“[Tamm's] prose and dry wit, which earned him the 2011 Ottawa Book Award for Non-fiction, sustains readers masterfully through a grand scope of nearly 500 pages,” writers human rights activist Amy Reger in a book review in the Asian Sentinel.
Stefan Geens, the blogger behind Ogle Earth, provides a guest blog including photos of Kashgar’s demolition and a Google Earth map of old and new Kashgar.
In an eerie way, Kashgar reminds me of Paris. While researching my book, I visited the Uyghur oasis in China’s western region of Xinjiang and saw it undergoing a massive demolition. The reason: Chinese officials say the town’s old neighbourhoods are unsafe and vulnerable to earthquakes. The solution: raze the ancient quarter and reconstruct a new city.
Kashgar: Mission Impossible A day or two from Irkeshtam Pass, Gustaf Mannerheim separated from Paul Pelliot, the legendary French sinologist with whom he was travelling from Osh. The two men did not get along, and a power struggle ensued about who was in charge of the expedition. However, they both stayed at the Russian consulate [...]
To Khotan: Oases and Outposts On October 6, 1906, Gustaf Mannerheim left Kashgar for a return expedition to Khotan, about 500 kilometres away on the southern fringe of the Taklimakan Desert. His mission was to investigate rumours of Japanese and British military officers doing secret reconnaissance in the region. It was a monotonous, grueling trek [...]
Tian Shan Range: The Horse that Leaps Through Clouds From Kashgar, Gustaf Mannerheim ventured northward to the foothills of the Tian Shan range. The Chief of the Russian General Staff had instructed him to conduct reconnaissance of the alpine passes and ethnic groups living in the shadow of the Tian Shan range. He left Kashgar [...]
Urumqi: The Banquet Gustaf Mannerheim rested for a month in Urumqi in the summer of 1907. He stayed at the Russian consulate in the south of the city, and visited with local mandarins and Duke Lan, the exiled Manchu nobleman who helped to instigate the anti-foreign uprising and attack on the Peking Legations in 1900. [...]
From Urumqi, Gustaf Mannerheim travelled over the Bogda Shan range to the ancient ruined cities scattered in the Turpan Depression. He spent time collecting manuscript fragments and other ancient scraps at the ruins of Jiaohe and Gaocheng, and visited the Buddhist caves at Bezeklik in the Flaming Mountains and in a gorge behind the Uyghur village of Toyuk. He then continued on to the eastern part of Xinjiang, visiting Barkol and Hami before crossing the border into Gansu Province. In Gansu, his first significant stop was Dunhuang, an ancient crossroads on the Silk Road.