miserable.

Chinese national pride, in fact, is a major theme that runs through the book. From the dawn of its history, China has regarded foreigners with suspicion and mistrust. They are "foreign devils" and "barbarians," and as a matter of pride they have to pay more for just about everything than do the native Chinese.

Winchester sent me scurrying to my unabridged dictionary a score or more of times to look up unfamiliar terms that seem routine to him. A few of them --- nunataks, portolanos, ayurvedic --- were nowhere to be found, but I did learn something about haars, skerry, compradors, corvees and kentledge, among others. My only tiny complaint about this reprint is that the maps, so sorely needed as the upriver journey continues, are inadequate.

The only addition to the book's 1996 text is a four-page afterword in which Winchester speculates about the future of the great Chinese cities. Beijing will continue to be the country's capital, its Washington D.C., he says. Shanghai, sitting grandly at the mouth of the Yangtze, will be its New York City --- and poor Hong Kong down in the south of the country, will be merely its New Orleans.

Unless there is some sort of unimaginable government upheaval in China, this fine book is likely to remain a classic account for many years to come. For a "foreign devil," Simon Winchester has done the Yangtze proud.

--- Reviewed by Robert Finn

3-0 out of 5 stars Great Facts, Poor Story
I was disappointed too. It seemed to me that at the beginning the author makes it appear that his trip up the Yangtze was a very dangerous adventure. I guess the danger and the adventure are in the sequel. What is really scary is what will happen to the millions of people in the path of the "river sunami" should the dam not hold.

Also, I wonder what happened to his partner, Lily. If he let her help him knowing that she could face a lot of trouble later--I think he should have found another way of making the trip happen. It appears he used her to make a few bucks on a book.

On the back cover of the book is a review that states Winchester's life is "equal parts James Bond and Jan Morris." He's got to be kidding! 2.5 Stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars derived great pleasure
I derived great pleasure reading Mr. Winchester's book. His Idea of a good travel book he explans at the end is one that derives great pleasure on imagined journeys to exotic and far away ports.

This book was all of that and more, he is a wonderful writer, great read from the beginning to the end. ... Read more

122. Eastward to Tartary : Travels in the Balkans, the Middle East, and the Caucasus (Vintage Departures)
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375705767
Catlog: Book (2001-10)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 16348
Average Customer Review: 4.29 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Eastward to Tartary, Robert Kaplan's first book to focus on a single region since his bestselling Balkan Ghosts, introduces readers to an explosive and little-known part of the world destined to become a tinderbox of the future.

Kaplan takes us on a spellbinding journey into the heart of a volatile region, stretching from Hungary and Romania to the far shores of the oil-rich Caspian Sea. Through dramatic stories of unforgettable characters, Kaplan illuminates the tragic history of this unstable area that he describes as the new fault line between East and West. He ventures from Turkey, Syria, and Israel to the turbulent countries of the Caucasus, from the newly rich city of Baku to the deserts of Turkmenistan and the killing fields of Armenia. The result is must reading for anyone concerned about the state of our world in the decades to come.
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Reviews (35)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Master of Political and Historical Insights
I have read several of Kaplan's books and he continues his winning streak in this one. Unlike many travel writers who merely offer westernized descriptions of people and scenery in places that are already well known, Kaplan covers areas that most of us in the western world are unfamiliar with. Interesting places in this book include Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan. He also focuses on history and politics, and has remarkable insights into the possible futures of the regions he visits, and how the past influences the present and future to a much greater extent than in the West. Some key insights offered by Kaplan here include the notion that Europe is currently splitting into regions that are eerily similar to the Ottoman and Holy Roman empires of ancient times, with the collapse of communism and the weakening of NATO. Kaplan also predicts that the next Yugoslavia-style bloodbath, which will drag in the rest of the world, will occur in the Caucasus region (Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan). Tellingly, Chechnya is not too far away. Kaplan knows what he's talking about, as he predicted the Yugoslavia disaster back in the late 1980's. And throughout the book Kaplan proves that the collapse of communism and the rise of so-called democracy is only a good thing at a high level of international politics. But for millions and millions of regular people, life has become far more dangerous and miserable.

Since the portion of this book covering Romania and Bulgaria is meant as a sequel to Kaplan's earlier "Balkan Ghosts," and since some of the other areas covered are also featured in "The Ends of the Earth," this book is slightly weaker than those two masterpieces. Kaplan also occasionally stumbles into cultural arrogance when dealing with non-Western people and politics. However, these are slight weaknesses in a very strong book that offers highly enlightening insights into the history and peoples in areas that Americans should stop ignoring.

3-0 out of 5 stars The Sequel to "Balkan Ghosts"
Robert Kaplan picks up where he left off in this book of travels. Kaplan, whose "Balkan Ghosts" became the point of departure for those State Department and other US government officials requiring a quick education about the complexities and entrenchment of the Balkan mind in the days leading up to the NATO confrontations with Serbia (including Bill Clinton, who is rumored to have delayed action in Yugoslavia in part because of Kaplan's insights), travels to the Balkans, Turkey, the Middle East, and then on to the Trans-Caucuses (known as "Tartary" to the Elizabethans). Like Kaplan's other travel books, this is more than a traveler's book of anecdotes; this is a book of history and lost histories and life on big historical divides. Especially relevant is his section on Armenia, a nation with its own (lowercase) diaspora and rich history. More generally, this book provides a workable education on the state of the Trans-Caucuses region, which is among the least understood regions on the planet - no small matter since, with Russia's increased importance in the energy markets, this is a region that stands to gain hugely in relative world importance.

5-0 out of 5 stars Kaplan as the new Marco Polo
One of the sad shortcomings of American society is that it has produced generations of illiterates when it comes to an understanding of the complexity of the world. When given a choice between watching some "reality" show versus reading about significant world events that can affect our lives, millions will chose who gets voted off the island versus understanding why Sept 11, 2001 happened. Kaplan digs deep into the real world, but would never reach the recognition rate of a tart who became famous for her disappearing cigar trick and became a "star" on her own "reality" show.
What sets Kaplan apart from many of his fellow journalists is his hard work and sacrifice to get the story, enduring a lot of hardship to get to the real world as we never see it, and seldom read about. And his story is about the future of mankind instead of tabloid titillation which dominates the news, but is really the toilet paper of history.
As someone who has traveled in many of the countries where Kaplan has developed his stories, I find his insightful observations and conversations with the real folk to put into perspective the superficial observations I have made, or read about from journalists who get the story from the comfort of their hotel rooms without ever getting their fingernails dirty. Even worse, his fellow journalists show up with their story already written and go home as soon as it is "verified" by talking to some propagandist, functionary, or peasant who fits their purposes.
This is another very good book about the real world, including the vast disparity in the development of areas and peoples whose ancestors were the subjects of Marco Polo's travelogue.
Americans can be very naive about the world, which is not surprising given the pitifully politically correct versions of history taught in all levels of schools today, but Kaplan has been there and experienced the world, with all its warts, and does a great job of putting it all into perspective. Like Polo's second excursion to Cathay, he went north and met the descendents of the same people who live in a world far closer to Polo's than the one we know today, seven hundred years later.
While some of the events and people are changed from the book, it is a great book to understand the complexity of the forces dictating world events today in a very dangerous part of the world, the breeding grounds of the next phase of world conflict.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
I just finished reading this excellent book. Kaplan has a talent for writing tavelogues with the right mixture of history, culture, politics, and analysis. He has a natural writing style and an ability to encapsulate the major themes in each country that he visits. I've already placed an order for several other Kaplan books.

5-0 out of 5 stars 6 stars at least
This book is a detailed political, historical and social analysis of Central Europe, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and the countries of the Caucasus. Kaplan begins his journey in Budapest. After visiting with friends there, he boards the train to visit Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan. Later, he arrives again in Turkey to head east to travel through Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan. At each stop along the way, he discusses politics and history with political leaders, dissidents, friends, and ordinary people. He combines comments from these sources with skilled observations of how society is working from the ground up in each locale to create extremely well-thought out and informed analyses of the social and political situation in the countries that he visits.

By happenstance, I read this book immediately after reading Peter Theroux's Great Train Bazaar. What a contrast- - although their journey followed the same route for much of the way, Theroux told us little more about the countries he visited than the wines available within easy reach of the train station- -Kaplan sees so much more. Theroux sets off on his trip because he wants a trip to write about and he likes trains. Kaplan also takes his trip to get material to write about, but Kaplan first begins by writing a very clear list of questions that he plans to research during the trip. He wants to understand "the future borders of Europe, the underpinnings of the coming meltdown of Arab dictatorships, and the social and political effects of new Caspian Sea energy pipelines." He also wants to know "how people saw themselves. Were national or ethnic loyalties giving way to new forms of cosmopolitanism, through globalization? If so, what did that mean for the future of authoritarian regimes? If dictatorships gave way to more democratic rule, would that mean more stability or less- -more civility or less- -in the countries through which [he] would pass?" These are very heavy questions, and answers to them should be of interest to all global citizens, (especially policy makers, we would hope).

Kaplan's observations and quotations cut to the quick of global society and culture. Kaplan's phrases like "social anarchy", "kleptocracy," and "moral vacuum" are brilliant descriptions of so many parts of the new Eastern Europe-Western Asia. In Romania, he is told "When we buy computers, compact disks, and clothes, we borrow the material consequences of the West without grasping the fundamental values that created such technologies in the first place." In Turkey, a human rights activist tells him "Westernization here is interpreted as secularization, not as democratization." In Bulgaria, his observations lead him to comment "The illusion that human progress is inexorable arises from the accident of one's historical and geographical good fortune." In Syria, he notes "Arab society was a conundrum: Among themselves, and in the privacy of their own homes, honesty, civility, and cleanliness reigned, yet none of these attributes overflowed into public life and spaces." After exploring the ritzy facades and partially hidden poverty of post-war Lebanon, he notes "Lebanon suggest that the 'end of history' is not democracy or humanism but materialism. People wanted goods and the money with which to buy them more than they wanted the rule of law." Later, "Middle East politics are like those of the ancient world- -a Greek or Roman could understand them better than an American." (Could this be why we're having so much trouble in Iraq?) Near the end of his journey in Turkmenistan, he looks back "But what were my conclusions after almost four thousand miles of travel?... That power and self-interest would shape the immediate future, at least in this part of the world." On the bright side, he states that the greatest lesson that he learned in Israel was that "Self-interest at its healthiest implicitly recognizes the self-interest of others, and therein lies the possibility of compromise." But he goes on to warn "A rigid moral position admits few compromises."

This is a scary book, and many of its comments and conclusions are out of alignment with "political correct" ideology. But after traveling through parts of this region, and living on the margins of it for five years where I was in constant contact with people from this region, I find Kaplan's observations to be incredibly accurate. They are based on thorough research and observation, not wishful thinking or armchair travel. Is Kaplan a pessimist? No, he's just well traveled. ... Read more

123. China Bound: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the Prc
by Anne F. Thurston, Karen Turner-Gottschang, Linda A. Reed
list price: $27.95
our price: $27.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0309049326
Catlog: Book (1994-01-01)
Publisher: National Academies Press
Sales Rank: 601060
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A very knowledgable author
I actually have not read the book. However, from viewing the 1st part of Anne Thurston's series on C-SPAN, I found her to be very objective and knowledgable about China. She has traveled to many parts of the China and has got first hand experience with the real people in China. Although this book may be a little dated considering the rapid changes happening in China, I am sure you would benefit from having this book if you have never been to China before. ... Read more

124. LONELY PLANET ST. PETERSBURG (Lonely Planet City Guides)
by Tom Masters
list price: $21.99
our price: $14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1741041694
Catlog: Book (2005-04-11)
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
Sales Rank: 61778
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

World-class entertainment at the Mariinsky Theatre, sultry White Nights in midsummer, ice-skating on the Neva and the sublime architecture of the Church on the Spilled Blood - Russia's 'northern capital' amazes all who visit.This smart, streetwise and stylish guide uncovers the cultural riches, captivating history and carefree nightlife of this magnificent city.

• IMMERSE YOURSELF IN ART - compare Picasso and Poussin, Gainsborough and Gauguin with a whole chapter dedicated to the vast Hermitage Museum

• CATCH THE SCENE - dance on tables or watch world-class ballet; our St Petersburg expert reveals the complete range of entertainment options

• EXPLORE the city with tailor-made walking tours, full color, cross-referenced maps and metro plan

• TALK THE TALK with our detailed language chapter complete with Cyrillic script

• ESCAPE to opulent Tsarist palaces and charming historic towns with our comprehensive Excursions chapter ... Read more

Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Chock Full of Information
I just returned from St. Petersburg.The Lonley Planet guide was amazingly helpful.This little pocket sized book contains virtually everything one needs to navigate the city, find hotels, restaurants, visit the important and novel sites, and gain a perspective on the city's history.

There is also a section on language and phrases as well as easy to follow maps of the subway.If you go, I also recommend a companion purchase, Lonley Planet's map of St. Petersburg.It is laminated and fits easily into one's coat pocket.

4-0 out of 5 stars A good book, replaced by a newer edition.
This has been replaced by an updated edition. Search for 1864503254, or look under "Our Customers' Advice" above. It is still a great guide for your journey of Discovering Russia.

We always tell clients and other visitors to Russia that you should get the most current guidebook, as attractions, hotels, restaurants and transportation options do often change--AND THEN VERIFY THE INFORMATION!

Marc David Miller, Discovering Russia, New York

4-0 out of 5 stars Inevitably Out of Date, but Still Quite Good
When one goes to Europe with a European guidebook from Lonely Planet, one can expect perhaps 95% accuracy regarding the information within the book.The St. Petersberg guide is probably closer to 80%.That, however, is not the fault of the authors.Russian cities have been evolving rapidly since the break up of the USSR.Cool bars close.Hostels shut down or move.Museum schedules change.All of these things occur at a far faster rate than in Western or even Eastern Europe.

That being said, the guide was, overall, quite good.I particularly enjoyed the Walking Tours within and the map of the Winter Palace, which was invaluable.

5-0 out of 5 stars Agreeing with the other reviews
Amazing amazing book. This was my invaluable guidebook when it came to travelling St. Petersburg and the outlying districts for a week and a half (alone). I brought three books with me to St. Pand soon was bringing along only this one when I went out. It has exact details/directions for everything, and really provides all the nitty-gritty that other guidebooks lack. If you want to buy one book, buy this one. If you want to buy more than one, still buy this.

5-0 out of 5 stars Surviving Cyrillic
I visited the wonderful city of St Petersburg in 1996, and I treated Nick Selby's first edition of this book as my most valuable possession while I was there. As an independent traveller with no guide other than the Lonely Planet, I relied very heavily on this little gem of a book, and it never let me down.

From purchasing a train ticket in Finland (the book describes the process of purchasing your ticket in Helsinki in absolute detail), to finding somewhere to stay (the St Petersburg hostel), to navigating the streets (all signposted in Cyrillic), to following in the footsteps of great authors (like my personal favourite, Dostoevsky) this book was my friend and saviour.

As an English-only speaker I found St Petersburg to be an intimidating city (very few people speak English, and the Cyrillic script adds several degrees of difficulty to written communication), so I honestly don't think I could have attempted, let alone survived, independent travel in this fabulous city without this book. ... Read more

125. Fodor's Pocket Kyoto, 1st Edition : The All-in-One Guide to the Best of the City Packed with Places to Eat, Sleep,Shop, and Explore (Fodor's Pocket Kyoto)
by Fodors
list price: $9.95
our price: $8.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 067690873X
Catlog: Book (2002-06-04)
Publisher: Fodor's
Sales Rank: 204320
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Book Description

Fodor's Pocket Guides are designed for people who just want the highlights. They contain full, rich descriptions of major cities around the globe including the most worthy sights, the best restaurants and lodging, plus shopping, nightlife, and outdoors highlights--all in a handy, pocket-size package.

Fodor's Pocket Kyoto gives you: All the basics you need to help you decide what to see and do in the time you have; smart contacts and detailed practical information, including the scoop on public transportation, local holidays, what to pack, and more; the very best dining and lodging in every price range; great recommendations for shopping nightlife, outdoor activities, and essential side trips; and detailed maps with sights, restaurants, nightspots, and hotels clearly marked.

An excellent choice for people who want everything under one cover." - Washington Post
... Read more

126. City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi
by William Dalrymple, Olivia Fraser
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142001007
Catlog: Book (2003-04-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 14538
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Sparkling with irrepressible wit, City of Djinns peels back the layers of Delhi's centuries-old history, revealing an extraordinary array of characters along the way-from eunuchs to descendants of great Moguls. With refreshingly open-minded curiosity, William Dalrymple explores the seven "dead" cities of Delhi as well as the eighth city-today's Delhi. Underlying his quest is the legend of the djinns, fire-formed spirits that are said to assure the city's Phoenix-like regeneration no matter how many times it is destroyed. Entertaining, fascinating, and informative, City of Djinns is an irresistible blend of research and adventure. ... Read more

Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful panoramic view of the history of Delhi and India
William Dalrymple has a great writing style and a deep apetite for understanding the historical and cultural context. He neither takes the clinical distant approach to his subjects neither does he use a patronizing attitude to India. If you have been to Delhi, the book will be a great reading; if are planning to go there, it should be required reading. You will enjoy your trip so much more. Even if you don't go to Delhi, it is just a wonderful reading. Olivia has done a great job in her illustrations.

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
A really wonderful book about the city of Delhi. Dalrymple and his wife go to spend a year living in Delhi (how did they afford this?), and he uses this arrangement as a way of chronicling the present day status of the city and delving deep into its history. He's done a very nice job of moving back and forth between present and past, managing to keep all his meetings and interviews with various experts quite interesting. The only part which lost my interest was an extended look into Sufi mysticism, but I just skimmed it and moved along. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in India, and especially to anyone planning a trip to Delhi.

5-0 out of 5 stars Capital
"City of Djinns" is an excellent account of a year spent in Delhi. William Dalrymple writes in a lively, often funny but always informative manner. The best travel writing manages to blend impressions of a country or place with descriptions of its people, as well as giving the reader a wider historical or social context. Dalrymple, being an historian, is skilled at the latter, yet he also has a keen eye for architecture and the oddities of the locals: he describes a variety of Dehli residents from International Backside Taxis and its drivers, his landlady, pigeon enthusiasts, hijras, through to partridge fights and more.

I thought that Dalrymple is particularly good at placing the British influence on India in context. Like much of Delhi's past, the British presence (or at least the physical signs of it) seems to have been erased. For that which remains, such as Lutyens's buildings, Dalrymple puts their impact into a new perspective.

"City of Djinns" is an affectionate book about Delhi and India, yet not an uncritical one. A lot is packed into 340 pages, and it's well worth the read.

G Rodgers

4-0 out of 5 stars A brilliant and funny book
After Dalrymple's amazing first book "In Xanadu", "City of Djinns" is a very worthy follow-up. It deals not with a journey but with the author living in Delhi for and extended period of time. William and his wife Olivia live in an apartment in Delhi with a Sikh lady and her crazy husband. Together and separately, they explore the various strands of the city.

Like "In Xanadu", Dalrymple combines erudite historical investigation with a humorous account of life today. The historical aspect of the book is very complicated. Delhi has an ancient Hindu history, a Muslim Mughal one, a Punjabi/Urdu one, the Partition phase and its modern story. In this book, Dalrymple tries his hand at digging through a bit of them all. From the violence of the Gandhi assasination riots to the extravagances of the Mughal court, he leaves nothing unturned.

His warm and clever perspective shines light on a city where so many cultures and ways of life come side by side, from the modern secularised Sikhs (like Balvinder, their taxi driver) to the huge hermaphrodite community in the city. A highly informative and entertaining book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very interesting and lots of fun
This is definitely one of the best books I have read. Dalrymple has a fascinating way of writing. He does not just drab on about a place in a matter of the fact way as the usual travel books do. He speaks to the people and gets the different emotions of the place out of them. Inspite of being from India-Bombay, I was never lucky enough to explore Delhi for a longer period of time.

This book very interestingly goes backwards into the history of the city of Delhi. The Mughal part and the part on partition had me hooked on to the book. The writer visits Karachi, Shimla, Daulatabad and a number of othe places to get the essence of Delhi.

Unfortunately for those planning to go to Delhi, while the City of Djinns makes fascinating reading, most of today's Delhi is a big mess. All the people from Delhi I have met, only have bad words about it. The population, crime rate, congestion, pollution are all very high. The once beautiful city of high Dehli- Urdu culture and tehzeeb (manners), has now been overtaken by a host of nouveau riche Punjabi immigrants who have given the city financial prosperity but made it lose its essence..... its heart. ... Read more

127. Looking for the Lost: Journeys Through a Vanishing Japan (Kodansha Globe)
by Alan Booth
list price: $21.00
our price: $14.28
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1568361483
Catlog: Book (1996-05-01)
Publisher: Kodansha America
Sales Rank: 86280
Average Customer Review: 4.75 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Journey through Japan
I wish I could write as entertainingly as Alan Booth. This book will not disappoint you, especially if you like traveling and are fascinated with Japan. And if not, it's still a great read anyway.

The most brilliant thing about this book is that the author combines Japanese history into his narratives as he traces three historical figures and/or locations in Japan by foot. The way he makes the characteres he meets along the way of his journey come to life is outstanding. I really enjoy this book and wish that he had written others before he died. The only thing that bothered me somewhat and makes me feel unsympathetic towards him, however, is that he drank too much. But who am I to judge? This is a great book. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sadness Over the Horizon
Will some publisher PLEASE print a collection of Alan Booth's outstanding newspaper articles? These would be a wonderful complement to Looking for the Lost and Roads to Sata.

Looking for the Lost is an oddity. A book that I remember few details of, yet I remember with great vividness that I was moved by a intangible sadness that was always just over the next horizon of his journeys. Alan Booth was a writer of invincible good humor. Too much so to speak of his own impending death (though his newspaper writings about his trials with the Japanese medical system are classic). But the alert reader is constantly aware of an impending passing of life, seemingly inseparable from the passing of beauty in this country.

I was in Japan during the final years of Alan Booth's life here, pretty much in the same circles. It is my deep regret that I never took the trouble to make his acquaintance.

5-0 out of 5 stars an outsider's inside look at Japan
This is a facinating book. You get unusual and fresh perspectives on national/racial identity and the travel book. The story of how Alan Booth came to Japan, and his unique viewpoint as a foreigner who speaks the language, and knows as much or more about Japanese culture than many of the natives, is woven throughout his accounts of walking through different areas of the country. The way the people he meets view him, and the way he reacts and responds to them is often funny, and just as often instructive and meaningful. This a great book, and reveals much upon repeated readings. I only wish there more from him.

5-0 out of 5 stars An historical anthropology
I have read Alan Booth's other great travelogue 'The Roads to Sata', which is as compelling as the present book. I have lived in Japan for a little over two years now and have studied it's culture for more than eight, but I can't remember ever reading a book (besides the one mentioned above) that was so revealing for the experience of life in Japan through the eyes of a foreigner, that I even felt as though I was walking alongside Alan Booth as he describes his visits to almost completely forgotten places and his encounters with and thoughts on the people he meets during his long walks. It actually would have been a great opportunity for me, if I had been given the chance to walk (or I should rather say 'limp', because of the blistering, and so on, feet) with him, since the thorough preparations he undoubtedly has made before every 'excursion' through the remote areas in this book would have rendered such an occasion a magnificent learning experience, listening every now and then to his stories about the areas' history as well as local traditions. In the process meeting with any number of interesting and not so interesting people, making up the colorful background to the stories. This is a highly recommended book for anyone truly interested in Japan as it is not advertised in tourist brochures.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not just for folks who have lived there
I have never lived in Japan, but have visited, and found a certain "something" wonderful about that country and its people that I could never find adequate words to describe. Alan Booth communicates both the mystique and the down-to-earth attitude Westerner finds in Japan--I think it's that "something" that I've searched my own intellect, but failed, to describe. Reading Alan Booth's "Looking for the Lost" has helped me to connect with those subtle attractions that I found in Japan, and that kept me returning.

Since most reader-reviewers recommend this book to those who have lived in Japan, I'll add my voice and recommend it to those who have spent limited time there, or who are planning to travel in the outer-reaches of this gorgeous country. ... Read more

128. Fodor's Japan, 16th Edition : The Guide for All Budgets, Completely Updated, with Color Photos and Many Maps (Fodor's Japan)
by Fodors
list price: $23.00
our price: $15.64
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 067900890X
Catlog: Book (2002-04-02)
Publisher: Fodor's
Sales Rank: 16560
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

Book Description

No matter what your budget or whether it's your first trip or fifteenth, Fodor's Gold Guides get you where you want to go.In this completely up-to-date guide our experts who live in Japan give you the inside track, showing you all the things to see and do -- from must-see sights to off-the-beaten-path adventures, from shopping to outdoor fun.Fodor's Japan shows you hundreds of hotel and restaurant choices in all price ranges -- from budget-friendly B&Bs to luxury hotels, from casual eateries to the hottest new restaurants, complete with thorough reviews showing what makes each place special.The Smart Travel Tips A to Z section helps you take care of the nitty gritty with essential local contacts and great advice -- from how to take your mountain bike with you to what to do in an emergency. Your personal supply of Post-it? flags makes it easy to mark your favorite listings.Plus, web links, costs, and mix-and-match itineraries make planning a snap. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Very good, but there may be stronger contenders
Fodor's was the fourth guide that I bought for Japan. It did not disappoint, but competition is tough and others do a better job in some areas.

My biggest complaint would be a poor map of Tokyo subway (black and white, coding of lines difficult to follow even for someone who is not a complete newcomer), even poorer street map of Tokyo itself and no subway map for Kyoto. True, you can get free subway maps; and decent maps of Tokyo are available separately, but after investing money into a good guide you should not have to worry about this.

The guide sounds inspired and cheerful, sections about dining, culture and the language are better than adequate. It can be quite prescriptive at times, but it does not really stand in the way of enjoyment.

The guide does a good job countering small-minded myths about "expensive Japan". To all those whining about $10 cups of coffee and $100 melons I say this: if coffee and melons and other comforts are so crucial to you, maybe you should stay at home to make sure you have cheap supply of these commodities. One recalls certain Lonely Planet writers who dedicate half of their time spent in Scandinavia to a search for cheap booze; they get very disappointed when they cannot find any and then they go on for pages and pages about it. Well, Fodor's guide does not get its foot into the same trap: when in Japan, do not try to recreate home experiences and you'll be fine. Still, I think the guide worries too much about Italian and Mexican restaurants in Japan: I do not think there are many people so strange that they would go half-way around the world and then try to get something that is available back home for a fraction of a price. Anyway, looking for an italian place in Japan is a bit like shopping for a computer in Ghana - yes, it is available, but why would you do it?

The guide is strong on directions to the attractions and descriptions are brief but accurate. I liked Hokkaido section which not all guides cover adequately (DK Eyewitness, for example, only managed to cough up a few pages - definitely not sufficient for the exciting land that is the north of Japan).

It is disappointing that Fodor decided not to cover Okinawa at all: many of travellers to Japan would want to go there. I understand this was done because they needed more space for Tokyo and Kyoto.

It is evident that the writers do not have the same fascination with Tokyo as they have with Kyoto. It is not a shortcoming because no-one really loves both the same way, yet you may find that Rough Guide does a more spirited coverage of the main city.

Overall, DK Eyewitness has much better maps (not so strong on anything else, unfortunately), Lonely Planet has solid descriptions and practical info of some more remote places and also covers kanji versions of placenames in a very convenient way, but overall Rough Guide Japan is still the strongest book for the destination (and I am not a natural fan of Rough Guide, but in Japan they really surpassed themselves and all others).

Fodor's Japan is good but not ideal unless you like their writing style and their indexing system (admittedly quite good, and goes some way towards compensating for less-than-adequate mapping) so much that you are prepared to ignore the shortcomings.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gaijin friendly
I used this book on a one week visit to Japan with my 15-year old daughter. While I had been to Japan many times on business, I had always been accompanied by Japan-based associates who delivered me from one destination to another, and refused to let me get lost. I had also not had the opportunity to do any genuine sightseeing. Using this book as our only guide we were able to: 1) Walk from our hotel in Akasaka to the Imperial Palace, seeing the Diet and a couple of shrines on the way; 2) Take the subway and trains to Kamakura for a tour of the temples; 3) Take the subway to Ryogoku to check out the Sumo stables; 4) Buy tickets and ride the shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto for a tour of the temples, and return; 5) Take an ikebana (flower arranging) lesson at the Sogetsu Kaikan; And 6) shop in the Ginza and other areas. In all cases, the directions and advice were on target. I highly recommend this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best guide books on Japan
I brought an earlier edition of "Fodor's Japan" in the mid 90ies, before my first trip to Japan. Since than, I have been back in Japan several times and read several other travel guides, including the Lonely planet guides.
I found Fodor's really outstanding. The walking tours by district are really helpful when you don't prepare for hours in advance. If you do them, you have really covered 80-90% of the important sites. This is especially helpful for day trips to Hakone, Nikko or Nara. Longer tours include good restaurant and take out tips and the descriptions are short enough to read up on while walking while still offering interesting details. I think the sections on Kyoto and Tokyo are even better than the once in guide books focused only on these cities. The book features a good range of hotels as well, organized by area and prize, but I found the dinning part really outstanding. For example, the Kanda's hidden soba shops, the collection of stylish bars or world class tempura restaurants I found in no other guide. So, I would really recommend the guide book. ... Read more

129. Fodor's Thailand, 8th Edition : The Guide for All Budgets, Where to Stay, Eat, and Explore On and Off the BeatenPath (Fodor's Thailand)
by Fodors
list price: $17.95
our price: $12.21
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400011434
Catlog: Book (2003-06-03)
Publisher: Fodor's
Sales Rank: 29463
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Book Description

No matter what your budget or whether it's your first trip or fifteenth, Fodor's Gold Guides get you where you want to go.In this completely up-to-date guide our experts who live in Thailand give you the inside track, showing you all the things to see and do — from must-see sights to off-the-beaten-path adventures, from shopping to outdoor fun.Fodor's Thailand shows you hundreds of hotel and restaurant choices in all price ranges — from budget-friendly B&Bs to luxury hotels, from casual eateries to the hottest new restaurants, complete with thorough reviews showing what makes each place special.The Smart Travel Tips A to Z section helps you take care of the nitty gritty with essential local contacts and great advice — from how to take your mountain bike with you to what to do in an emergency. Plus, web links and mix-and-match itineraries make planning a snap. ... Read more

130. Himalaya
by Anne de Sales, Eric Valli
list price: $50.00
our price: $31.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0810956128
Catlog: Book (2004-11-01)
Publisher: Harry N Abrams
Sales Rank: 25027
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Book Description

For 20 years, world-renowned photographer Éric Valli traveled through the Himalaya's treacherous terrain with his camera, tirelessly exploring the breathtaking landscape of dramatic peaks and valleys. He became captivated by the region's quiet and dignified inhabitants, learning their languages and forming personal bonds with them.

This stunning collection of Valli's most beautiful photographs from his time in the Himalaya presents the region's spectacular scenery: steep and narrow pathways, lonely high valleys, dramatic passes at 16,000 feet above sea level, and remote villages seemingly untouched by modernity. But the heart of the book is Valli's images of the Himalayan people, who have remained largely hidden from outsiders in their mountainous land. These intimate photographs capture their daily lives: men plowing through the snow with a caravan of yaks and women preparing meals over open fires, as they have done for centuries. Valli also records the predicaments they face in opening their culture to the modern world. Accompanied by an insightful text by cultural anthropologist Anne de Sales, Valli's images document an awe-inspiring human adventure halfway around the world. AUTHOR BIO: Éric Valli lived for many years in the Himalaya and is one of the region's best-known photographers. He is a regular contributor to Géo and National Geographic and the author of numerous books, including Abrams' Himalaya, about the making of his first feature-length film. He now lives in Paris. Anne de Sales is a cultural anthropologist for the CNRS, the national organization for scientific research, in Paris. She spent a decade in Nepal and has written several books on shamanism.
... Read more

131. Travel and Tourism - Vietnam
list price: $315.00
our price: $315.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: B0002TMEIA
Catlog: Book
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Book Description

In 1988, the World Tourism Organization (WTO) regarded tourism in Vietnam as being 20 years behind other Southeast Asian destinations. Tourism-supporting infrastructure was limited and basic at best. Visitors to Vietnam, who were primarily on socio-economic exchanges or overseas Vietnamese visiting family, were not typical leisure tourists and few traditional tourism activities were offered. Against this backdrop, the World Trade Organization projected that Vietnam could only receive 1 million international visitors per year by 2000. In fact, this assertion proved to be quite incorrect; Vietnam first welcomed over 1 million visitors as early as 1994 and received over 2 million visitors in 2000. ... Read more

132. Behind the Burqa: Our Life in Afghanistan and How We Escaped to Freedom
by Sulima and Hala, Batya Swift Yasgur
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0471263893
Catlog: Book (2002-09-30)
Publisher: Wiley
Sales Rank: 193379
Average Customer Review: 4.88 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Advance Praise for Behind the Burqa

"Whenever and wherever adults make war, children die and women are subjected to fear and humiliation. This is true of Afghanistan too. Read this harrowing book. The tragic yet heroic tale of two women is told with great simplicity. They will haunt you."
–Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

"The stories of Sulima and Hala achingly articulate the twin and enduring legacies of misogyny and violence. A critical historical document, Behind the Burqa ultimately reveals the unbreakable strength of Afghan women."
–Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues
Founder and Artistic Director, V-Day

"Behind the Burqa provides important information about conditions in Afghanistan, as well as the plight of asylum-seekers in the United States.I highly recommend this book to all people who are concerned about human rights, both at home and abroad."
–Senator Sam Brownback, (R. Kansas)
ranking member, Immigration Subcommittee, Committee on the Judiciary

"This book is a gripping reading experience, and it also offers important suggestions for those who would like to participate in making our asylum politics more humane."
–Eleanor Acer, Director, Asylum Program, Lawyers Committee for Human Rights

"This book shows the injustices suffered by innocent women seeking asylum in the U. S. and the power of religious faith to provide hope and courage even in prison."
–Fauziya Kassindja, author of Do They Hear You When You Cry

"Sulima and Hala epitomize the worldwide struggle of women for equality and justice. Their story is gripping and illuminating."
–Jessica Neuwirth, President of Equality Now ... Read more

Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Timely Topic, A Powerful and Exciting Book
I saw the Court-TV production of CHASING FREEDOM this past Monday (Jan 19). Appropriately, it aired on Martin Luther King Day. It was the story of an Afghan women who fled to the US after escaping horrible treatment by the Taliban. When she came to the US, she was put into detention. It was a great movie and it really brought to life events in Afghanistan and also in US detention centers. The story told in BEHIND THE BURQA is very similar. I can't believe our country is still imprisoning people fleeing persecution. This book (BEHIND THE BURQA) was an amazing experience to read. The suspense was incredible, and I learned about detention in a very vivid way. I recommend the book to anyone who wants to find out more about this very important issue, and to everyone who wants to read a great book!!

5-0 out of 5 stars Suspenseful, Informative and very Current
This book is a powerful account of two brave sisters and their fight for human rights in a fundamentalist society, both for themselves and for other Afghan women. The two sisters hold divergent views of Islam and between them, create a balanced perspective that helped me sort out the true religion from the corruption of the religion by fanatics. As a feminist with a strong interest in world religions, I felt I got a fair insight into the many ways one can regard Islam. It's rare for a book to combine chair-gripping suspense and important new insights and I highly recommend BEHIND THE BURQA to people of both genders and all religious backgrounds and affiliations.

5-0 out of 5 stars Surprise!!!
I picked up this book because I have great respect for Batya Swift Yasgur not because I was interested in the subject. I planned to skim it. I started reading at 9 pm and finished it in the wee hours of the next day. To my surprise it was a page turner. It was also well written which is often not the case with "as told to books" and the subject became fascinating to me.
I learned a great deal and only wish that she had another book on the shelves!

5-0 out of 5 stars Reading this book was both a pleasure and a responsibility.
On behalf of these sisters from Afghanistan, Batya Swift Yasgur writes with a brilliant pen, a compassionate heart, and the desire to facilitate desperately needed social change. Each in turn, the sisters speak of what life was like in Afghanistan, both before and after the institution of the Taliban regime: before, their worries were few and their joys plentiful; after, they were subjugated, oppressed, bullied, beaten. They speak of their friends and family members killed at the hands of a cruel government, of women who took their lives to escape, of not being able to walk outdoors for fear of punishment or even death, of being attacked in their own home. I cried as I read, and my heart broke for them. Reading this book was both a pleasure and a responsibility. After what these women have survived, after what Afghan women are still experiencing, we owe it to them to listen.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sensitive, Shocking and Should be Required Reading
These two sisters lend their voice as a voice of a people, a voice of a nation of women who still struggle to be heard. Not only is this a book of truths, it is a book of horrors at last unveiled. For women living in oppression in any nation, from the United States to Afghanistan to Nigeria, one can only hope that Ms. Yasgur's ability to listen will open the eyes and ears of all humanity. If we did, the reperession and brutality endured by the women in this work--and of women everywhere-- could possibly become a thing of the past. ... Read more

133. Afghanistan International Travel Map
by Viet Hoa Pham, Multi Mapping Ltd
list price: $9.95
our price: $9.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1553411021
Catlog: Book (2002-01-01)
Publisher: International Travel Maps
Sales Rank: 143233
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Scale 1:1,000,000. Printed on both sides.

Detailed map of the country. Elevations shown by color changes. With inset captioned photos of landmarks and scenery.

Legend locates international boundaries; cities and settlements of all sizes down to hamlets; roads from main roads to horse tracks and footpaths. Also airports; national parks; ruins; lakes, rivers, and other water features; points of interest.

Index of place names. Publisher's dedication. (Excerpt: "This map is dedicated to all those Afghans who have suffered oppression over the past twenty years as a result of invasion, war-lordism, religious bigotry, and bombing.") ... Read more

Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Best map for finding small places in Afghanistan
I just returned to the United States after spending six months in Afghanistan.Maps of Afghanistan are plentiful, many are printed by military or United Nations organizations, but most maps are not of the entire country.ITL's map of Afghanistan covers the entire country and shows many of the small villages that are not seen on other maps.The only wrong thing about this map (unavoidable because of the size and detail, I suppose) is it is printed on two sides which makes it impossible to put on a wall and see the whole country unless you buy two maps.I carried my map in my pocket so the printing on both sides was not that much of a problem. The paper quality was fairly good, at least the map did not disintegrate as some Russian made maps are prone to do.The text in the directory of places was tiny but legible and the color printing was good.The best recommendation I can offer for this maps is that when I was ready to leave Afghanistan, a colleague told me how greatly she admired my map so I gave it to her. ... Read more

134. The Rough Guide to Beijing (Rough Guide (Pocket). Beijing)
by Simon Lewis
list price: $15.95
our price: $10.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1843532425
Catlog: Book (2004-02-01)
Publisher: Rough Guides Limited
Sales Rank: 231070
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Reliable, Up-to-Date, Far Better than Lonely Planet
If you plan to go to Beijing and you don't speak Mandarin,
you *need* a good guide book. I consistently found this
to be accurate, and it gave good advice. I met other travelers
using the Lonely Planet, and they didn't find it nearly as
useful. ... Read more

135. Lonely Planet Bangladesh (Lonely Planet Bangladesh)
by Marika McAdam
list price: $25.99
our price: $17.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1740592808
Catlog: Book (2004-11-15)
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
Sales Rank: 93854
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Book Description

Be swept up in the maelstrom of Dhaka, explore the lush forests of the Sundarbans, relax into the serene rhythms of rural life along endless riverbanks and experience the extraordinary kindness of the people - uncover the secrets of one of travel's last frontiers with the only English-language guide to Bangladesh.

• REST EASY - opinionated, in-depth accommodation and eating reviews enable you to make the best choice, whatever your budget
• DISCOVER THE DIVERSITY of this dynamic country with our comprehensive listings of sights and attractions
• FIND YOUR WAY with the help of detailed transport information and over 40 maps
• GET THE BACKGROUND on Bangladesh's intriguing history and culture
• TALK THE TALK with our Bangla language chapter ... Read more

136. Real Thai: The Best of Thailand's Regional Cooking
by Nancie McDermott
list price: $12.95
our price: $9.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0811800172
Catlog: Book (1992-05-01)
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Sales Rank: 22907
Average Customer Review: 4.71 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (21)

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction to Thai cooking
This was the first Thai cookbook I purchased when I first discovered how easy Thai was to make at home about 4 years ago. The recipes prove that you can get restaurant quality food in your home kitchen. My husband and I usually use this book two times or more a week and have never been disappointed. He doesn't like to cook that much so we are especially pleased with the simplicity of most recipes.

Our favorites include our restaurant standards Pad Thai, Chicken Curry and Swimming Rama. We have also found some great new dishes through this book such as the Garlic Shrimp, and the Burmese-Style Pork Curry with Fresh Ginger.

Cooking out of this book has let us explore wonderful new dishes. Also, by all means add more chilis. The hotter the better.

5-0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended!
I picked this book up on a whim and have not stopped reading it and cooking from it for two weeks. The recipes are incredibly easy and straightforward, but definitely as good as anything you can get in any thai restaurant I've eaten in (and I've eaten in them from San Francisco to Atlanta). I've always wanted to be able to make Larb, yum nam toke and just about everything else that is in this book, and every recipe I've tried has been wonderful. I agree with some of the other reviewers: you can add more chili. Though it has no pictures, I find the simple, friendly text very soothing late night reading and I have already read this book several times more than my fancier cookbooks. I recommend it to novices and experts.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Cookbook - been using over 8 years!
We've been using this book as our Thai cooking bible now for eight years, from LA to Baltimore. We became so addicted we even bought a kaiffer lime tree (sadly, had to leave in LA.) We love the tome kai gia, the clay pot shrimp with bean thread noodles, crab fried rice and use the dipping sauce for beef to marinate pork ribs. Once you master the flavors, the recipes are easy to adapt to your taste. We add ginger to the dipping sauce, and cut down on the coconut milk in the tome kai gai. However you do it, it's an amazing cook book. You will need to find a Thai grocery store in your area, though.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
This book is excellent for those interested in Asian meals but do not have a lot of understanding of the grocery list that goes along with it. Meals are simple, delicious and easy to put together.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great recipes
This is a great cookbook. The recipes are relatively easy and the author lists easily found substitutes for hard-to-find authentic thai ingredients. The only problem I have is with the layout of the book. It is organized by region which is nice in the sense that you can read about the region and see what they eat but for practicality, I would prefer appetizers, entrees, noodle dishes, desserts etc. grouped together. ... Read more

137. Lonely Planet Baltic States Phrasebook (Lonely Planet Baltic States Phrasebook)
by Eva Aras, Inna Feldbach, Jana Teteris, Alan Trei
list price: $7.99
our price: $7.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1864503696
Catlog: Book (2001-06-01)
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
Sales Rank: 79181
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Converse with the locals in their own language as you explore the fascinating Baltic countries. Sample some Latvian pîragi, ride a trolliga around Talinn and know what to do when someone shouts Iðgeriam! or Iki dugno! In Lithuania. Packed with tips and cultural information, this handy phrasebook will help you make the most of your Baltic travel adventure.

  • covers Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian
  • clear and concisegrammar sections for each language
  • easy to use pronunciation guides and transliterations throughout
  • indispensable information about local festivals and holidays
  • essential language for camping, sightseeing and getting around
... Read more

Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Incredibly Helpful
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone spending more than a week in the Baltics! Last year, I spent a semester in Lithuania, and this book made the transition much easier! From going to the pharmacy to buy flu medication, to trying to find out where the outdoor market was, to telling a doctor that I had hurt my knee -- this book was constantly by my side and helped me be very independent while in a foriegn country. I was also able to learn a lot of phrases that I wouldn't have in my Lithuanian class. My only complaint is that sometimes the phonetic guide was a bit confusing, but this rarely interfered with my communication (if it does, you can just show the phrase to the person you are trying to speak with).

5-0 out of 5 stars I love this little phrase book!
Actually, I love all "Lonely Planet" phasebooks and travel guides. You can't go wrong with them. These are the road warriors in our collection. They are worn, used and helpful! I want to own stock in Lonely Planet!

So you ask, "isn't there a later edition available?" Don't let that stop you. They are using a winning format and when it comes to speaking at least Lithuanian, little has changed (Lithuanian is a really, really, really old language!)

The book is concise and compact (3.5 x 5 x 1/2). It easily fits in any pocket. That is a major selling point. It is the perfect size to take along.

It has an abreviated pronunciation guide compared the single language versions and no dictionary. That comes form having to divide the space between three languages, so it can't go as in depth. Still,all the essentials are here. If you are planning a few days in each place, you'll be fine.

By the way, when you go to the Baltics, look for a copy of the "In Your Pocket Series" available at the airport or in the major hotels. It will be a great help to you. You can also find it online through a simple web search.

4-0 out of 5 stars It made me curious
This book made me plan my 2-weeks summer-vacation in Estonia. ... Read more

138. Lonely Planet Dubai (Lonely Planet Dubai)
by Terry Carter, Lara Dunston
list price: $17.99
our price: $12.23
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1740597613
Catlog: Book (2004-09-15)
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
Sales Rank: 91010
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Book Description

Sunshine, skyscrapers, souqs and sheesha - Dubai is the cosmopolitan heart of the modern Middle East.Whether you are here for the shopping, beaches, nightlife or architecture, we've got your needs covered with this guidebook.Street-smart and stylish, it will give you expert insight into the city's sophisticated culture and latest attractions.

• GET THE SCOOP from our dedicated Dubai insiders
• SHOP TILL YOU DROP - extensive coverage of souqs, malls and shopping centres
• TAP INTO THE PULSE with the lowdown on the latest entertainment options
• FEAST LIKE A SHEIKH with our discerning listings covering the city's burgeoning culinary scene
• MAKE TRACKS with day trips to Hatta, Sharjah and the Musandam Peninsula ... Read more

139. Into the Heart of Borneo (Vintage Departures)
list price: $12.95
our price: $9.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0394755405
Catlog: Book (1987-09-12)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 43119
Average Customer Review: 4.05 out of 5 stars
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"Ye Gods, old man--don't do it!" you're bound to shriek on page 1 of this hilarious travelogue, on which the author lists the hazards that may befall him--vipers, cholera, crocs, ticks, tuberculosis, malaria, rabies, and 1,700 types of parasitic worms among them. After all, portly, over-the-hill London Times literary reviewer Redmond O'Hanlon hasn't done anything more aerobic than flip the pages of a book for decades; he wasn't even a Boy Scout. It's hardly reassuring that his colleague, poet James Fenton--who had the big idea to trek in Borneo--was a Boy Scout. He hated it, and besides, aged, balding Fenton, whom O'Hanlon describes as rather worm-like, sounds like he's a likely lunch for a swooping black eagle.

But on they trod--with the much-needed help of three Iban natives and an unseen, though oft-quoted river god--through jungle, across rivers whose height may rise seven feet overnight, and via native villages (where they often have late-night parties), with one goal in mind: seeing the fabled Borneo rhino. Fenton is nearly swept away in a whirlpool, they subsist on jungle-worm gruel, and ripping off sucking leeches is a near-daily occurrence, but cultural and natural insights and adventures abound in this rip-roaringly funny and deftly written travelogue that will have you chortling out loud. --Melissa Rossi ... Read more

Reviews (19)

5-0 out of 5 stars This book is a treasure
There are three things you should know about Redmond O'Hanlon's Into the Heart of Borneo: it's very educational, it's very funny, and it's a heckuva good adventure. The premise is that two middle-aged British academics, poet James Fenton and naturalist Redmond O'Hanlon, are dispatched to Borneo in search of the rare mountain Rhinoceros. Whatever their ultimate goal, after two pages you're hooked by O'Hanlon's clever writing and self-deprecating wit as he describes the preparations for their epic journey.
You can learn a lot from this book. For example, did you realize that Borneo is the world's third largest island? that over 1,700 different species of parasitic worm can infest your bloodstream? that a bite from a Wagler's Pit Viper will lead to nothing worse than near-death? On the more substantive side, you will also learn about Borneo's history, native cultures, geography, flora, and fauna-especially its amazing birds! And funny? the education you'll receive about Borneo is a bonus because the book could carry itself quite successfully on O'Hanlon's hilarious writing. Imagine two English intellectuals travelling by foot and canoe through remote rainforest with three Iban tribesman; one of whom, Leon, could host the Letterman Show.
I giggled continually throughout this book. One passage describing how Redmond and the Iban planned to "take Jam's head" upon returning to camp where a nervous but unsuspecting James was waiting had me laughing with glee.
As a fellow middle-aged, balding, and slightly pudgy man, this book gave me great hope that I too could travel to Borneo and survive such an adventure. Read it to learn about Borneo. Read it to laugh. Just read it! You won't be disappointed.

5-0 out of 5 stars At times screamingly funny
This the fifth book I've read on traveling in Borneo, and in certain ways it rivals my favorite (Eric Hansen's "A Stranger in the Forest"). O'Hanlon is not only literate and well-informed on the subject (Borneo) but he's one of those highly educated writers who doesn't take himself (or his elderly, unathletic) traveling companion (a famous poet) seriously. Part of the screamingly funny parts are when O'Hanlon is either making fun of himself or the Borneo natives are making fun of his ineptness. O'Hanlon is fat and out-of-shape and his small, powerfully strong, local guides never let him forget it for a minute! O'Hanlon is able to write characters so well, one feels as if you are on the boat with them; the three guides are lovingly drawn. For those with an interest in the ecology of Borneo, birds, or river journeys, there is much to learn through this engrossing read. I recently saw a documentary that filmed the "remote" areas where O'Hanlon's journey took place and I am sad to say, it has been totally deforested by the Indonesian timber industry; huge corporations that are destroying the Borneo rainforest due to graft and a lack of enforcement by the Indonesian goverment... subjects that O'Hanlon writes about in this book. Think twice about buying teak furniture, much of it comes from poached wood that is illegally cut from Borneo's rainforest, a sad coda to this funny book.

5-0 out of 5 stars All Around Great Reading
If a book has Redmond O'Hanlon's name on it, buy it. While reading this book, when I wasn't laughing out loud (and I never laugh out loud) I was enthralled with the subject matter. I hate to compare writers, but think Paul Theroux (but not mean), David Quammen and throw in a little Tim Cahill for good measure and you come close to Redmond O'Hanlon. I've read a quite a few travelogues and Redmond O'Hanlon represents the very best of the genre.

4-0 out of 5 stars Off to see the lizard.
Long before Bill Bryson set out to take his walk in the woods, London Times' literary reviewer, Redmond O'Hanlon, and his friend, poet James Fenton, trekked deep into the heart of Borneo in search of a rare, albino rhinoceros, accompanied by three Iban natives, Dana, Leon, and Inghai. Romping through jungles, traveling by river, and doing the seven-step disco in late-night villages, the two aging academics tried their best to avoid 1,700 different species of parasitic worms, snakes, wild-boar ticks, leeches, amoebic and bacillary dysentery, yellow and blackwater and dengue fevers, malaria, cholera, typhoid, rabies, hepatitis, tuberculosis and crocodiles. O'Hanlon writes with a naturalist's eye for detail, noting the various birds, insects, trees and critters he encountered along the way. Equal parts travelogue and memoir, and with a generous measure of Monty Python-like humor, INTO THE HEART OF BORNEO relives O'Hanlon's 1983 quest into "the heart of twilight, the home of 'old mankind'" (p. 129). For me, life couldn't be much better, sitting in a Boulder coffeehouse, reading about O'Hanlon's adventures in Borneo.

G. Merritt

5-0 out of 5 stars My favorite travel book
Naturalist and adventurer Redmond O'Hanlon's first travel tome is a timeless classic. His well-observed descriptions of nature are charmingly lyrical and his dry wit (and that
of fellow traveller, reknowned poet James Fenton) will leave you laughing on every page. Think Bill Bryson meets Charles Darwin and you might approximate O'Hanlon's writing style.

I have read all three of his travel books - this one twice - and though "No Mercy" - his Congo odyssey, is the most breathtakingly ambitious and epic in scope, "Borneo", a lighthearted romp, remains my sentimental favorite.

The reader should have a healthy taste for nature and anthropology to fully appreciate any of O'Hanlons works. Birds, insects and trees share equal billing with the human cast. But
O'Hanlon's infectious enthusiasm for flora and fauna, his deprecating humor, his gift of hyberbole and capacity for capturing the nuances of character are enough to keep anyone
glued to the page.

Also in this book (and even more so in the ribald "No Mercy"), there is a surprising amount of sexuality, as the libidinous habits of the Ibans are often as frankly observed as the mating
habits of the Hornbills,Kingfishers and rhinos, adding voyeur to O'Hanlon's talents as naturalist and humorist. ... Read more

140. Vanished Kingdoms: A Woman Explorer in Tibet, China, and Mongolia 1921-1925
by Mabel H. Cabot
list price: $35.00
our price: $23.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1931788081
Catlog: Book (2003-03-01)
Publisher: Aperture
Sales Rank: 89198
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A Testament to the Great Spirit and Success of a Remarkable Woman Explorer

In the early 1920s, the last great age of world explorers, a remarkable young woman, Janet Elliott Wulsin, set out with her husband, Frederick Wulsin, for the far reaches of China, Tibet, and Outer Mongolia to study the people, flora, and fauna of the region. Janet’s strenuous, eventful exploration is detailed by a text enriched with excerpts from her candid personal letters. The journey proved to be a test of the Wulsins’ endurance and of their relationship.

While in Asia, the Wulsins took many extraordinary photographs, which form the heart of this richly produced publication. They documented tribespeople and sublime desert landscapes, and, perhaps most remarkably, were allowed to photograph the interior of several of the great Tibetan Buddhist lamaseries, many of which have since been destroyed. Several dozen rare, hand-painted lantern slides survived and are reproduced here in splendid color.

The photographs from the Wulsin expedition are now in the collection of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, in collaboration with which this volume is being produced.
... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A rich archive of treasures
In the early 1920s, explorer Janet Wulsin and her husband Frederick journeyed the far reaches of China and Tibet to study the people and the lands of these remote regions - the photos from their expedition come to life in this collection, along with several dozen hand-painted lantern slides that appear in color. Vanished Kingdomsis a rich archive of treasures which charts the findings and peoples of a bygone world. Any serious collection of Asian treasures - both art and cultural - will find Vanished Kingdoms an essential addition, unparalleled in scope and coverage. ... Read more

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