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Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  1,200 ratings  ·  166 reviews
One of the largest rivers in the world, the Indus rises in the Tibetan mountains, flows west across northern India and south through Pakistan. For millennia it has been worshipped as a god; for centuries used as a tool of imperial expansion; today it is the cement of Pakistans fractious union. Five thousand years ago, a string of sophisticated cities grew and traded on its ...more
Hardcover, 366 pages
Published November 1st 2008 by John Murray
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Sharlynie I think due to strict copyright infringements, there is no free reading it online unless you can hack it lol. I think it because its a book that is…moreI think due to strict copyright infringements, there is no free reading it online unless you can hack it lol. I think it because its a book that is used widely for research etc etc. Therefore you need to buy the hardcopy.(less)
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4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,200 ratings  ·  166 reviews

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Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Arun Divakar
Jun 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
Paddy Docherty
Jun 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Ashish Iyer
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ashish by: Sucharita Paul
Amazing book. So many things are there in details. Will love to read it again. This book is more like history and travelogue.
Springing from deep in the earth in the mountains of Tibet, the river Indus, which gave the Indian subcontinent it's name, it's life, it's majority religion and it's primary culture would seem a vast subject for a first book by a young author. Rivaling one of my all-time favorite books, The Black Sea by Neal Ascherson, Alice Albinia deftly weaves together the story of the Indus river in a lively, personally engaging account of her journey from the environmentally threatened delta in today's Paki ...more
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review
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
In this book, the Indus River is travelled in the reverse of its flow, from the delta in Sindh, Pakistan to its source in the mountains of Tibet, travelling throughout Pakistan, (two sidetrips into Afghanistan, although the Indus does not!), India and China. It is an epic and incredible journey, travelling by many means, even walking a large section following the footsteps of Alexander. In Pakistan she spends time in Sindh, Punjab, the northern Tribal lands and Kashmir. Indian Ladakh, and Tibeta ...more
Sep 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Munir Hyder
Mar 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This books takes you on a long deep journey of civilization of the greater Sindhu. its simply owsome. jeay sindh (indus)
Pakistan for dummies

E' il sesto stato del mondo per popolazione, apprendiamo che ci sono passate un po' tutte le civiltà, il paesaggio varia dalle vette himalayane fino alle spiagge di mangrovie; tuttavia tra le mie conoscenze non ne trovo uno che ci sia mai stato.

Che impressione se ne ricava da questo reportage? un disastro demografico, che ha prodotto un disastro economico, che a sua volta ha generato un disastro ambientale, e poi un disastro politico, sociale e interreligioso, con tutti i pre
3.5★ for this incredibly detailed and interesting journey up the length of the Indus and back in time.

I have seen this - upriver and back in time - done before and probably more engagingly in Simon Winchester's book, The River At The Centre Of The World, written 10 years earlier about the Yangtze, but that doesn't diminish my admiration for what this Brit journalist achieved as a 29yo solo, female traveller in a part of the world where you would not expect smooth sailing (pun intended). At time
Feb 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
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 reading Empires 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 th
Nov 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Enrico Guala
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Kishwar Jaffer
Aug 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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!
Manish Kapgate
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel, history
India derives its name form Indus, Hinduism developed around Indus, still most of us in India are blissfully unaware of this great river. This book tells the story of this mighty river, about its origins, the civilizations and cultures that currently flourish around it and also the sad tail of human negligence that might one turn it into a dry bed.
Alice Albinia start her journey from the end point of Indus's meeting point in Arabian Sea to its origin in the Tibean Himalayas. She travels the ru
Usman  Baig
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars. “Empires of Indus” is, with its successful blend of travel and history, as fascinating and fluid of a book one can hope for. I particularly enjoyed the parts about the Indus in Pakistan(naturally) as the author’s perspective, though inevitably laced with her personal prejudices and biases, about the things and phenomenon we take for granted is refreshing due to her not being a native. History has always excited me, specially one which diminishes the human scale of time, and this coupl ...more
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: indic
Lovely writing, somewhere in the middle of a captivating travelogue, almost Peter Hopkirk-esque and history of a land replete with many historical stories. Delivered with nuance and without any pretensions.
Nithin V A
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
A perfect mix of travel from sea to source of the river through Pakistan, Afghanistan , India and Tibet and history from stone age to modern day. Bravery of Alice Albinia to travel through places which are deemed to dangerous due to man and nature by outside world is unbelievable.

Saniya Asif
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm sure this book is great. Just wish I had more time to read it , because it actually meant to be read chapter by chapter, absorbing in all the immense detail it houses !! Will definitely give it another shot.
Shariq Chishti
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of the best travel literature I have read in a long time. Part travelogue part history, this is the story of author`s journey upstream on Indus from Karachi on Arabian sea to its source in Tibet. Like any good travelogue it travels not only in space but also in time.

The author meets interesting people like the Sheedis and the Kalash who are remnant of another time in the region while also touching upon people who once influenced the region or vice versa like the early Buddhists, Alexander,
Ayushi Nayak
Dec 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I had bought this book last year on a whim, read it for a couple of days in a dispassionate manner, and could never complete it. Not even my spirit could tell what I was upto in 2015. But one thing happened for sure and that was a deep understanding of the author's intentions behind this book. It's like her wanderer, discoverer spirit was speaking to mine. And even when I had given this book a back bench in my brain's stadium, I could hardly forget it. And, so as this year I decided on a more or ...more
Grady McCallie
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india
This is a complex, beautiful book by a bright, young-at-the-time writer. Albinia structures this combined history / travel book as a trip up the Indus from its mouth to its headwaters, and through its history from the present back to geological time. She researched the river's history and prepared for her trip for a year before going, and that investment shows: she journeys to truly obscure places, and knows what to look for when she gets there, so the account is rich. Other reviewers have descr ...more
Sudeep Laha
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, travel
It is great to start a new year with such a nice read, I was recommended by a friend. In the start I found it a bit slow and but once I kept on reading, I felt in love with the travel detail of Alice Albinia.

It is a wonderful book if you are minutely interested in travel journals or history. Alice takes a journey right from the mouth of Indus to its very source in Tibet. Her in-satiated appetite for adventure and the never-ending thrill will keep you awed. If possible she would have walked the
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
Patrick Colgan
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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The Readers' Avenue: The books of the month April 2013 3 23 Apr 24, 2013 12:30PM  
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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
“Tradition is a fragile thing in a culture built entirely on the memories of the elders.” 11 likes
“Below me are artillery lines, curved stone walls built in overlapping crescents along the hillside. I wonder what scholars of the future will make of them, the stone circles of our war-torn generation.” 0 likes
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