Cover image for The last secrets of the Silk Road : in the footsteps of Marco Polo by horse and camel
The last secrets of the Silk Road : in the footsteps of Marco Polo by horse and camel
Tolstoy, Alexandra.
Personal Author:
First Lyons Press edition.
Publication Information:
Guilford, Conn. : Lyons Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
x, 209 pages, 2 unnumbered pages : color illustrations, map ; 24 cm
General Note:
"First published in Great Britain by Profile Books Ltd., 2003"--T.p. verso.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS327.8 .T65 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



After graduating from the University of Edinburgh in the summer of 1996, Alexandra Tolstoy began working for an investment banking firm in New York and London, only to quit within a year. Like many twentysomethings, she longed to travel, to find adventure - and soon those longings found their outlet, when she learned that an acquaintance dreamed of riding the ancient Silk Road on horses and camels. Before long, a plan took shape: to journey nearly five thousand miles through the desert, steppes, mountains, and forests of Central Asia and China.
In The Last Secrets of the Silk Road, Alexandra Tolstoy recounts the incredible sojourn she made with three companions in 1999 through some of the least-explored countries and areas of the world: Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgzstan, the Taklamakan Desert, and China. In lands associated with Genghis Khan, Marco Polo, Alexander the Great, Peter Fleming, and "The Great Game," Alexandra and Sophia ("Mouse") Cunningham, Victoria ("Wic") Westmacott, and Lucy Kelaart encountered extremes of climate and landscape, braved dangers, and found camaraderie and friendship, on an eight-month-long journey of a lifetime.

Author Notes

Alexandra Tolstoy is the daughter of historian Nikolai Tolstoy and a distant cousin of the author of War and Peace. She lives in Moscow, where she is establishing a travel company

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

The old adage "You can't tell a book by its cover" is certainly true in this case. What could have been an impressive account of past glories revisited is, instead, a diarylike chronicle written by a young woman whose only claim to fame is a distant kinship to the author of War and Peace and a title no longer recognized in Russia. The author relies on the memories of three traveling companions to document an eight-month, 5000-mile Asian journey beset by problems of both human and natural origin. Childish bickering marks many of the quartet's reported personal conversations. Other discussions reflect the foursome's general disdain for the intelligence of their local travel guides. Historical data seems to have been lifted directly from textbooks, while references to Marco Polo and his travels are few and far between. As for secrets, the only one revealed in these pages tells of the author's schoolgirl-like crush on the man in charge of the horses. An immature effort by a first-time author, this book is not recommended.-Mary V. Welk, Chicago (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. ix
Illustrationsp. xi
Introductionp. 1
1 In the beginningp. 7
2 First staging postp. 15
3 Samarkand and beyondp. 31
4 The 'secret garden'p. 47
5 In the mountainsp. 71
6 Goodbye to the mountainsp. 93
7 China, at lastp. 109
8 The Taklamakanp. 139
9 The long march to Dunhuangp. 171
10 The black Gobip. 189
11 The end of the roadp. 203
Further readingp. 210