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Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  619 ratings  ·  97 reviews
“Alice Albinia is the most extraordinary traveler of her generation. . . . A journey of astonishing confidence and courage.”—Rory Stewart

One of the largest rivers in the world, the Indus rises in the Tibetan mountains and flows west across northern India and south through Pakistan. It has been worshipped as a god, used as a tool of imperial expansion, and today is the cem
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Paperback, 366 pages
Published April 5th 2010 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published November 11th 2008)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,957)
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Paddy Docherty
Jun 01, 2008 Paddy Docherty rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with wanderlust
This is a wonderful book, a triumphant mix of history and travel told in a very engaging way. Alice Albinia takes us upstream along the ancient river Indus, from the Arabian Sea in Pakistan to the river's source in Tibet, and back in time to prehistory. The rich historical evidence is explored in person through some highly adventurous forays into tribal badlands and numerous illegal border crossings, and I found it a gripping read. She is an engaging travelling companion, and writes beautifully, ...more
Arun Divakar
So let man consider of what he is created:
He is created of water pouring forth.
~ Qur'an

This piece of text above from a religious scripture is but a reverberation of an undeniable fact that life began in water and that is sustained by water. Most creation myths and the science behind evolution also nod their heads in assent about these seemingly god like powers of this confluence of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. It was then only natural that the first forms of human habitation took r
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Dr.Mayurakshi
Jun 03, 2012 Dr.Mayurakshi rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who are interested in travel literature and history
Shelves: favorites
Alice Albinia’s book is one of the best book in the travel literature genre that I’ve read in recent times.

Wanderlust, astonishing sense of adventure, and a never-ending hunger to gather little known facts and the history of every place she visits is what makes her such a brilliant travel writer. A lot of research has gone into the making of the book, and it is evident from the numerous journals, books and ancient scripts she quotes to emphasize her findings. It’s the best kind of book with suc
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Manu Prasad
I am showing signs of travelogue addiction, and this is the kind of book that creates it! It's not just the content of the book, which is marvelous and makes for a treasure trove of information, but the sheer tenacity and guts the author displays, that has made me a fan. Spanning four countries, this book is the story of the river Indus, from its source to its destination, though not in a linear way. What it succeeds in doing, like the best travelogues do, is to also allow us to travel through t ...more
John
British journalist Alice Albinia, in her first book, follows the Indus River from its mouth in the Arabian Sea, through Pakistan and finally to its source in Tibet. In the process, she introduces us to people on the way and tells of the history of the regions along the Indus. And there is a lot of history, indeed.
Albinia seems to be not only a historian and journalist but more than capable as a geologist, archaeologist, anthropologist, linguist and explorer. And an adventurer -- she makes Indian
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Tazeen
Extremely well written. My personal fav was the chapter about Sheedis. I don't think I have read anything written about Sheedis with so much empathy by any Pakistani writer. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Kishwar
REALLY enjoyed this book - it was kind of a travelogue with a lot of history thrown in. Thanks to this book I could explain to my cousin working in rural sindh that the "Sindhu" river was really the Indus!
Munir Hyder
This books takes you on a long deep journey of civilization of the greater Sindhu. its simply owsome. jeay sindh (indus)
Chiara Baroni
Imperi dell'Indo. La storia di un fiume è un autentico capolavoro della letteratura di viaggio, accompagnato dalla bellissima foto di copertina firmata Steve McCurry che ritrae una gondola sul lago Dal, a Srinagar, nel Kashmir. Romanzo di viaggio e insieme indagine etnografica, il libro è l'acuto resoconto dell'eccezionale viaggio che Alice Albinia compie a ventinove anni, seguendo il corso del «più antico fiume conosciuto» nella regione, l'Indo. Scegliendo un itinerario geografico-temporale, cu ...more
Patrick
While this book would more properly be titled "My travels in Pakistan and Afghanistan (even though the Indus doesnt flow there), and oh yeah, to get a book deal heres some stuff about empires, and look, I went to Tibet", it was a very informative and relatively intertaining read.

The authors interests clearly lie with Pakistan and its muslim history, and she spends the vast majority of the book discussing Islams historical impact on Pakistan. There is lots of first-person travelogue, and you cert
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Atul Sabnis
Somewhere in the middle of September 2009, was when I started reading this book. As I went through the early pages, I slipped into a comfortable and complacent state - I would finish readingEmpires of the Indus: The Story of a River in a few of days; I'll cruise through it, I told myself.

It wasn't to be so.

The history of the river and of the 'empires' and the folklore and the community that laces this river challenged my curiosity as I, now, slowly made through the pages. The excitement that the
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Les
One of the largest rivers in the world, the Indus rises in the Tibetan mountains, flowing west across northern India and south through Pakistan. It has been worshipped as a god and used as a tool of imperial expansion, and today it is the cement of Pakistan's fractious union. In Empires of the Indus, Alice Albinia follows the river upstream, through two thousand miles of geography and back to a time five thousand years ago when a string of sophisticated cities grew on its banks. "This turbulent ...more
Barry
Interesting travel and history account of the Indus River by a woman who travels in the regions of the river from Karachi, through Sindh and Punjab up to the Indus headwaters in Tibet. Her account includes trips into Afghanistan and India as well.
It is an interesting documentary of travel in an area that is not often crossed by Europeans, particularly recently and reveals an interesting area of the world where religious zealots have screwed the pooch for millions of people.
If you are wondering a
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Faisal
A wonderfully gifted writer. I was amazed at the sheer depth of preception from Alice Albinia. Its true the narritave is about mainly about the indus itself but the book reveals so much more about the land, history, society, economy, its people customs and the intricate relationship which weaves this fabric together.[return][return]This is a very unbiased history of a comparatively small corner of the subcontinent from which its easy to extrapolate the essence of being in the sub continent.[retu ...more
Yousef M
(Letter to the Author)

Hi Ms. Albinia,

I just wanted to thank you so much for writing "Empires of the Indus". I picked it up from my local Barnes & Noble a few days ago and I absolutely loved it. As an American of Pakistani & Kashmiri descent who has traveled to (and briefly lived in) Pakistan and India, your weaving of personal narrative with history was fascinating and truly enlightening. I have recommended my family members read your book as well. I hope you continue to write on the sub
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Yousef M
(Letter to the Author)

Hi Ms. Albinia,

I just wanted to thank you so much for writing "Empires of the Indus". I picked it up from my local Barnes & Noble a few days ago and I absolutely loved it. As an American of Pakistani & Kashmiri descent who has traveled to (and briefly lived in) Pakistan and India, your weaving of personal narrative with history was fascinating and truly enlightening. I have recommended my family members read your book as well. I hope you continue to write on the sub
...more
Abhiram
I'll sum up in one word - 'Amazing'. Really relished every bit of it.
The author takes the reader on a geographical-historical journey upstream along the mighty Indus. Starting from the mouth of the Indus & its delta abutting the Arabian Sea, the path traverses Sindh, Punjab, the historically unruly tribal North-west, Afghanistan, Kashmir and into Tibet via Ladakh. As the landscape changes, so does the context - from partition to British Raj, Mughal rule to Buddhist empires and Vedic period t
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Vedvrat Shikarpur
A good book to learn the various facets of Indian continental civilization... its amazing how the whole of South-East Asia can relate to the history in this book. A slightly derogatory viewpoint in some cases which needs to be sensitised, but not too obscure for someone who isn't from here. The plight of the river and the changing natural courses with changing faces of human history is a fascinating comparison. A definite read for those interested in the beginning of Indian history and civilizat ...more
Steve
A wonderful book. I do think that travel authors must be somewhat insane, and that is certainly true here, as the author, a 29-year-old British woman travels alone the length of the Indus River from its now-dry delta on the Arabian Sea to the source in Tibet. Most of the trip was through Pakistan--do not try this at home! She mixes contemporary reporting with history, going further and further back as she goes further and further up the river. Compelling storytelling and very interesting stories ...more
Veerakesari
Mar 07, 2011 Veerakesari rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
A brilliant travel book blended with history and what makes it good is the wonderful storytelling style. It takes us by surprise to know that a woman chose to travel in the war-trodden country to trace the foot trails of ancient kings and warlords and as well as common people. We are also feeling sad at end with the author when the mighty river once flowed through history witnessing invaders and saints is no more mighty but a slow running stream. Water is precious. For someone it is sacred.
Arghya Dutta
This book is a result of hard and brave work on the part of the writer. The prose flows smoothly and is a pleasure to read. But somehow it gives the impression - at least to me- as the writing of a person with some preconceived notions about happiness and quality of life; I cannot but disagree with her on certain points. Also the writer seems to have been a little weary of religion and its practices.
Ravi
Alice's book on the Indus is a delightful read. A history book inside a travelogue wrapped in a personal diary styled writing. This book's strength is how it covers the history of the Indus from so many perspectives - empires, tribes, religions and common folk like fishermen, soldiers and the like.

A must read for anyone interested in the history of the subcontinent and what forces shaped it.
John
Quite well-written -- I'd be interested in reading more books by this author. I've always found narratives of travel in Kashmir confusing, even with a map provided, and the final chapter on the headwaters of the Indus in Tibet seemed an anti-climax to me, but I highly recommend the book to those interested in the region, especially stories of solo female travelers.
Tariq Mahmood
This a most brilliant travelogue of the most venerated river in Pakistan. Alice has managed to present the lives of the people living around the Indus of today, juxtaposing with ancient history and mythology. The result is a very captivating anthropological study of many marginalised tribes and cultures which will probably be assimilated into the mainstream in tens of years, true to the region's tradition. Alice has made certain interesting traditions in her travels across the mighty Indus, most ...more
Dan Murphy
- just outstanding
- if you want to dig deeper into the geographical, cultural, and religious baggage modern-day Pakistan has to offer, this is the book for you
- reminds me that Pakistan is not a monolith and that what is happening now will most certainly not be what will be happening in the future; there's hope in other words
Patrick Colgan
Mar 01, 2015 Patrick Colgan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Patrick by: Enrico Guala
Shelves: asia, travel
Un libro molto bello, completo, profondo, ma anche leggermente discontinuo, lungo l'Indo e la storia dell'India (ma in gran parte in quello che oggi è Pakistan). Il libro ha un solo limite, sembra a lungo incerto fra il saggio storico (in effetti l'autrice è prima di tutto una studiosa) e il libro di viaggio, del quale non ha il passo e l'attenzione ai dettagli apparentemente poco significativi, né all'introspezione, scegliendo infine questa direzione con decisione solo dopo la metà e diventa la ...more
Avinash
'Empires of the Indus' may be long and short on history, but it positively glows with spirit and empathy. The sections on the Sheedis (Sindhi counterparts of the Ahmedabadi Siddis), and the trek to the source of the Indus, are true gems in this book of stories-strung-like-pearls. Superb.
tea_for_two
This book is so good. SO GOOD! In Empires of the Indus, Alice Albinia travels along the Indus from its delta in the Arabian Sea to the Senge Khabab - the Lion's Mouth - its source in Tibet. As she travels along the river, she also travels back in time and traces the river's history from modern Pakistan to the Stone Age hunters living in Kashmir, Baltistan and Ladakh. The scope of Albinia's travels are impressive - she visits Pakistan, India, Afghanistan and Tibet - and the the breadth of her res ...more
Enrico Guala
Che dire di questo libro..completo,chiaro e incredibilmente approfondito.Per chi ama questa zona geografica,la studia e la vuole approfondire questo è il libro cardine. Alcuni miei viaggi in quest'area sono stati studiati grazie a questo capolavoro
Prasad
Alice Albinia is my new hero. Empires of the Indus is a gripping narrative. If the adventure does not cut it for you, the language would definitely make you fall for her.

Do read it, highly recommended! :)
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Alice Albinia read English Literature at Cambridge University. After graduating, she moved to Delhi, where she worked for the next two a half years as a journalist and editor for the Centre for Science & Environment, Biblio: A Review of Books, Outlook Traveller, and several other Indian newspapers and magazines.

It was during this time, as she travelled around the country writing articles and f
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“Tradition is a fragile thing in a culture built entirely on the memories of the elders.” 11 likes
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