The Road to Oxiana
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In 1933, the delightfully eccentric travel writer Robert Byron set out on a journey through the Middle East via Beirut, Jerusalem, Baghdad and Teheran to Oxiana, near the border between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union. Throughout, he kept a thoroughly captivating record of his encounters, discoveries, and frequent misadventures. His story would become a best-selling travel book throughout the English-speaking world, until the acclaim died down and it was gradually forgotten. When Paul Fussell published his own book Abroad, in 1982, he wrote that The Road to Oxiana is to the travel book what "Ulysses is to the novel between the wars, and what The Waste Land is to poetry." His statements revived the public's interest in the book, and for the first time, it was widely available in American bookstores. Now this long-overdue reprint will introduce it to a whole new generation of readers. This edition features a new introduction by Rory Stewart, best known for his book The Places In Between, about his extensive travels in Afghanistan.
Today, in addition to its entertainment value, The Road to Oxiana also serves as a rare account of the architectural treasures of a region now inaccessible to most Western travelers, and a nostalgic look back at a more innocent time.
histrionic. The rifles may not go off. The physique is not so impressive in the close-fitting uniform of the soldiers. Even the glare of the eyes is often due to makeup. But it is a tradition; in a country where the law runs uncertainly, the mere appearance of force is half the battle of ordinary business. It may be an inconvenient tradition, from the point of view of government. But at least it has preserved the people’s poise and their belief in themselves. They expect the European to conform
nearly missed it. A wide macadam road runs due east up the valley of the Hari river, on its way over the mountains to Bamian—though it has yet to arrive there. Thirteen miles down this, at the village of Pala Piri, we turned up a narrow track to the north. “Ra Turkestan, Ra Turkestan”, cried the passengers in chorus. The road to Turkestan! It sounded too good to be true. The next twenty miles involved repeated crossings of a river in a ravine, whose gradients, or rather the absence of them,
vin rosé, which induces a delicious well-being. If the vineyards had names, and the makers corks, enabling different wines to be distinguished and stored, Shiraz might produce real vintages. But Persians, broad as their views on religion are, drink mainly for the sin of it and care little for the taste. While if foreigners introduce these improvements, they will inevitably try to imitate their own brands, as the Germans have done at Tabriz. Second-rate hock is drinkable, but not interesting; I
He has influence with my supporters in America, and in order to get rrrrid of him I have presented my whole collection of photographs to the University of Chicago. I have had to write as many as twelve letters on the subject of this man. R. B.: I quite see that if other people sell pictures of your discoveries, they are stealing money from the excavation fund. But listen to my point of view. I’m not an archaeologist. I’ve no concern with your discoveries. All I’m interested in here is the
before 1394 when their son Ulugh Beg was born. It was a successful marriage, according to the ballads of Herat, which sing of Shah Rukh’s love for her. But little is known of their first forty years together, except what concerns her buildings. She founded the Mosque at Meshed, for instance, in 1405, and took Shah Rukh to see it in August 1419, when he praised the patterns and workmanship and dedicated a gold lamp to the tomb of the saint. It is only later she comes to the front of the stage,