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Riding the Iron Rooster: By Train Through China (1988)

de Paul Theroux

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1,855359,303 (3.88)46
Biography & Autobiography. Travel. Nonfiction. HTML:

The acclaimed travel writer chronicles a year of train travel across China in a revealing travelogue that "gives the reader much to relish and think about" (Publishers Weekly).

The author of the train travel classics The Great Railway Bazaar and The Old Patagonian Express, takes to the rails once again in this account of his epic journey through China. The always irascible, infectiously curious author "is in top form as he describes the barren deserts of Mongolia and Xinjiang, the ice forests of Manchuria and the dry hills of Tibet. He captures their otherworldly, haunting appearances perfectly. He is also right on target when he talks about the ugliness of China's poorly planned, hastily built cities" (Mark Salzman, The New York Times).

Theroux hops aboard a train as part of a tour group in London and sets out for China's border. He then spends a year traversing the country, where he pieces together a fascinating snapshot of a unique moment in history. From sweeping and desolate natural landscapes to the dense metropolises of Shanghai, Beijing, and Canton, Theroux offers an unforgettable portrait of a magnificent land and an extraordinary people.… (més)
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» Mira també 46 mencions

Anglès (27)  Castellà (4)  Neerlandès (2)  Francès (1)  Alemany (1)  Totes les llengües (35)
Es mostren 1-5 de 35 (següent | mostra-les totes)
First book I read by Theroux, which convinced me to read most of his other travel books. ( )
  sfj2 | Apr 26, 2024 |
For the younger generation he is the father of Louis. For the oldies he is the best travel author in the world. Actually he is both. He is a typical loner who loves to travel his own way and doesn’t like advice or rules from others. That makes him sometimes cynical, but always honest and open. If something resembles a tourist trap, he will avoid it or just say it isn’t worth it.

Several of his books have found their way on my bookshelves, also some of his fiction. Not bad either, but I certainly prefer his travel books. This story starts on a group journey from London through Paris, Berlin and Moscow towards Mongolia, the author already could have written a whole book about his trip and his fellow passengers before he actually enters China on page 66.

Theroux takes time to get to know a destination. He is not there to write an article, to see some highlights; he is there to understand a place, to get a feel for the country. This to me is the essence of travelling. Theroux will never be a tourist; he is the ultimate traveller. He even seems to read a bit of the language. Language is an important part of communication, to me an inevitable part. This is also the main reason that I have not travelled a lot in Asia. I love to be able to talk to locals in their own lingo. I can’t do that in bad English.

Therefore I’m quite pleased that Theroux does travel there, giving me the opportunity as an armchair traveller to follow his expedition through a country that is not high on my to-do list. China is a world on its own; it is quite difficult to say anything that goes for the entire country. The differences between city and country, between north and south, between east and west are huge.

Often did I return to page 10/11 to have a quick glance on the map, to see where Theroux was at the time. I like him travelling by train, as it does give the book more depth, it tells me a lot more about the Chinese compared to taking flights within the country.

Even though it took me ages to read the nearly 500 pages of this book, the book doesn’t get boring. It does get confusing at times though, but that is mainly because of my lack of knowledge before reading this book. There are cities in China bigger than most big cities I know, yet even though a few million people live there, I had never heard of the place and, dare admitting it, have since forgotten the name again.

Theroux is cynical at times, especially as he encounters the lack of liberty he likes. He gets chaperoned and is incredibly annoyed by that. I can imagine as well. Not sure how these days travelling in China goes, though in the eighties when he wrote this volume, the world had a completely different look, the political climate was a bit different from what we know these days.

Yet, even given the troubles he encounters wherever he goes, he makes the most of it and manages to get to know big parts of the country. His eye for detail, a great memory, everything he notes must be jotted down soon afterwards, makes this book a great read. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading it and hopefully will read many more travel book by Paul Theroux.

Quote: “Wanneer een land brulde dat het tot de laatste druppel bloed zou vechten, betekende dat meestal dat het op het punt stond zich over te geven; en in China kon je over het algemeen niets als waar beschouwen totdat het onkend was. Alles wat officieel ontkend werd, was waarschijnlijk waar.”

Quote: “When a country screams that it would fight until the last drop of blood, most of the time this means that it was at the point of surrender; in China nothing could be considered the truth until it had been denied. Everything that was officially denied was probably true.” (p. 136)
  privaterevolution | Mar 4, 2024 |
En 1986, Paul Theroux decidió viajar a China aprovechando un año sabático. Su instinto le decía que un país tan enorme sólo puede conocerse sin despegar los pies del suelo. Y se propuso atravesarlo viajando sólo en tren. De Mongolia a Pekín, de Pekín a Shanghai, de Shanghai a Cantón, y de allí hacia el norte y por todo el interior del país, Theroux recorrió miles de kilómetros. El resultado es un itinerario palpitante de detalles y anécdotas, en la mejor tradición de reportaje literario, que muestra sin tópicos ni folclorismos la realidad profunda de China.
  Natt90 | Jan 5, 2023 |
Otro ejemplar en la colecció Lis libros de Siete Leguas. SLTBL5
  JIGSoto | Mar 14, 2021 |
Ceuta, Junio 2002
  MOTORRINO | Dec 13, 2020 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 35 (següent | mostra-les totes)
''Riding the Iron Rooster'' is Mr. Theroux's account of a journey that would drive most people insane. Traveling in China (which is different from living in China) for even a week can be exhausting; how he managed to do it for a year is beyond my comprehension. As one has come to expect of him, Mr. Theroux never wastes a word when re-creating his adventures. He is in top form as he describes the barren deserts of Mongolia and Xinjiang, the ice forests of Manchuria and the dry hills of Tibet. He captures their otherworldly, haunting appearances perfectly. He is also right on target when he talks about the ugliness of China's poorly planned, hastily built cities. But his book is mainly about Chinese people, and it appears that Mr. Theroux didn't like them much
afegit per John_Vaughan | editaNY Times, Mark Salzman (Jul 19, 1988)
 

» Afegeix-hi altres autors (13 possibles)

Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Theroux, Paulautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Davids, TinkeTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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Biography & Autobiography. Travel. Nonfiction. HTML:

The acclaimed travel writer chronicles a year of train travel across China in a revealing travelogue that "gives the reader much to relish and think about" (Publishers Weekly).

The author of the train travel classics The Great Railway Bazaar and The Old Patagonian Express, takes to the rails once again in this account of his epic journey through China. The always irascible, infectiously curious author "is in top form as he describes the barren deserts of Mongolia and Xinjiang, the ice forests of Manchuria and the dry hills of Tibet. He captures their otherworldly, haunting appearances perfectly. He is also right on target when he talks about the ugliness of China's poorly planned, hastily built cities" (Mark Salzman, The New York Times).

Theroux hops aboard a train as part of a tour group in London and sets out for China's border. He then spends a year traversing the country, where he pieces together a fascinating snapshot of a unique moment in history. From sweeping and desolate natural landscapes to the dense metropolises of Shanghai, Beijing, and Canton, Theroux offers an unforgettable portrait of a magnificent land and an extraordinary people.

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