~I remember reading The Great Railway Bazaar (1978) yrs ago, & was fully entertained. When I ran across him riding the trains through out China (1988), I had my doubts it would be worthy of his original trans continental Euro, Middle East, Asia, Russia loop trip. He proved me wrong. So many misconceptions I had about China & it’s now 1.4 billion people. Written 10 yrs after the failure of Chairman Mao Zedung’s Cultural Revolution, author travels amongst the people & surprisingly obtains true, open opinions by it’s citizens, as well as their personalities & ways of life. Being somewhat of a celebrity, @ times he dines with a few upper authorities & highly educated Chinese. Yet, he prefers the roads less traveled, & absorbes the culture of every end of China. At the time, China had the desire to increase tourism & trade. (I’d say they’ve succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.) Little was my knowledge before reading, there is a great deal of historical data interwoven throughout this writing. Also a convenient 2nd pg reference map, @ times I’d follow up with google maps just for fun, I really enjoyed the extreme variations of climate, landscape & how vast China really is. Since written, many of the railways have been extended, such as the Qingzang train from Golmud to Lhasa,Tibet. Suggest SPL’s “Wild China” dvd before or after reading. PAUL THEROUX was also the author of The Mosquito Coast, later starring Harrison Ford in its adaptation for the screen, he’s written extensively on intercontinental rail travel. Wanna get away? Great reads awaiting, all aboard?