The Silk Road, which linked imperial Rome and distant China, was once the greatest thoroughfare on earth Along it travelled precious cargoes of silk, gold and ivory, as well as revolutionary new ideas Its oasis towns blossomed into thriving centres of Buddhist art and learning In time it began to decline The traffic slowed, the merchants left and finally its towns vanished beneath the desert sands to be forgotten for a thousand years But legends grew up of lost cities filled with treasures and guarded by demons In the early years of the last century foreign explorers began to investigate these legends, and very soon an international race began for the art treasures of the Silk Road Huge wall paintings, sculptures and priceless manuscripts were carried away, literally by the ton, and are today scattered through the museums of a dozen countries Peter Hopkirk tells the story of the intrepid men who, at great personal risk, led these long range archaeological raids, incurring the undying wrath of the Chinese....
|Title||:||Foreign Devils on the Silk Road|
|Publisher||:||John Murray March 27, 2006|
|Number of Pages||:||272 pages|
|File Size||:||696 KB|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Foreign Devils on the Silk Road Reviews
Hopkirk's book focuses primarily on the men who travelled the Silk Road in search of ancient treasures. Clearly I was born the wrong sex, in the wrong time; while a lot of these men may be considered treasure-hunting rogues, many of them were highly intelligent, gifted, and brave to have completed these expeditions and excavations, and they have my awe and respect. Their stories and rivalries were very interesting to read.
This is an excellent book on the European archeological digs in the Taklamakan desert circa the beginning of the 20th century. I came upon this book after watching the Youtube videos of The Silk Road I made by the Japanese Telecom company in 1980s. This book provides a lot of background to the travels of the video team in the documentary. It explains the people, methods and results of Great Britain, France, Germany and Japan in their search for early Chinese Buddhist relics and manuscripts.
After reading "The Great Game", I have been on a Peter Hopkirk binge ever since. I was a little skeptical regarding "Foreign Devils", I mean I have no artistic inclinations to speak of. So I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed this book.
I recently visited Xinjiang province on a Silk Road tour. This book had been recommended to me, but I didn't get a chance to read it until I returned from the trip. In some ways, perhaps that was better, since although the story is very engaging, it does presume some knowledge of the geography and history of the region, and there are a lot of place names to keep straight, which is much easier once one has been there. (It's also the case that spelling conventions have changed in the years since this book was published. For example, the town referred to as Tun-Huang in the book is now generally spelled Dunhuang; similarly, Kuche is now more frequently Kuqa.) But these are minor concerns. Peter Hopkirk is an engaging writer and makes the story of "foreign devils" from Britain, France, Japan, Russia, and the US who visited "Chinese Turkestan" in the late 19th and early 20th century accessible to non-experts. He navigates the tricky question of whether they did more good than harm in removing art treasures from their native locations, and his perspective is a balanced one that addresses, but doesn't overly dwell on, the unresolvable question of whether these artifacts, protected for centuries by inaccessibility and the dryness of the Taklamakan desert, would have survived the political and religious attacks in modern times without removal. Hopkirk spends considerably more time piecing together the hair-raising adventures that the "foreign devils" endured in the extreme climate of the Taklamakan, including stories that remind the modern traveler how much has changed in the past century.