The River at the Center of the World

The River at the Center of the World

A Journey up the Yangtze, and Back in Chinese Time

Book - 2009 | New ed. --
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Rising from the mountains of the Tibetan border, the river that is the symbolic heart of China courses through 3,900 miles of rugged country before emerging into the oily swells of the East China Sea. Connecting China's heartland cities with the volatile coastal giant, Shanghai, the Yangtze has throughout history also linked China to the outside world through its nearly 1,000 miles of navigable waters. To travel those waters is to travel back in history, to sense the soul of China, and Simon Winchester takes us with him as he encounters the essence of the nation--its history and politics, its geography and climate.


He engages with the country's culture and its people in remote and almost inaccessible places. Winchester recalls his passionate exploration of the countryside-- employing nearly every mode of transportation, including boat, train, jeep and shoe leather--while providing important and engaging historical information. This is travel writing at its best: lively, informative and thoroughly enchanting.

Publisher: Toronto : HarperPerennial, 2009, c2004.
Edition: New ed. --
ISBN: 9781554684816
Branch Call Number: 915.120459 Win 2009 9254ag 1
915.120459 Win 2009 9254tc 1
Characteristics: xviii, 414 p. : maps.


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Dec 04, 2018

First a caveat:since this book was last published in 2004, much of what the author has to say of the Three Gorges Dam is already out of date. A little research on the readers part will quickly show just how much so is the case. It makes you wonder what else has changed and how quickly, Lhasa in Tibet, for example, is now more accessible than ever: high speed trans which you there from Beijing in a couple of days.

Truly, the Yangtze River counts among the greatest rivers of the world. There are but a few, the Nile, the Amazon, and the Ganges come to mind that compete with the Yangtze for such honour. And only a few rivers can match the importance of the nations, not to mention the civilizations which have thrived along its banks.
Truly the Yangtze is the river at the center of the world and author Simon Winchester is not one fearful of tackling such a immense topic as one of the world’s major rivers.
When Winchester sits down to write he does so after having thoroughly researched his subject. Never one to write at second hand he first reconnoitres his subject. His is not the cruise ship approach rather it is the down to earth travel those who live along the banks of the rivermight undertake if they were brave enough.
Winchester brings an elegance and insight to his work: by the time you finish this book you will feel as though you too had been on this seminal voyage up the Yangtze River.
Like all of Winchester’s books, this one is to be highly recommended.
Read on, intrepid explorer.

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