Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The Search for the Lost Treasures of Central Asia
by Peter Hopkirk
The Silk Road, which linked imperial Rome and distant China, was once the greatest thoroughfare on earth. Along it travelled precious cargoes of silk, gold and ivory, as well as revolutionary new ideas. Its oasis towns blossomed into thriving centres of Buddhist art and learning.
In time it began to decline. The traffic slowed, the merchants left and finally its towns vanished beneath the desert sands to be forgotten for a thousand years. But legends grew up of lost cities filled with treasures and guarded by demons. In the early years of the last century foreign explorers began to investigate these legends, and very soon an international race began for the art treasures of the Silk Road. Huge wall paintings, sculptures and priceless manuscripts were carried away, literally by the ton, and are today scattered through the museums of a dozen countries.
Peter Hopkirk tells the story of the intrepid men who, at great personal risk, led these long-range archaeological raids, incurring the undying wrath of the Chinese.
So according to Far West China, this book is a must read for anyone visiting the region because “…Hopkirk is a master storyteller and does an amazing job piecing together the story of the Great Game and how that played out here in Xinjiang. You’ll appreciate Urumqi, Kashgar and especially Dunhuang so much more if you read this book before you visit.” The author also apparently summarises stories of other travelers’ adventures. FWC has a book review if you want to read. I dunno.