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The River's Tale: A Year on the Mekong (edition 2003)
The River's Tale: A Year on the Mekong by Edward A. Gargan
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0375705597, Paperback)"The Mekong scours some of the saddest history of recent years," writes Edward A. Gargan in this richly described and melancholic tale of his journey through Tibet, China, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Thirty years after landing in jail for refusing to register for the draft, the war-protester-turned-foreign-correspondent decided to see for himself how these countries have brought themselves back from the brink, and how their myriad cultures are struggling to preserve themselves. Beginning at the source of the Mekong River, near a camp of nomads high on the Tibetan plateau, he followed the 3,000 mile-long waterway through the heart of some of Asia's most complex and wounded societies. While the first half of Gargan's story, which focuses on China's demolition of Tibetan and other minority cultures, is interesting, it becomes gripping in the claustrophobic paranoia of Laos and post-Pol Pot Cambodia. Ultimately it becomes clear that while America lost the war in Vietnam, it has never left the region--lingering in the scars of war and inversely the creeping acceptance, if not embrace, of all things American. --Lesley Reed
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:26:13 -0400)
"The River's Tale is a deeply informed personal chronicle of a remarkable journey down the Mekong River as it runs through China, Tibet, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. In it Edward A. Gargan tells a stirring tale of adventure that reveals the Mekong's many worlds." "Beginning in 1998, Gargan was at last able to pursue his long-held dream of traveling the three thousand miles of the river and lingering where he wished. He was, in a sense, coming to terms with places and peoples with which he had already linked his life. His youthful opposition to the Vietnam War had been the first manifestation of his passionate interest in Asia, where he subsequently spent much of his career as a New York Times correspondent."."His travels show us a kind of modernity settling uneasily on regions still mired in backwardness and poverty, and shadows that linger so many years after the end of the Vietnam War. We visit Internet cafes in dirt-streeted towns near thatched-hut villages without electricity. The magnificent Angkor Wat, a hub of tourism, is surrounded by the ruins engendered by Pol Pot's genocidal reign. We see plodding mule trains caravanning sacks of opium through Burma on their way to China to be processed and distributed to the West. Tibetan horsemen adorned in silver and amber jewelry herd yaks across endless grasslands as their ancestors did, though their culture is under siege by the Chinese. Vietnamese salesmen scooter around Saigon hawking American soaps, passing by outcast children fathered by American soldiers and left behind. Buddhism flowers in a Laos ravaged by communism. Sex tourism thrives in prosperous Thailand, a trade chiefly involving teenagers, who pay a deadly price."."And throughout, there is the Mekong - shaping landscapes, linking cultures, sustaining populations, showcasing spectacular beauty. Edward Gargan is an acutely observant, sympathetic guide to a fascinating world, and he has written a powerful and lyrical book."--BOOK JACKET.
(summary from another edition)
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