The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze & Back in Chinese Time

The River at the Center of the World A Journey Up the Yangtze Back in Chinese Time Rising in the mountains of the Tibetan border the Yangtze River the symbolic heart of China pierces miles of rugged country before debouching into the oily swells of the East China Sea Connect

  • Title: The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze & Back in Chinese Time
  • Author: Simon Winchester
  • ISBN: 9780312423377
  • Page: 363
  • Format: Paperback
  • Rising in the mountains of the Tibetan border, the Yangtze River, the symbolic heart of China pierces 3,900 miles of rugged country before debouching into the oily swells of the East China Sea Connecting China s heartland cities with the volatile coastal giant, Shanghai, it has also historically connected China to the outside world through its nearly one thousand miles ofRising in the mountains of the Tibetan border, the Yangtze River, the symbolic heart of China pierces 3,900 miles of rugged country before debouching into the oily swells of the East China Sea Connecting China s heartland cities with the volatile coastal giant, Shanghai, it has also historically connected China to the outside world through its nearly one thousand 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 along with him as he encounters the essence of China its history and politics, its geography and climate as well as engage in its culture, and its people in remote and almost inaccessible places This is travel writing at its best lively, informative, and thoroughly enchanting.

    One thought on “The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze & Back in Chinese Time”

    1. At over 3900 miles long the Yangtze is the river that divides China. South of the river is the rice growing part of China, and north of it wheat is grown. But this divide also brings together the nation, as it supports millions of people livelihoods, and hold the keys to some of China's earliest archaeology and history.Starting at the mouth of the river in the city of Shanghai, Winchester, and his companion Lily, travel through a series of landscapes that are stark, polluted, varied and at times [...]

    2. I’m not always a fan of Winchester’s style, but this book remains my favorite in his extensive bibliography. Drawn to the beauty of Ten thousand li, a stunning 53 foot scroll by Wang Hui, Winchester decides to delve deeper into the massive Yangtze for his next book. He works his way along the length of the river in reverse, from its mouth at the South China Sea to the looming plateaus of Tibet where the river begins. The history and geography of the Yangtze unfolds beautifully, punctuated wi [...]

    3. Inspired by Ten Thousand Li up the Yangzi River by Wang Hui, a 53 foot long scroll painting, Winchester decides to travel from mouth to source of the Yangtze River, a journey of some 3900 miles.The trip was undertaken mid 90's which is relevant for the water levels and accessibility of the river, as the Three gorges Dam was partly constructed, but at this point only quite low.Well written, and kept at an enjoyable pace, the intent was the further up the river he travelled, the further back in hi [...]

    4. Fabulous, fascinating once of the most in-depth, intriguing travelogues I have read. If one day someone asks me if I've traveled the Yangtze, and I accidentally answer, "oh yes," well, this book is the cause.

    5. This was a disappointing book. Like the tributaries of the Yangtze, multiple disciplines feed into the narrative: geography, geology, sociology, politics, commerce and history. Winchester admits at the outset that he had difficulty finding a unifying theme for his ungainly collection of material. Like the irregular rapids and currents, my interest was engaged only intermittently. Winchester's journey begins in Shanghai where the Yangtze empties into the East China Sea. His goal is to sail upstre [...]

    6. viaggio nella storiail racconto è interessanteogni tappa indica un passo indietro nel tempo, lungo la risalita del fiume che, simbolicamente rappresenta la macchina del tempo della Cinai villaggi e le città sono i segnalibri del racconto, la storia è l'unica protagonista, mentre chi la racconta non può fare a meno di spiccare per la pochezza delle sue riflessioni e per la rigidità, tipicamente inglese, di chi si sentirà sempre al centro del mondo e non riesce a vedere al di là del suo nas [...]

    7. Simon Winchester is one of my favorite authors, especially his geological themed ones (Krakatoa, The Map that Changed the World, and Crack in the Edge of the World) since I'm a geologist myself. This travelogue up the entire Yangtze river is different from his other books that I've read as it is much more personal. It is not only about the Yangtze and the history but about the peoples and the cultures that he encounters along the river. The history that he covers is much more recent and somethin [...]

    8. For someone who lived in Hong Kong for years, speaks Mandarin and wrote this 400 page tome about his voyage up the length of the Yangtze, author Simon Winchester doesn't like China very much. He sees Shanghai as a crassly commercial "whorehouse", Wuhan as too polluted, Chongqing as ugly and most of the villages he encounters, squalid. Yet he excoriates an Italian expatriate living in central China who, like him, seems to hate the place. Only the pastoral town of Lijiang, near the end of the book [...]

    9. Long a fan of Winchester's work, I enjoyed this book. A mix of history, geography and river lore, this trip up the Yangtze River fascinated me. Winchester has an wonderful sense of curiosity and this led him into all sorts of places along the river. Accompanied by a Chinese travel guide, Lily, who fiercely defended his rights to travel on and by the river, they journey its 3,900 mile length. The Yangtze has a profound impact on the geography of China and Winchester describes this brilliantly, al [...]

    10. Highly suggested reading before venturing to interior China and Shanghai. The book does a stellar description of the hydrology and forces of the Yangtze Basin, especially in light of recent earthquakes. In comparison to the "Map that Changed the World," Winchester does a poor job of defining the geological history of the Yangtze transect, but then again this is not a geology text.

    11. A fascinating look at China. I enjoyed learning about the history of all the towns and cities along the Yangtze, and also about the three gorges dam. Should be read by anyone even remotely interested in China, as the author has great insight in to this amazing country.

    12. Had trouble tracking down somewhere to leave a review for The Surgeon of Crawthorne. As a person curious of the roots of where words came from- I LOVED this novel recommended for avid follower of words, a dictionary thriller based on some facts- what gets better than this?

    13. Very enjoyable. A brief fly-over history of China from modern day backwards in time. As the author travels up the Yangtze river from the South China Sea (hopefully to the source) he offers a history lesson based on the area he is visiting. The further up-river he goes, the further back in time.

    14. Really detailed history of China as related to the Yangtze River. Written just before the Three Gorges Dams were finished.

    15. Terrific book - his travel writing is quite funny, in a dry British way, and the history is well-presented, with only a few patches to skim through.

    16. 3.5 StarsInspired by the seminal Ten thousand li scroll by Weng Hui, Winchester brings us the tale of the Yangzte through the ages - and how the river has shaped the fate of this great, ancient civilization. At the outset, you know this is an ambitious project covering a mind boggling amount of themes. For the most part, given his almost cinematic narrative style, Mr. Winchester acquits himself with flying colours. Some geographers and writers like to think of the river as a sort of waistline, a [...]

    17. This book is the 2004 update to the narrative of a monumental trip the author took in 1995. Traveling from the mouth of the Yangtze to its headwaters with a native guide (never giving her real name in order to protect her from govermental targeting), he weaves in history, culture, politics, geology, navigation, environmental science, and more. He tells a compelling tale of China's determined march to world dominance since their escape from repeated invasions and exploitation/colonization by fore [...]

    18. Like a diary, the book dragged on with unnecessary details and pointless sentiments. For example, the author seemed obsessed with the inconsequential idea of what if there was no Yun Ling, or Cloud Mountains, to induce a dramatic turn of Yangtze at Shigu. Not sure why this “what if” is even remotely interesting, geologically or culturally, as countless what ifs along the Yangtze could be entertained if one wanted.

    19. Simon Winchester never disappoints. Of course he travelled the length of the Yangtze before writing this book. Of course he had adventures and misadventures. Of course he also researched it well and inserts cogent, relevant little stories.In preparation for our Viking trip on the Yangtze, this was the definitive book to read. For adventurers everywhere!

    20. Interesting book that provided a lot of high-level Chinese history while it described the author's journey up the Yangtze River. I also learned some cool words like 'entrepôt' , 'scrofulous' and 'phlegmatic'. Inexcusable, however, for a travel-related book to contain no photographs.

    21. Interesting travel/history book concerning Chinese and Tibetan life along the pre-1990 Yangtze River. Of course much has changed since the building of the Three Gorges Dam and the return of Hong Kong to the Chinese. Winchester's 4000 Mile (one way) is an epic adventure for sure .

    22. This is an epic story of a huge, wild river. It takes us from the Woosung Bar up to Tibet and Lhasa and finally within spitting distance of the 2 possible sources if the Yangtze river.I enjoyed the history, as told from the British perspective set in the Chinese background.The river and passing cities and towns are described in a way that I feel I have been there. Always, we feel the presence of this river and the people living around it

    23. 1996.LOTS of interesting stuff in this book, though I find Winchester quite irritating at times, as a person.Inevitably, this is a string of fairly random experiences.Some fascinating insights into how he related to his CHinese young woman guide; her opinions and reactions to things are of great interest to me.Reading this book and studying the little map in each chapter were a good learning experience, helping me get a grip the geographical reality of where the Yangtze [Chang Jiang in its lower [...]

    24. There need to be more people like Mr. Winchester who are willing to pursue an impossible goal with dogged determination, through mishaps and mistakes, sometimes altered plans, and somehow maintaining health, until not only reaching the goal but beautifully recording the tale. For the rest of us mortals, these writer explorers prove that humanity still has potential to learn and inspire.As for the tale told here, some doubts about that same humanity still creep in. With an evenness of acceptance, [...]

    25. The story on how this book set its paper sails to me is a chain of coincidences flowing through space and time. And different people. And different countries. Not to mention languages. The very first ring of this chain seems quite easy to be found. As a matter of fact, the actual navigation began by the river Thames on a Saturday morning in November 2011. This embarkation point was strategically located in the same Oxfordshire and by the same river Simon Winchester refers to a few times while ta [...]

    26. My dad brought this along on our trip to Beijing and Chengde and I got hooked after reading the first chapter. While I enjoyed the dry humor (very British) and found that there was a great deal of interesting information about the China at the turn the 20th century, the overall tone of the book seemed rather pessimistic and, considering the comparisons to the 'romantic' colonial era, more than a little biased. In parts Winchester reminded me of Peter Hessler -- funny, erudite prose on modern Chi [...]

    27. Absolutely delightful and informative. Can't get better that that.Winchester, a Brit and an old China hand (and also fluent in - apparently - Mandarin) is shown an old family heirloom, the Ten thousand li Yangtze, a lengthy scroll supposedly depicting the entire length of the Yangtze River. From this, he concocts his mission of following the great Yangtze (or Yellow) River from sea to its source in farthest Tibet.In 1990s China, however, he cannot travel alone, so enter the indomitable Lily: tal [...]

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