A remarkable journey down the Amur River, revealing the history and culture of a region that is once again becoming one of the world's most contested regions
Black Dragon River is a personal journey down one of Asia's great rivers. The world's ninth largest river, the Amur serves as a large part of the border between Russia and China. As a crossroads for the great empires of Asia, this area offers journalist Dominic Ziegler a lens with which to examine the societies at Europe's only borderland with East Asia. He follows a journey from the river's top to bottom and weaves the history, ecology, and peoples to show a region obsessed with the past - and to show how this region holds a key to the complex and critical relationship between Russia and China today.
The Amur crosses terrain legendarily difficult to cross. Near the river's source, Ziegler travels on horseback from the Mongolian steppe into the taiga, and later he is forced by the river's impassability to take the Trans-Siberian Railway through the 400-mile valley of water meadows inland. As he voyages deeper into the Amur wilderness, Ziegler also journeys into the history of the peoples and cultures the river's path has transformed.
The known history of the river begins with Genghis Khan and the rise of the Mongolian empire a millennium ago, and the story of the region has been one of aggression and conquest ever since. The modern history of the river is the story of Russia's push across the Eurasian landmass to China. For China, the Amur is a symbol of national humiliation and Western imperial land seizure; to Russia it is a symbol of national regeneration, its New World dreams and Eastern prospects. The quest to take the Amur was to be Russia's route to greatness, replacing an oppressive European identity with a vibrant one that faced the Pacific.
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Not a bad book
Author puts himself into the story too much
- R. C. Schmults