Harry Halen (Editor): Gustaf Mannerheim: Diary Performed during my trip to Central Asia and China 1906-07-08. Helsinki: Society of Swedish Literature in Finland & Atlantis, 2010.
To date, the travel diaries, which the Tsarist officer Mannerheim took during his more than two year-long visit to Central Asia and China, have been released only in abbreviated form. The photographs have been published twice separately.
The entire diary, which is now published in three parts, totals almost 1200 pages and goes beyond the diary entries to include other more personal notes, drawings, sinologist terminology and details of the equipment needed for the trip. About 170 of Mannerheim’s 1,000 photographs have also been published. Many of these have not previously been available in print.
As a connoisseur of languages and cultures in Central Asia, Harry Halén masters the content throughout. He has also modernized the diaries and place names so that they comply with modern spellings.
The travelogue presents Mannerheim’s multifaceted mission in Asia. He served as the Russian expatriate cartographer, made anthropological observations and collected items for Finland. The notes reveal the true character of the journey. His spy mission was masked as a scientific expedition. The purpose was to serve Imperial Russia’s expansion efforts in China’s direction.
In the diary entries, the real man appears which are better than the memoirs which were written decades later by the great man and field marshal.
The technically brilliant photographs convey the journey efforts, but also the fascination and genuine interest of the people you met during your journey.