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Journey to the Heart of China

READING AND TRAVEL GUIDE

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Books for

Enrich your travels with reading! Here's a hand-picked list prepared for your journey in conjunction with the book experts at Longitude.

Essential Reading

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Insight Guide Silk Road

Insight Guide Silk Road

by Insight Guides

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2013
  • PAPER
  • 421 PAGES

From Xi'an across Central Asia to Turkey, Chris Bradley covers the sweep of the Silk Road in this gorgeously illustrated guide in the revitalized Insight series. Second edition. (CAS200, $24.99)

The Forbidden City

The Forbidden City

by Geremie R. Barme | Mary Beard

  • HISTORY
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 288 PAGES

A compact, elegant volume in Harvard's excellent Wonders of the World series, this pocket history illuminates the culture, mystique, architecture and politics of imperial Beijing. Fittingly, the book opens with Mao's symbolic address from the Gate of Heavenly Peace. (CHN468, $16.00)

Life Along the Silk Road

Life Along the Silk Road

by Susan Whitfield

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 2001
  • PAPER
  • 253 PAGES

With insight, scholarship and dramatic flair, Susan Whitfield recounts the lives of ten diverse individuals on the ancient Silk Road, including four tales set in Dunhuang. With a superb 15-page history of Central Asia. (CAS44, $29.95)

China North Map

China North Map

by Nelles

  • MAP

A detailed travel map of North China, at a scale of 1:1,750,000. (CHN40, $13.95)

 
China Adventure Map

China Adventure Map


by National Geographic

  • 2011
  • MAP

A double-sided, full-color map of China, at a useful scale of 1:4,375,000, which shows roads and cities. Printed on tear- and water-resistant paper. (CHN06, $11.95)

Northwest China Map

Northwest China Map


by MapLink

  • 2002
  • MAP

This bird's-eye map takes in the region from Dunhuang west across the Taklamakan to Almaty, Bishkek and the Pamirs. With shaded relief, archaeological sites, roads, tracks and paths, railroads and trade routes. (CHN202, $9.95)

Silk Road Countries Map, Central Asia

Silk Road Countries Map, Central Asia


by Gizi Map

  • 2003
  • MAP

A map covering the Silk Roads and surrounding territories from western China and India across Asia to Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Black Sea at a scale of 1:3,000,000. (CAS100, $14.95)

The Ancient Silk Road, An Illustrated Map

The Ancient Silk Road, An Illustrated Map


by Odyssey Maps

  • 2011
  • MAP

Three large annotated color maps, which include dozens of photographs, expert commentary and illustrated Silk Road sites. (ASA58, $14.95)

Lonely Planet Beijing

Lonely Planet Beijing


by Damian Harper

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2013
  • PAPER
  • 272 PAGES

This practical guide to Beijing features maps, an overview of culture, history and nature, and a good deal of nuts-and-bolts information on excursions, accommodations and sightseeing. There's even a section on the locally spoken dialect of Mandarin. (CHN47, $22.99)

Odyssey Guide The Silk Road, Xi'an to Kashgar

Odyssey Guide The Silk Road, Xi'an to Kashgar


by Judy Bonavia

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 352 PAGES

With photographs, maps, essays and lively sidebars on people, literature, food, religion, nature and customs, this is a terrific guide. (CAS13, $24.95)

Odyssey Guide Xi'an, Shaanxi & the Terracotta Army

Odyssey Guide Xi'an, Shaanxi & the Terracotta Army


by Kevin Bishop

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2009
  • PAPER
  • 336 PAGES

With color photographs, insightful essays on culture and history, site plans and places of interest in and around China's ancient capital. (CHN34, $24.95)

The Silk Roads, A Route and Planning Guide

The Silk Roads, A Route and Planning Guide


by Paul Wilson

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2011
  • PAPER
  • 447 PAGES

A compact, practical guide to the network of ancient trade routes extending from Turkey and the Mideast across Central Asia to China. (CAS21, $24.95)

Empires of the Silk Road

Empires of the Silk Road


by Christopher I. Beckwith

  • HISTORY
  • 2011
  • PAPER
  • 504 PAGES

Beckwith rescues Central Asia from the periphery of world affairs with flair and scholarship, depicting millennia of empires, trade and cultural life on the Silk Road. (CAS171, $16.95)

Essential Tibetan Buddhism

Essential Tibetan Buddhism


by Robert Thurman

  • RELIGION
  • 1996
  • PAPER
  • 317 PAGES

The foremost Western scholar of Tibetan Buddhism, Thurman has chosen well from that tradition's sacred literature and helpfully includes suggested further reading, explanatory notes and a directory of sacred sites. (TBT15, $14.99)

Foreign Devils on the Silk Road

Foreign Devils on the Silk Road


by Peter Hopkirk

  • HISTORY
  • 1984
  • PAPER
  • 252 PAGES

Hopkirk's rousing tale of Sven Hedin and other larger-than-life archaeological raiders of the early 20th century captures the excitement of discovery -- and the glories of the Silk Road. (CAS22, $24.95)

Religions of the Silk Road

Religions of the Silk Road


by Richard C. Foltz

  • RELIGION
  • 2000
  • PAPER
  • 186 PAGES

A scholarly survey of cultural traditions, and especially religions, along the trade routes through China and Central Asia from antiquity to the 15th century. (CAS52, $29.00)

Silk Road: Monks, Warriors & Merchants on the Silk Road

Silk Road: Monks, Warriors & Merchants on the Silk Road


by Luce Boulnois | Helen Loveday

  • HISTORY
  • 2011
  • PAPER
  • 575 PAGES

A history and guide to the Silk Road, organized chronologically and featuring a nice selection of contemporary photographs. (CAS111, $27.95)

The Great Game

The Great Game


by Peter Hopkirk

  • HISTORY
  • 1994
  • PAPER
  • 565 PAGES
  • FAVORITE
  • HARD TO FIND ELSEWHERE

Hopkirk's spellbinding account of the great struggle for European supremacy in Central Asia takes us over the high mountain passes and through the scorching deserts and caravan towns of the Silk Road, capturing the glamour, intrigue, treachery and adventure of the time. (CAS09, $18.00)

The Silk Road, Two Thousand Years in the Heart of Asia

The Silk Road, Two Thousand Years in the Heart of Asia


by Frances Wood

  • CULTURAL PORTRAIT
  • 2004
  • PAPER
  • 270 PAGES

Wood draws on hundreds of archival photographs, manuscripts and paintings from the British Library in telling this lively story of the art, culture and history of diverse trade routes. With chapters on jade and silk, trade during the Han Dynasty, Dunhuang, the Great Game, explorers and the Silk Road today. (ASA36, $30.95)

The Terra Cotta Army, China's First Emperor and the Birth of a Nation

The Terra Cotta Army, China's First Emperor and the Birth of a Nation


by John Man

  • HISTORY
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 304 PAGES

Man recounts the 1974 discovery of the 8,000 terra cotta soldiers and uses the legend, lore and facts associated with Emperor Qin's Tomb to speculate about the mysterious emperor himself. (CHN518, $16.95)

The Terracotta Army of the First Emperor of China

The Terracotta Army of the First Emperor of China


by William Lindesay

  • HISTORY
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 32 PAGES

A beautiful introduction to the extraordinary tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi, First Emperor of China, this concise visual overview features richly colored illustrations and photographs accompanied by detailed captions. (CHN126, $12.95)

Mapping the Silk Road and Beyond

Mapping the Silk Road and Beyond


by Kenneth Nebenzahl

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 2011
  • HARD COVER
  • 176 PAGES

This visually stunning collection of 80 rare illuminated manuscripts, early modern masterpieces and archival maps traces two millennia of exploration across Asia. (CAS113, $29.95)

The Arts of China

The Arts of China


by Michael Sullivan

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 352 PAGES

A lively survey of Chinese visual arts and culture through the ages, thoroughly illustrated and accessible. With a new chapter on the 20th century and beyond, this fifth edition covers bronzes, ceramics, painting and architecture from the Neolithic to now. (CHN16, $41.95)

The Mummies of Urumchi

The Mummies of Urumchi


by Elizabeth Wayland Barber

  • ARCHAEOLOGY
  • 2000
  • PAPER
  • 240 PAGES

A look at the ancient culture of the Silk Road based on the extraordinarily well-preserved Caucasoid mummies unearthed in Urumchi in the Tarim Basin of Central Asia. (CAS34, $24.95)

From Heaven Lake, Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet

From Heaven Lake, Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet


by Vikram Seth

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 1987
  • PAPER
  • 178 PAGES

An unconventional, award-winning travelogue of a 1981 trip to India from China via the Himalayas by the marvelous Indian novelist Vikram Seth. (HML19, $15.00)

Frontiers of Heaven, A Journey to the End of China

Frontiers of Heaven, A Journey to the End of China


by Stanley Stewart

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2006
  • PAPER
  • 232 PAGES

A British journalist with wanderlust and a way with the pen, Stewart recounts his rough journey halfway across Asia from Shanghai to Xinjiang along the Great Wall. A Thomas Cook Travel Book of the Year. (CHN237, $14.95)

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World


by Jack Weatherford

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 2005
  • PAPER
  • 352 PAGES

Weatherford, who has lived and studied in Mongolia, interweaves his own travels and field work on the Central Asian steppes, much of it on horseback, with a lively portrait of Genghis Khan and the world of the medieval Mongols. The Mongols introduced not only mayhem, but also paper, printing, gunpowder, the compass and trousers to their far-flung empire. (CAS106, $15.00)

In Xanadu, A Quest

In Xanadu, A Quest


by William Dalrymple

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 314 PAGES

Back in print! An intrepid traveler and entertaining writer, William Dalrymple deftly observed account takes in the people and places he encounters on a journey from Jerusalem across Central Asia to China along the Silk Road, ending like Marco Polo, at Xanadu, the summer palace of Kubla Khan. (CAS50, $15.95)

News from Tartary

News from Tartary


by Peter Fleming

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 1999
  • PAPER
  • 384 PAGES

Fleming's rousing account of a 3,500-mile jaunt from Peking to Sinkiang and on to India, a classic of imperial British wit and style. (CAS46, $18.95)

Night Train to Turkistan: Modern Adventures Along China's Ancient Silk Road

Night Train to Turkistan: Modern Adventures Along China's Ancient Silk Road


by Stuart Stevens

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 1988
  • PAPER
  • 239 PAGES

An entertaining account of hard travel from Beijing to Kashgar, following the route of Peter Fleming and his classic News from Tartary. (CAS77, $13.00)

Riding the Iron Rooster

Riding the Iron Rooster


by Paul Theroux

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2006
  • PAPER
  • 528 PAGES

A wry account of utterly exhausting, exasperating travels, mostly by rail, throughout China for an entire year. Theroux gets himself to every corner of the huge country and includes memorable passages on his experiences in Mongolia, Xinjiang, Manchuria and Tibet (where his journey ended). (CHN133, $15.95)

Shadow of the Silk Road

Shadow of the Silk Road


by Colin Thubron

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 363 PAGES

Thubron returns to Central Asia in this lyrical, erudite account of a 7,000-mile trek across Asia, visiting archaeological sites, people and cities from Xi'an and Dunhuang to Samarkand, Bukhara, Afghanistan and Iran. (CAS133, $15.99)

The Silk Road Journey with Xuanzang

The Silk Road Journey with Xuanzang


by Sally Wriggins

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2003
  • PAPER
  • 352 PAGES

A nicely illustrated account of an extraordinary, 16-year trek from Xi'an to India by way of Central Asia in search of the origins of Buddhism by Xuan-Zang, the famous 7th-century Chinese monk. (ASA31, $25.00)

To a Mountain in Tibet

To a Mountain in Tibet


by Colin Thubron

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 256 PAGES

The intrepid, soulful Colin Thubron journeys from Nepal to Kailash, the revered mountain, "source of the universe, created from cosmic waters and the mind of Brahma," in his most revealing book yet. A New York Times Notable Book. (TBT134, $15.99)

Red Poppies

Red Poppies


by Alai | Howard Goldblatt | Sylvia Li-Chun Lin

  • LITERATURE
  • 2003
  • PAPER
  • 433 PAGES

This family saga unfolds in the 1930s among the warlords of eastern Tibet. (TBT61, $24.95)

Tibetan Folk Tales

Tibetan Folk Tales


by Fredrick Hyde-Chambers | Audrey Hyde-Chambers

  • LITERATURE
  • 2001
  • PAPER
  • 186 PAGES

This anthology of legends and fables, handed down by generations of storytellers, includes the Tibetan creation myth, Buddhist tales and the famous epic of hero King Gesar of Ling. (TBT59, $21.00)

More Recommendations

Here are some other groups of books that might be of interest

Longitude provides recommended reading for travelers in partnership with the leading tour operators and travel programs for hundreds of destinations worldwide. We've got the classic, new and hard-to-find books and maps to help you get the most out of your adventures.