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In the Empire of Genghis Khan


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About the Author

STANLEY STEWART is a regular contributor to the Sunday Times and the Daily Telegraph. His work has taken him to more than fifty countries, and has won him numerous prestigious awards-including Travel Writer of the Year. He is the author of Old Serpent Nile, an account of his journey to the source of the river; and Frontiers of Heaven, the story of his journey across China, for which he won his first Thomas Cook/Daily Telegraph Travel Book Award.


Stewart, a British journalist and travel writer (Old Serpent Nile), takes a 1,000-mile horseback journey across Mongolia, the homeland of Genghis Khan. The author has a gift for merging history and anecdote and succeeds in engaging the reader throughout this informed narrative. Although their culture is dying out, nomadic Mongolians still live in gers (wood-framed felt tents) that can be quickly dismantled and transported across the Asian steppes as they travel continuously on horseback in search of pasture for their sheep, goats and yaks. Stewart vividly describes the days he spent on horseback with his guides, riding through desolate but breathtaking scenery. During his trip, he enjoyed remarkable hospitality from the nomads, who gave him a place to sleep and fed him mutton and airag (fermented mare's milk). His unusual adventures include a wedding, an encounter with a shaman and a visit to a clan meeting. Stewart blames the brutal introduction of communism into the country for Mongolia's troubles and, unfortunately, demonstrates his contempt for Russia by caricaturing many of the Russians he encountered. But this is the only discordant note in an otherwise excellent travelogue, which received the U.K.'s 2001 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award. Photos. (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Stewart finally fulfilled a childhood desire to experience nomadic Mongol life when he set out on a 1000-mile trek on horseback across Outer Mongolia. Enlisting the services of a sturdy steed and, at separate stages, two guide-translators, he traversed the Gobi desert to Quaraqorum, the ancient capital, and pressed on to Dadal, the birthplace of Genghis Khan. Relishing Mongol customs and culture, he slept in round-tented gurs, drank airag (fermented mare's milk), devoured mutton with his various hosts, and, among other empathetic gestures, partook in a shaman's divinatory ceremony. His observations of social and spiritual detail are supplemented with relevant historical background, and his more memorable encounters are often imbued with affable-if not self-deprecating-humor. Stewart, the only author to have twice received the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award (for both this title and his earlier Frontiers of Heaven), offers an engaging travel memoir. Recommended for most public and academic libraries.-Lonnie Weatherby, McGill Univ. Lib., Montreal Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

"One of the best travel books of the year."--Sunday Times

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