THE HORSE THAT LEAPS THROUGH CLOUDS

A TALE OF ESPIONAGE, THE SILK ROAD, AND THE RISE OF MODERN CHINA

A complicated, ambitious travel adventure through modern Inner Asia, tracing the 1906–08 trek by a Russian spy commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II.

The account of the secretive two-year journey undertaken by Baron Gustaf Mannerheim was not published until 1940, when it was highly admired by Hitler. Journalist Tamm (Beyond the Outer Shores: The Untold Odyssey of Ed Ricketts, the Pioneering Ecologist Who Inspired John Steinbeck and Joseph Campbell, 2004, etc.) only discovered Mannerheim’s Across Asia from West to East recently, and embarked on his trip in 2006 to retrace the baron’s arduous ethnographic journey through the last years of the Qing Dynasty, when modern currents were eradicating the old order—not unlike the cataclysmic changes shaking China to this day. In 1906, Russia was reeling from its humiliating defeat by Japan in the Russo-Japanese War, and enlisted Mannerheim, an officer in the Imperial Army, to undertake the mission through the Asian provinces to gather information on all aspects of Chinese reforms, defensive preparations, politics, colonization and the role of the Dalai Lama (whom Mannerheim got to meet), all in preparation for a possible Russian military incursion. Like Mannerheim, Tamm is intensely curious about the role of China on the world stage, and pursues similar questions about what kind of China will emerge from these wrenching attempts at modernization. Tramping from St. Petersburg to Peking proved a mind-boggling trajectory, penetrating myriad ethnic pockets, Mannerheim by caravan, Tamm by airplane, train, bus and car. Each man encountered all manner of suspicious or friendly people, mishaps and illness. Along the way, Tamm read Mannerheim’s diary—“aloof, impersonal and even churlish at times”—to gain a deeper understanding of this singular character. A well-edited work chronicling a truly inspired journey, leaving readers hopeful about Chinese progress as well as full of questions.

 

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58243-734-7

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

An admirable, warts-and-all history of a milestone in environmental preservation.

EMPIRE OF SHADOWS

THE EPIC STORY OF YELLOWSTONE

The story of a national park might seem a niche subject, but OnEarth magazine editor Black (Casting a Spell: The Bamboo Fly Rod and the American Pursuit of Perfection, 2006, etc.) surrounds it with a colorful, stormy, often-distressing history of our northern mountain states.

The author begins with Lewis and Clark, whose 1804–06 expedition passed nearby but brought back only rumors of odd geological events. The northern Rockies remained a backwater for another half-century. Almost no one but fur traders took an interest for the first 30 years; wagon trains pouring west after 1840 passed well to the south. By the 1850s gold mining and ranching produced settlers, quickly followed by the Army, both anxious to eliminate the Indians. Black provides painful details of 20 years of conflict that accomplished this goal. Lacking gold or good grazing, the Yellowstone area attracted few settlers, but visitors brought back tales of wondrous geysers, boiling springs and breathtaking scenery. In 1869 the small, privately funded Cook-Folsom-Peterson Expedition produced such a tantalizing report that Montana residents organized a large expedition. That expedition spent a month exploring, resulting in a torrent of publicity that led to the federally funded Hayden Geological Survey of 1871. Its enthusiastic report included historical photographs by William Henry Jackson and paintings by Thomas Moran, and the resulting publicity persuaded Congress to create the world’s first national park in 1872. Congress did not, however, provide money, so vandalism, poaching and commercial exploitation flourished until 1886 when the Army moved in. It did not leave until the new National Park Service took over in 1918.

An admirable, warts-and-all history of a milestone in environmental preservation.

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-38319-0

Page Count: 576

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A sturdy companion to Michael Lieder and Jake Page’s Wild Justice (1997)—highly recommended for readers interested in Native...

COYOTE WARRIOR

ONE MAN, THREE TRIBES, AND THE TRIAL THAT FORGED A NATION

A solid case study in an emerging trend: American Indian lawyers’ use of the courts to extract rights and dollars hidden away in long-forgotten treaties.

When William Clark saw the fall run of salmon on the Columbia River, writes freelance journalist VanDevelder, he exclaimed that he could cross from bank to bank on their backs without ever touching water. In 1991, only a single salmon made the journey to an Idaho lake; it was “stuffed, shellacked, and mounted on a pine board and hung in the governor’s office in the Idaho statehouse in Boise.” Its fate aptly describes a subtext of VanDevelder’s narrative, for there was a time when Social Darwinists in the American government hoped that the Indians, dispossessed of their land and stripped of their traditions, would simply fade away. In 1945, that thinking seemed a factor in the US Army Corps of Engineers’ plan to create a vast diversion dam across the Missouri River in North Dakota, one that would flood lands claimed by the Arikara, Hidatsa, and Mandan peoples, who had helped Lewis and Clark during the winter of 1804–5 and regretted it ever since. The dam was built, despite the protestations of Indian delegations to the US Congress, displacing thousands of Indians—including the family of Raymond Cross, who would grow up to attend Yale Law and who would take a vigorous interest in redressing the wrongs visited on his people. So he has done, battling the likes of Justices Rehnquist and Scalia, whom Cross characterizes as “an ideological tag team and throwback to another century.” Despite setbacks, writes VanDevelder, Cross and other Indian attorneys have been hitting hard, reasserting Indian rights and throwing unschooled judges into confusion as “Federal courts are now routinely asked to sort through the myriad of conflicting conditions to divine what tribal leaders understood at the time [a given] treaty was made.”

A sturdy companion to Michael Lieder and Jake Page’s Wild Justice (1997)—highly recommended for readers interested in Native American issues.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2004

ISBN: 0-316-89689-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2004

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more