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Behind The Wall


When Colin Thubron took his 10,000-mile trip across China in 1985, it was to travel a country just emerging from its years of isolation during the Cultural Revolution. From Beijing to the borders of Burma and from Shanghai to the Guilin mountains, he travelled alone, by whatever local transport he could find. The result is a remarkable account of the new China, at a unique time in its history.

Thubron visits the obvious attractions, summoning near-mythical landmarks with his beautiful, almost dream-like prose. He describes the ‘commotion of sculptured dragons’ that swarm the marble of the Forbidden City, and how the Great Wall scales ‘the furthest precipices in a megalomaniac sliver’ and disappears ‘into cloud-patterned mountains’. At the burial mound of the first emperor, Qin Shihuangdi, he relates how each terracotta warrior, with its unique facial expression, imparts an ‘unearthly living quality’ to this ghostly army. Alongside these popular destinations, Thubron also ventures inside schools, abandoned monasteries, prisons and hospitals, talking and eating and even staying with the people he meets.

Hardback: 376 Pages
Product Dimensions: 152 x 228 mm

Published by The Folio Society