As a child, award-winning travel writer Stanley Stewart dreamed of crossing Mongolia on horseback. This is the story of how that dream was fulfilled by following in the footsteps of a 13th-century Franciscan friar.
Eight centuries ago the Mongols burst forth from Central Asia in a series of spectacular conquests that took them from the Danube to the Yellow Sea. Their empire was seen as the final triumph of the nomadic ‘barbarians’. But in time the Mongols sank back into the obscurity from which they had emerged, almost without trace. Remote and outlandish, Outer Mongolia became a metaphor for exile, a lost domain of tents and horsemen, little changed since the days of Genghis Khan.
In this remarkable book, Stanley Stewart sets off in the wake of an obscure 13th century Franciscan friar on a pilgimage across the old empire, from Istanbul to the distant homeland of the Mongol Hordes. The heart of his odyssey is a thousand-mile ride on horseback, among nomads for whom travel is a way of life, through a trackless land governed by winds and patterns of migration. On a journey full of bizarre characters and unexpected encounters, he crosses the desert and mountains of Central Asia, battles through the High Altay and the fringes of the Gobi, to the wind-swept grasslands of the steppes and the birthplace of Genghis Khan.
Vivid, hilarious, and compelling, this eagerly-awaited book will take its place among travel classics – a thrilling tale of adventure, a comic masterpiece, an evocative portrait of a medieval land marooned in the modern world.
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In recent years, Mongolia has received unprecedented literary attention. Stanley Stewart's third travel book, In the Empire of Genghis Khan, puts Stewart in the company of Tim Severin, Nick Middleton and Benedict Allen, telling of his journey across Mongolia on horseback, in the hoofprints of the famous Mongol emperor.
Stewart's narrative is moulded in the style of older travel classics, as both an epic journey and an historical quest, and the 2001 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award has been given to him for the book, making Stewart only the second writer--after Jonathan Raban--to win the "Booker of travel writing" twice.
Interestingly, Stewart is a very different writer to Raban, with his prose being most distinctive when dwelling on Mongolia's wild geography--here, its lyricism and scope make it a joy to read. Insightful when discussing Mongol culture and history, and sensitive to the concerns of the nomadic way of life, his only flaw in this book is in trying to drag too much humour out of his subjects, which occasionally makes him a less than sympathetic companion to the isolated people that he meets.
Nevertheless, In the Empire of Genghis Khan is beautifully written and Stewart's style wins through. Travelling with local guides and meeting hundreds of Mongolian nomads, his book introduces us to a little-known world of vodka-drinking shamans and summer festivals in the steppe. In the course of his exciting, demanding journey, he paints an intimate portrait of a world that most of us find difficult to imagine, and of a way of life that will probably vanish during our lifetimes. --Toby GreenReview:
‘One of the best travel books of the year.’ Sunday Times
‘Humane and funny…an excellent book with sharp, compassionate observations on the lives of people struggling with the weight of history.’ Spectator
‘Stewart is a sensitive, observant traveller, and a gifted writer…in this entertaining, colourful and moving book he reveals both the sad absurdity of this beguiling land and the heartbreaking pathos of its modern history.’ Sara Wheeler, Literary Review
‘A classic travel story, beautifully written…’ Wanderlust
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Book Description Book Condition: New. Depending on your location, this item may ship from the US or UK. Bookseller Inventory # 97800065302750000000
Book Description Flamingo, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0006530273
Book Description HARPER COLLINS, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: NEW. 9780006530275 This listing is a new book, a title currently in-print which we order directly and immediately from the publisher. Bookseller Inventory # HTANDREE0983800
Book Description Flamingo, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 240 pages. This item is printed on demand. Bookseller Inventory # zk0006530273