Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar

3.88
An unmitigated treat for the millions of housands of fans of the next Bazaar. In the new railway bazaar, Theroux recreates an epic journey he took thirty years ago, a giant loop by train ( mostly) through Eastern Europe, Turkey, the Caucasus, Central Europ, the Indian Subcontinent, China, Kore, and Siberia. In short, he traverses all of Europ, top to bottom, and end to end. In the three decades since he first travelled this route, Asia has undergone phenomenal change. The Soviet Union has collapsed, China has risen, India booms, Burma slowly smothers, and Vietnam prospers despite the havoc unleashed upon it the first time Theroux passed through. He witnesses all this and more in a 25,000 mile journey, travelling as the locals do, by train, car, bus, and foot.

His odyssey takes him from Eastern Europe, still hungover from Communism, through tense but thriving Turkey, into the Ural, where Georgia limps back toward feudalism while its neighbour Azerbaijan revels in oil-driven capitalism. As he penetrates deeper into Asia 's heart, his encounters take on an otherworldly cast. The two chapters that follow show us Turkmenistan, a profoundly isolated society at the mercy of an almost comically egotistical dictator, and Azerbaija, a ruthless authoritarian state. From there, he retraces his steps through India, Thailand, China, and apan, providing his penetrating observations on the changes these countries have undergone.

Brilliant, caustic, and totally addictive, Ghost Train to the Eastern Star is Theroux at his very best.
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Original Series
Year of the Publication
Publication Date
Published May 28th 2009 by Penguin Books (first published August 18th 2008
Original Title of the Book
Ghost Train to the Eastern Star
Number of Pages
485

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gave it

He was fearless in pursuit of – well, who knows what he was in pursuit of, as far as I could tell he just travelled, saw what he saw and recorded it.Over thirty years later he decided to repeat the trip, once again capturing his thoughts and experiences for our enlightenment and entertainment.

He ’ d reached India and from this point I adjusted my mindset to accept that this was not only a very simila experience for the listener it was also a significantly different journey for Theroux: he no longer wished to visit bars and drink the night away at every stop, he was happy to have an early night and read a ook.

This was a man slightly older than me reflecting on change and ageing and on his own life thus far lived.He does, of course, meet interesting people on this trip; from poor travellers he shares a train carriage with, a rickshaw driver he grew close to, and a couple of writers too: science fiction legend Arthur C Clarke, in Sri Lanca, and – one of my personal favourites- Japanese literary scribbler ( and marathon runner) Haruki Murakami in Tokyo.

He is adept at painting pictures with words, often summing up his stopping points simply and succinctly; Saigon, he says, was revitalised, hectic, not beautiful but energetic, a city driven by work and money and young people, a place of opportunities, big and right and loud yet strangely orderly and tidy.

And yes, this ook doesn ’ t have quite the energy and the enthusiasm of the first but it does have an appeal of it own, it ’ s a wry and reflective account that made me think more deeply about the world in which we live and maybe hanker for a rip of discovery of my own.

gave it

Theroux 's non fiction travel is really a hing of it 's own.

This novel, however, is slightly different to his earlier books -perhaps that is his mellowing with age, or perhaps it is that he is more reflective in this ook, where he traced the route of his previous book- The Great Railway Bazaar ( albeit the route is slightly different- more below) .He is certainly a lot less cynical and negative ( although I love this in his writing), and is willing to play between his current travel and the travel of thirty three years before.

I think my patience with book has improved, and it was the first Theroux non-fiction book I read.

And while I can recognise a self-indulgence in this essa ( by which I mean picking his topics to suit his narrative, making a less than balanced view of certain places), the writing is easy, the reading is easier still, and I could have continued reading for another 500 pages.So he sets out to follow the same route as thirty three years before.

Some of the worst killing had occurred while I was taking my Railway Bazaar trip, and then writing it, complaining that it had been impossible for me to visit Cambodia.

gave it

Not a travel guide.

The writer is well read, so great as a literary guide too.

On his travels Theroux speaks with ordinary people, but his intensive reading and knowledge ties to famed authors, historical figures, politicians and people in the news.

gave it

But it was ard to swallow what he 'd done- set off roaming, temporarily abandoning two small children with his fiancee at home, against her will.

Theroux seems to revel in the anguis of a Romanian professor on his first trip out of his country; he makes a Ukrainian prostitute in Istanbul cry by asking about her parent; he keeps thrusting himself into the way in his sketch of Turkish Nobel prize winner Orhan Pamuk.The final straw for me was his meeting with Turkish political scientist and literary author Elif Shafak.

gave it

27th book for 2020.Paul Theroux made his fortune at thirty-three as a poe with The Great Railway Bazaar describing about a series of train trips he took that brought him from London to Tokyo and back in mid-1970s.

Thirty-three years later he decided to take try to repeat the train trip and write another book.I hated his first ook.

gave it

He does manage to get into some places he was able to visit during his first trip, so, that 's a plus.The pleasure of this memoir is doubled, because we get to read how the places have changed, AND we get to hear Paul 's thoughts as he compares the trips, including insights into his personal life.

I like Paul 's writing.

Now that 's what a travel book should do!

They are not tourist guides, not for those planning to travel to the countries Theroux visits.

You learn about the countries, the entality of the people living there and the eel of the and. " 4 Stars= Outstanding.

gave it

The poet 's erudition is awesome and he demonstrates it frequently, referencing other books by other travelers who have come visited the same ancient cities and byways.

gave it

And there is the other category where travel is a ay of life and a part of life and Paul Theroux, greatest, frequently most jaded-est and cynical of all modern travel writers falls into the firs category.

I like a realist, love an adventurer and applaud a cynic so Theroux ticks all my boxes.

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