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Christoph Baumer - a leading explorer and historian of Central Asia, Tibet and China - has written several well-received books in the fields of history, religion, archaeology and travel. These include The Church of the East: An Illustrated History of Assyrian Christianity (2006), Traces in the Desert: Journeys of Discovery across Central Asia (2008) and China's Holy Mountain: An Illustrated Journey into the Heart of Buddhism (2011), all published by I.B.Tauris. Dr Baumer is President of the Society for the Exploration of EurAsia and a member of the Explorer's Club, New York, and the Royal Asiatic Society and the Royal Geographical Society, London.
'This, in my judgment, is a most impressive book. Dr Baumer has a wide-ranging knowledge of his subject, an extensive on-the-ground acquaintance with Central Asia itself, and an ability to convey that knowledge in a most interesting and comprehensible way. He has a gift for the striking observation. For example, he remarks on a curious parallel between a Central Asian story about a hero's sword having to be thrown into the sea and the rather similar tale about Excalibur, commenting that this is perhaps not merely coincidence: might it have something to do with the Sarmatian soldiers sent by Marcus Aurelius to guard Hadrian's Wall? Another excellent idea is the periodic insertion of "excursuses", on such topics as Roy Chapman Andrews the "dinosaur hunter", the Siberian collections of Peter the Great, and the Amazons. No history of Central Asia, or indeed of anywhere else, can ultimately claim to be "complete". But this one is certainly very comprehensive indeed, far more so than any other recent work of which I am aware. The publication of this volume, and of its successors too, seems to me to be a very valuable enterprise indeed.' - David Morgan, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and author of The Mongols.