ACROSS CHINA by Peter Jenkins


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Once again, the author of the wildly successful Walk Across America skillfully guides the armchair traveller through unknown terrain. Here, Jenkins recounts a thrilling trip across Tibet, up the face of Mt. Everest, then into China and Inner Mongolia. Invited by the 1984 China-Everest expedition to record their exploits, Jenkins' ""gee whiz"" excitement about his forthcoming trip boils through the book's opening pages. After lengthy preparations described in loving detail, he flies to Lhasa, where he is floored by the radiant kindness and colorful ways of the Tibetans. A harrowing bus ride along Himalayan cliffs leads first to a heartwrenching encounter with an aged holy man who mimes the tragic destruction of traditional Tibet by Mao's invaders, then to Everest, whose majesty and magnitude shake Jenkins' soul. After enduring severe altitude sickness on the mountain's slopes, Jenkins flies on to China. Accompanied by his Chinese-born American interpreter, he travels throughout central China, mostly off the beaten track in Inner Mongolia. While his portraits of Tibet vibrate with deep affection, Jenkins' depictions of China bristle with indignation at the outrageous restrictions and propaganda foisted on a people so politically timorous. What appeals to Jenkins in China is not the new, but the traditional--especially the food. It's fair to say that he eats his way through China; Jenkins' mouthwatering descriptions of elaborate meals are a gourmet's fantasy come true. Finally, he concludes with a knuckle-whitening recap of the fate of the Everest expedition, an odyssey of stamina, pain and courage. No rival to Paul Theroux, but Jenkins again demonstrates that the charming simplicity of his observations make for swift, engaging fare.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1986
Publisher: Morrow