Wednesday, November 28, 2012

World of Words Wednesday - Part 2 - Silk Journeys and Word Memes


For 3WW (Clench Faint Prod)
The little mouse scurried away, really, really fast
Today was a miracle, but it would not last
‘Oh no! What was that?’ Muscles clenched, it came to a halt,
Totally unprepared for assault
Almost fainted as it heard, yet again, the rattle
‘So soon?’, it thought, this mouse in Seattle!
It held still while Rattle prodded, but only for a moment
And then off it flew, as if in a racing tournament
For today was a miracle, and though it would not last
Rattle would have to find something else to break its fast.

From Wikipedia:

Rattlesnakes lie in wait for their prey, or hunt for it in holes.The prey are killed quickly with a venomous bite as opposed to constricting. If the bitten prey moves away before dying, the rattlesnake can follow it by its scent. When it locates the fallen prey, it checks for signs of life by prodding with its snout, flicking its tongue, and using its sense of smell.


Book Review:
By Joyce Morgan and Conrad Walters
Published by Lyons Press
Hardcover: 336 pages
September 4, 2012; $24.95 US/$27.50 CAN; 9780762782970





Books like this should replace history text books – this makes history oh so interesting. At least, excerpts from books like this should be included in the stuffy history books.

This book follows Aurel Stein on his greatest expedition – his adventurous journey across the famed, ancient, unknown Silk Road – in his quest for the past. Each chapter of this wonderful book relates an adventure, a story further into history, or a peek into the Stein’s future after the momentous discovery of the Diamond Sutra as well as the future of the antiquities he had gathered. The reader gets a clear glimpse of the wonders, the hardships, and the preparation that Stein and his trusted group of assistants must have undergone as part of this epic journey.

The authors’ vast and detailed research is evident in every page of the book. The authors’ introduction of Stein in the first chapters of the book explains his actions and decisions to the reader in the later chapters.  His dedication, determination, strength, his natural ability to work with people considering he was a very private man, as well as his amazing, almost super-human capability to work under any and all strenuous circumstances served him well in his travels. 

Stein worked on tips from locals and trusted his instincts that finally led to the The Caves of a Thousand Buddhas after having crossed the Silk Road with his trusted team of men, and his faithful terrier Dash II. The Silk Road was definitely a road less travelled for the last few centuries and he overcame all the obstacles it threw at him to reach his destination. He recovered a treasure – scrolls, manuscripts, silk paintings, and more – by persuading the Abbott at the temple to part with them. Unknown to him, the treasure included the Diamond Sutra – now considered the world’s oldest printed book. 

The description of his journey to and from the caves, the journey of the treasures he obtained to Britain, the geography of the areas, and the history of the Silk Road and the caves are all fascinating – educational and exciting at the same time! The authors intersperse the book with interesting anecdotes from Stein’s writings and this adds to the book.

The caves themselves are now under the Chinese government after having been literally asleep for centuries and the authors write, “But having awoken, the danger now is that the caves will be loved to death.” The treasures, after long negotiations between the Indian government and Britain, now are displayed in museums in India and Britain. The Diamond Sutra and other manuscripts all remain in Britain. Stein himself, though, is barely recognized today but his work ensured that the Diamond Sutra, which was written to be freely available to all – today – it really is. 

The book delivers generous doses of adventure and history, facts told like fantastic fiction, education and excitement with ease. Even if you have never heard of Stein, the Silk Road, or the Diamond Sutra, or feel no need to know about them, you should go ahead and read this book – you will be drawn in immediately. This is a must-read for everyone.

This is one of the first non-fiction books I have fallen in love with. A big thank you to Leyane Jerejian of FBS Associates for reaching out to me to review this book and providing me a copy of the book. This review of the book is completely my honest opinion after reading it and was in no way influenced by others.

And Aurel Stein turned 150 years old on Nov 26th!

Rating: A+

2 comments:

Love to hear from you! I do read all your comments and do reply whenever I can.. but I will definitely hop on over to visit you...