Behind the Wall

A Journey through China
Colin Thubron
Introduced by Frank Dikötter

A vivid portrait of a post-Mao China, from one of the great travel writers.

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.

‘This transcendentally gifted writer is, of course, one of the two or three best living travel writers’

  1. Jan Morris 

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.

Quarter-bound in blocked buckram with printed paper sides

Set in Adobe Garamond

376 pages

Frontispiece and 24 pages of colour plates, 1 integrated map

9½˝ x 6¾˝

Please note this edition features a lightweight slipcase printed with the binding design

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