TIRED OF DRAB Maoist China, having worked for the Chinese News Agency in Beijing, Bordewich set out in search of the old China of tradition, artistic fulfillment and religious contemplation, the Cathay that the Communists have attempted to stamp out. He retraced historic caravan routes, spent a night on a sacred mountain and visited the glacier-capped Hunza valley whose residents are said to live to age 125 or longer. In Qufu, birthplace of Confucius, he sensed a dim connection with ancient ways across the span of centuries. In Beijing (writing before the Tiananmen Square massacre), he perceived a city waking from a long sleep, trying to get new bearings. He also penetrated "that hidden courtyard of the self where every Chinese lives his real life." Bordewich avoids the twin pitfalls of nostalgia and glorification of an ancient China where women's feet were bound. First in a new series of travel books edited by Jan Morris, this delightful, surprising, compulsively readable adventure lifts a veil from a China most observers thought was irretrievably lost.
"Fergus Bordewich...has emerged from his adventures with an account of today's Middle Kingdom that is refreshing and honest."—Simon Winchester