Ah…. I needed a good historically oriented travelogue and this just looked like it fit the bill. No-stress reading with a LOT of information! And I have several travelogues lined up in my Wish List so given enough time, I’ll get to them . 🙂
The book opens with information on where the journey will take his party which consists of himself and an unmarried couple, all good friends. The first goal is the Amur River which serves as a kind of border between Russia and China. It’s where Ghengis Khan came from and he had a very interesting life, especially his youth.
Black Dragon River: A Journey Down the Amur River Between Russia and China
by Dominic Ziegler
2015 / 366 pages
Rating: 8 / travel- history
(read and listened)
En route to his geographical starting point, Burkhan Kahaldun, the beauties of the natural setting are discussed. There is an abundance of wildlife, grasses, cranes, water,
After giving an overview of Genghis Khan’s exploits along with those of a few of his sons the story of early Kiev and all Russia, really, is told, affected as deeply and forever as it was by the Mongols.
“And so from the Mongols came the source blood of czarist despotism, Soviet totalitarianism, and the post-Soviet autocracy of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.”
“If the Mongols had not come west, if Kiev had not suffered its holocaust, the Russians might never have pushed east.” (p. 61)
But the book is a lot more than the Mongol story. It covers the history along the Amur River, the border of Russia and China plus Russia and Mongolia and the river itself winds its long way east from central Asia to the Sea of Okhotsk in the western Pacific north of Japan.
Very interesting – there are no pictures in the book but those are easy enough to find online – the better part is that the chapter titles are the exact latitudes and longitudes where he is traveling at the moment. For instance:
For Chapter 6 in Kindle for iPad, if you click on where it says: 52 ° 18.0′ N 104 ° 17.7′ E
and choose Google you will come up with the precise location on a map – I don’t know why not, but it doesn’t work with the regular Google search. Here is the link as shown on my iPad (I copy/paste it via Notes on my Mac. I checked and it worked for me. – It always worked as I wound my way through the Kindle book on my iPad.
The history goes from the birth of Genghis Khan and the origins of his Mongol tribes as they expanded all the way deep inside Russia then back via the Russian Eastern expansion for the Boxer wars in China to the end of the Qing Dynasty – and that’s prior to the Russian Revolution, so then there’s a bit of Bolshevist policies, Stalin-era oppression and finally Putin while the Chinese, as has been their tradition, have simply tried to get along with their neighbors.
That said, there is a lot of conflict from the Russian expansion to the Cossack presence to the resource development. And there’s Buddhism vs Christianity vs Atheism (the official Communist kind) and other religions who mostly live peacefully next to each other
ANYWAY!!! It’s been a long time since I studied Russian history and that class certainly didn’t cover Eastern Russia. It wasn’t about this remote part of the globe but there are certainly a lot of fascinating people and events to explore. There is a certain similarity to the US and our westward expansion into a virtually lawless frontier peopled by natives and resources.
Except for one map, there are no photos or graphics in the book, I suppose we all have access to the internet now so because of that, I had to look them up some photos myself but I even do that for fiction.
Sounds interesting. It seems you enjoyed it overall.
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Yup – I got really engrossed for awhile and then the interest would level off but then after that chapter or so the interest would go back up. Mostly up but not always.