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Journeys on the Silk Road: A Desert Explorer, Buddha's Secret Library, and the Unearthing of the World's Oldest Printed Book
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Journeys on the Silk Road: A Desert Explorer, Buddha's Secret Library, and the Unearthing of the World's Oldest Printed Book

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  192 ratings  ·  38 reviews
A literary thriller-meets-travel adventure-meets-popular history rife with a fascinating cast of characters that includes a misfit explorer named Aurel Stein, a cunning abbot, and a fox terrier named Dash the Great, all set against the land of dunes, sandstorms, and the mysteries of the East.
ebook, 336 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by Lyons Press (first published 2011)
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(showing 1-30 of 847)
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Peter Clothier
We look askance today at what was done in the 19th century in the name of empire and world-wide dominion. The European powers engaged in the Great Game of colonial expansion felt free to wander the globe appropriating whole countries, peoples and natural resources to enhance their political and economic power. By the same token, they swallowed up whole cultural heritages, plundering, crating up, and shipping artifacts back to the great museums in Paris, St. Petersburg, Berlin, London, and other ...more
Viviane Crystal
Here is the account about Aurel Stein, the archaeologist, and his dog, Dash, and their astounding journey across what is known as the Silk Road, a journey traversing China, Tibet, India and more lands. Funded by the British government, Stein's job was to look for valuable pieces that would add to Great Britain's museum collection; but Stein's interests lay in a different direction. So he found no difficulty finding enough "gems," figuratively speaking to make his funders happy. But the rest of t ...more
Diane S.
3.5 I am not very familiar with Buddhism, but my son recently went on a ten day Buddhist retreat, and no he is not becoming a Buddhist but he wanted to get deeper into the practice of meditation. So when I saw this book I thought it would provide me with some history and some interesting idioms of their practice.

This journey made by Aurel Stein, was a major success, uncovering a library cave that was filled with scripts 10 ft. high. The cave and others were under the protection of a monk, so th
...more
Rachel
I absolutely loved this book that I randomly picked up in the new nonfiction section at the library! It was a narrative nonfiction about Hungarian/British explorer Sir Aurel Stein and his now famous discovery of the Diamond Sutra (the world's oldest printed book - a woodblock printed source from the 8th century) and a secret library of Buddhist texts that he discovered in Dunhuang, China in 1911. The story is set in Chinese Turkestan and charts his journey to the Cave of the Thousand Buddhas, an ...more
Louise
I was a bit concerned on starting this book that, although there appeared to be lots of quotes, there was little referencing. However, on investigation, the authors had opted for endnotes, rather than footnotes. Relax of scholarly outrage!

Part biography, part history, part travel/journeys/exploration, this book centres on the discovery of the oldest, dated, printed 'book' - the Diamond Sutra. Starting with Aurel Stein's preparations for his exploration into the Taklamakan and Gobi deserts, the a
...more
Vidya Tiru
Books like this should replace history text books – this makes history oh so interesting. At least, excerpts from books like this should be included in the stuffy history books.

This book follows Aurel Stein on his greatest expedition – his adventurous journey across the famed, ancient, unknown Silk Road – in his quest for the past. Each chapter of this wonderful book relates an adventure, a story further into history, or a peek into the Stein’s future after the momentous discovery of the Diamond
...more
Tasia
Though the beginning is a bit slow, once you get into the midst of discovery, things really draw you in. I had been under the impression that the first book coincided with the first printing press, but oh no-- the Diamond Sutra is indeed the first book. A very good read for anyone interested in archeology, anthropology, or who want to understand just what early twentieth century scholars were up against. And the Germans, man! I thought Indiana Jones was just making them into twisty-mustache vill ...more
Lynnet
Interesting and engaging, but the western-centrism throughout the books becomes increasingly depressing in its final chapters.
Kerry
A cleanly written, well-structured tale that needed no sensationalist embellishment due to its inherently incredible nature. The real-life actors of this seemingly made-for-movie story, from the austere and introverted Stein to his loyal and many-talented assistant Chiang to the various incarnations of the indomitable fox terrier Dash are brought to life with just the right balance between detail and scene. Morgan doesn't bog down her text with florid descriptions, long-winded excerpts from docu ...more
Sicofonia
Journeys on the Silk Road tells the story of the Diamond Sutra's discovery by Aurel Stein in 1907. It starts by giving a background on Aurel Stein and how he became captivated by Alexander the Great at a young age, eventually developing a keen interest in Central Asia.
Then it goes on to detailing how Stein set up the expedition to Chinese Turkestan to excavate an area where, by all accounts, some interesting scrolls had been found. Stein thought those scrolls could help him to prove that before
...more
Jrobertus
THe subject matter is fascinating and the writing style is crisp and clear. The authors tell the story of Aurel Stein, a Hungarian born naturalized Brit who explored Turkestan and Sinkiang at the turn of the 20th century. He found and recovered, or looted if you prefer, a fantastic Buddhist cave library at the edge of the Taklamakan desert. This was part of a major race with German, French, Japanese and Russian looters to open up the lost history of the place. Among other treasures, Stein made o ...more
Mark C Petersen
It kind of felt like wondering in the desert to read this book.

I've often thought that historical movies can either be entertaining or accurate but it is a rare thing for them to be both. Upon completing this book I find the same to be true for books. This book mostly covers the experiences of Marc Aurel Stein as he explored the Gobi and Takalaman deserts in search of antiquities. The authors do a good job of keeping things historically accurate by referencing many of Stein's letters to friends
...more
Jill
The story of Aurel Stein, an explorer and archaeologist, who in 1907 travelled to the sacred Caves of the Thousand Buddhas in western China where a hidden library that had been sealed for more than a thousand years had just been rediscovered. Amongst the manuscripts which Stein took from the hidden room was a wood block copy of the 'Diamond Sutra' - dated AD868, 500 years before Gutenberg's Bible. , the discovery has illuminated the spread of Buddhism along the Silk Road. Stein’s personal story ...more
Sarah Purcell
Fascinating History that reads like a novel!
Maggie
totally enjoyed this factual account of the recovery of the diamond sutra by a british explorer in the early 1900s. this version of the diamond sutra is considered the oldest printed book in human history. stein's retrieval of it is an adventure worth telling and certainly worth reading about. years in the journey, challenged by other explorers, and crossing the highest mountains in the world as well as the driest most brutal deserts all come together to make this a fine read.

Tinadub
I really enjoyed this book - excellent story telling. The first part of the book focuses on Aurel Stein's work and working relationships, which I find fascinating. The authors add to Stein’s story by discussing the politics and ethics related to aggressively removing antiquities from the countries in which they were found, as Stein did. They touch on many more points related to Stein's trophy, the Diamond Sutra: it's meaning(s), it’s security & exhibition history, contemporary religious and ...more
Liz
I didn't really know what to expect from this book. Basically it's about the journey of the Diamond Sutra scroll -- the oldest dated book on record -- from its unearthing in 1908 until the present, with a good chunk describing the 1908 trek across the Taklamakan & Gobi deserts that led to its unearthing. This seems to be a book of tangents, in a way. They all loosely surround the Sutra: glimpses into the lives of Silk Road inhabitants 1200 years ago, the Westernization of Buddha as seen thro ...more
Nora
A really interesting look ate one man whose archeological explorations that returned many treasures of religious and artistic merit. It is amazingly positive in tone in a time when so many nations where competing to see who could find the best ancient loot.
Fred Donaldson
THOUGHT PROVOKING BIO OF SCHOLAR EXPLORER

well organized to keep suspense building while filling this epic with rich detail. gave a lay person enough information to help appreciate the value and beauty of these treasures.

Wendy Hines
I have to admit, I had never heard of the Diamond Sutra until I picked up Journeys on the Silk Road. To be honest, it kind of reminded me a bit of Dan Brown's writing and the Indiana Jones movies. It had that adventurous feel, as well as, the intrigue of discovering an important piece of history.

Morgan and Walters have definitely done their research -the details in this book are astounding and will keep you thoroughly absorbed. It did get a bit dry, in certain parts, but it was all relevant to t
...more
Lucy
very interesting recounting of the arduous task of finding an original Diamond Sutra of 868 and an entire cave full of manuscripts, murals, & artwork which eventually ended up in museums in England & India
Jean
Fascinating accounting of a historian's search for ancient documents related toChina and the Silk Road. So much information and so interesting to see how the author persisted in his search.
Wendy E Williams
Great read

Great read


what a great read. I loved it. great historical account. what a magnificent view into the past. I highly recommend.

Jacqueline
Interesting little book about the oldest printed book still existing in the world that we know of - The Diamond Sutra of 868 CE
Patrick Lum
Great information and content, but with a very understated, low key kind of flare to it - rather like Stein.
World Literature Today
"Still, the book is not most importantly an adventure story, or an explication of a vital Buddhist text, although it is these things, too. Rather, it seems to me an inspired musing on and demonstration of the centrality of the written word to global history and culture and the importance of its ongoing existence." - Carolyn Bliss, University of Utah

This book was reviewed in the May 2013 issue of World Literature Today. Read the full review by visiting our site: http://bit.ly/12z8ejw
Joyce
A fascinating look at the Silk Road, and the discovery of the what turns out to be the world's oldest book.
Lisa
A crossroads of stories spanning hundreds of years and cultures make this a fascinating read. The authors touched on the origin of the Caves of a Thousand Buddhas, the migration of Buddhism to China, and the discovery of hundreds of Sutra scrolls. Well worth a read if you have an interest in Buddhism, archaeology, and adventure.
Kathleen
Easy to read, informative.
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