The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze, and Back in Chinese Time
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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 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. The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze, and Back in Chinese Time is travel writing at its best: lively, informative, and thoroughly enchanting.
Nakhi pictographs, completing the work in 1972. They remain as Joseph Rock’s memorial—his books, his remarkable photographs—and three species of flowers: Rhododendron rockii, Primula rockii and Omphalogramma rockii. Considering that this son of a dreary Viennese manservant never took a degree in botany, or in anything else, and that he achieved all he did by an unquenchable combination of courage and bare-faced cheek, the flower memorials seem touchingly appropriate. * * * Although he was
what it represented—mercantile confidence, colonial swagger, a certain rigorous high-mindedness—and in part because of who designed the building: Clough Williams-Ellis, one of Britain’s more eccentric architects, and a man I had known a little. In the remote corner of north Wales where he lived, he cut a striking figure, not least by wearing plus fours with canary yellow socks and a cravat. His wife was a Strachey—his own bohemian air may have been half derived from his association with
scolded a woman guard, harshly. That was always the way: Let the Soldiers Pass First, said a notice board. They Make Great Sacrifices for Our Nation. 6 Rising Waters The last traces of the evening sun were glimmering from behind the purple clouds of factory smoke as the Jiang Han 18 edged gingerly out into the swollen stream. A long freight train rumbled over the bridge behind, its wagons heaped high with coal for plants and smelters on the north bank. The ferry from Pukou, its lower decks
now ripped asunder. The Yangtze treaty ports—Jiujiang down below me here, and Hankou just a day’s sailing upstream—continued to be important bases for tea sales only for another few years. By the time the Suez Canal was opened to traffic in 1869, it made sound commercial sense for Europe to buy all its teas from India. They were cheaper, of better quality, and they were rushed to the London markets with dispatch. From henceforth what was called in the drawing room “China tea” was to be a product
from which the foreign hongs, the trading houses, had once operated, but they could hardly rival their sister structures back in Shanghai. It had been a very short bund, and the foreigners had been crammed into it in small parcels. The British had the biggest sector, closest to the government offices, because they had been the first outsiders allowed here, courtesy of their triumph in what has been called the Second Opium War. But even this spoil of battle had been a fairly mean allotment of