Thursday, October 4, 2012

Journeys on the Silk Road: A Desert Explorer, Buddha's Secret Library, and the Unearthing of the World's Oldest Printed Book by Joyce Morgan & Conrad Walters

When a Chinese monk broke into a hidden cave in 1900, he uncovered one of the world’s great literary secrets: a time capsule from the ancient Silk Road. Inside, scrolls were piled from floor to ceiling, undisturbed for a thousand years. The gem within was the Diamond Sutra of AD 868. This key Buddhist teaching, made 500 years before Gutenberg inked his press, is the world’s oldest printed book.

The Silk Road once linked China with the Mediterranean. It conveyed merchants, pilgrims and ideas. But its cultures and oases were swallowed by shifting sands. Central to the Silk Road’s rediscovery was a man named Aurel Stein, a Hungarian-born scholar and archaeologist employed by the British service.

Undaunted by the vast Gobi Desert, Stein crossed thousands of desolate miles with his fox terrier Dash. Stein met the Chinese monk and secured the Diamond Sutra and much more. The scroll’s journey—by camel through arid desert, by boat to London’s curious scholars, by train to evade the bombs of World War II—merges an explorer’s adventures, political intrigue, and continued controversy.

The Diamond Sutra has inspired Jack Kerouac and the Dalai Lama. Its journey has coincided with the growing appeal of Buddhism in the West. As the Gutenberg Age cedes to the Google Age, the survival of the Silk Road’s greatest treasure is testament to the endurance of the written word.

I have to admit, I had never heard of the Diamond Sutra until I picked up Journeys on the Silk Road.  To be honest, it kind of reminded me a bit of Dan Brown's writing and the Indiana Jones movies.  It had that adventurous feel, as well as, the intrigue of discovering an important piece of history.

Morgan and Walters have definitely done their research -the details in this book are astounding and will keep you thoroughly absorbed.  It did get a bit dry, in certain parts, but it was all relevant to the tale.  I know I feel a lot smarter since I read this book! High in intrigue, adventure, scholarly findings, with a character that traverses among many continents, the historical facts alone are astounding.  Highly recommend!

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

1 comment:

The old grey donkey, Eeyore stood by himself in a thistly corner of the Forest, his front feet well apart, his head on one side, and thought about things. Sometimes he thought sadly to himself, "Why?" and sometimes he thought, "Wherefore?" and sometimes he thought, "Inasmuch as which?" and sometimes he didn't quite know what he was thinking about.

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