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Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the…
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Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar (original 2008; edition 2009)

by Paul Theroux (Author)

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8482816,315 (4.03)51
Member:gregvogl
Title:Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar
Authors:Paul Theroux (Author)
Info:Mariner Books (2009), Edition: Reprint, 512 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:travel

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Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux (2008)

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English (27)  Dutch (1)  All languages (28)
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
Ghost Train to the Eastern Star is a sort of sequel to Theroux's earlier book "Great Railway Bazaar." Ghost Train was written thirty years after the earlier book. The author and traveler recreated the trip from Great Railway Bazaar thirty years later, as much as was possible. What the reader and the traveler found out was that parts of the world that were accessible thirty years ago are now closed.

I thought that Great Railway Bazaar, written back in 1975, was a vituperative account written by a snarky dissipated man who was obsessed with sex. It was a good travelogue but those attitudes of his were what stood out to me. The update was a bit different. In Ghost Train, the author retraces his travels from 1975 in 2005. The trip is different because the territory covered is different. In 1975 he couldn't go into the various Stan's of the USSR and in 2005 he could. In 1975 he traveled by train through Iran and in 2005 he couldn't. In 1975 he couldn't travel through Vietnam and in 2005 he could. He rode a bullet train in Japan, and spent a good deal more time there than he did in 1975. As a consequence of all these changes, the book, Ghost Train is different from the earlier book. Of course, the author is a different person now due to his age, with a more conciliatory attitude that shows in his writing. Don't get me wrong - he is still snarky at times, but it has a softer edge.

This was well worth the time it took to read. It is a grand journey told in a grand kind of voice. I would encourage people to read both books, to get a more rounded picture of the author, but if a straight travelogue is what the reader is after, read this later version of the trip. It is a better, though longer, book. ( )
  benitastrnad | Jun 16, 2017 |
Paul Theroux retraces a journey he took thirty years earlier. He avoids the danger of lamenting the "good old days," but in typical Theroux fashion finds plenty not to like, especially in the suffering of the poor and the idiocy of various governments. But while he is somewhat pessimistic at times and sometimes a bit of a name dropper, he is erudite and so many of his criticisms are right on the money that I found it impossible not to get caught up in his journey across Europe and Asia. ( )
  kaitanya64 | Jan 3, 2017 |
The author retraces the route of his earlier trip across the world chronicled in the Great Railway Bazaar and finds a world that is in far worse shape than the one he encountered 33 years ago. The general theme is corruption, decay, decrepitude, over population, unbridled greed and growth at the cost of the environment.

His parting lines are very telling and here I quote a small fragment,

"Most of the world is worsening, shrinking to a ball of bungled desolation. Only the old can really see how gracelessly the world is aging and all that we have lost. Politicians are always inferior to their citizens. No on one earth is well governed. Is there hope? Yes. Most people I'd met, in chance encounters, were strangers who helped me on my way. And we lucky ghosts can travel wherever we want. The going is still good, because arrivals are departures."
  danoomistmatiste | Jan 24, 2016 |
Thirty years ago, Paul Theroux did a massive train trip from Europe through to Japan and back, writing it up in his first, famous travel book, The Great Railway Bazaar. This book recreates that trip where he tries to cover, as far as possible, that same trip, though covering a few new areas that were closed due to the danger back then (Cambodia, as an example) and not being able to retrace his steps to other areas this time for the same reason.
I probably read that first book about 25 years ago, and reading this one reminded me how much I enjoy his travel writing.
He writes with a very acerbic, often funny, but melancholic eye as he observes the changes that have happened right from one end of the trip to the other. So many changes and few of them for the better. Paul is much older and aware of the decay and/or loss attached to so much of the change.
I read the book with my tablet beside me so I could follow the journey on Google Maps--my geography certainly needs some revision (I, like the world, am aging and my memory is not as good as it used to be.)
I enjoyed the read very much. ( )
  quiBee | Jan 21, 2016 |
The author retraces the route of his earlier trip across the world chronicled in the Great Railway Bazaar and finds a world that is in far worse shape than the one he encountered 33 years ago. The general theme is corruption, decay, decrepitude, over population, unbridled greed and growth at the cost of the environment.

His parting lines are very telling and here I quote a small fragment,

"Most of the world is worsening, shrinking to a ball of bungled desolation. Only the old can really see how gracelessly the world is aging and all that we have lost. Politicians are always inferior to their citizens. No on one earth is well governed. Is there hope? Yes. Most people I'd met, in chance encounters, were strangers who helped me on my way. And we lucky ghosts can travel wherever we want. The going is still good, because arrivals are departures."
  kkhambadkone | Jan 17, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
It’s the kind of project that only a man secure in his own self-esteem could undertake: an auto-pilgrimage, a grand ­homme’s homage to, well, himself. But then Theroux has never been overburdened by modesty. Although he has claimed that a prerequisite of traveling responsibly is avoiding arrogance, his previous travelogues have all been pungent with self-regard. “Ghost Train” is no different.
 
He also keeps up a running argument with the books he reads along the way, to say nothing of his contemporaries (Chatwin never traveled alone, he harrumphs, and neither does bête noire Naipaul). Fans of Theroux will say that he hasn’t lost his touch; the more critical will say that he breaks no new ground. Either way, worth looking into.
 
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Epigraph
That feeling about trains, for instance. Of course he had long outgrown the boyish glamour of the steam engine. yet there was something that had an appeal for him in trains, especially in night trains, which always put queer, vaguely improper notions into his head.

George Simeon

The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By
"I'd much rather go by train."

D.H. Lawrence

Lady Chatterley's Lover
Dedication
To Sheila, with love
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You think of travellers as bold, but our guilty secret is that travel is one of the laziest ways on earth of passing the time.
Quotations
I think most serious and omnivorous readers are alike - intense in their dedication to the word, quiet-minded, but relieved and eagerly talkative when they meet other readers and kindred spirits. If you have gotten this far in this book, you are just such a singular person.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0618418873, Hardcover)

Amazon Best of the Month, August 2008: Way back in the dark pre-Internet, limited-air-travel world of 1975, the way to get from Europe to Asia was by train. A young and ambitious writer named Paul Theroux made his literary mark by taking the 28,000-mile intercontinental journey via rail from London to Tokyo and back home again. His book, The Great Railway Bazaar, became a travel-lit classic. Thirty years later, an older, wiser, and even less sanguine Theroux decided to retrace his steps. The result is Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, a fascinating account of the places you vaguely knew existed (Tbilisi), probably won't ever go to (Bangalore), but definitely should know something about (Mandalay). Get on board Theroux's fast-moving travelogue, which features some of the most astute commentary on our distorted notions of time, space, and each other in the age of jet speed, broadband connections, and cultural extinction. --Lauren Nemroff

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:01 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

In Ghost Train to the Eastern Star, Theroux recreates an epic journey he took thirty years ago, a giant loop by train (mostly) through Eastern Europe, Turkey, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, China, Japan, and Siberia. In short, he traverses all of Asia top to bottom, and end to end. In the three decades since he first travelled this route, Asia has undergone phenomenal change. The Soviet Union has collapsed, China has risen, India booms, Burma slowly smothers, and Vietnam prospers despite the havoc unleashed upon it the last time Theroux passed through. He witnesses all this and more in a 25,000 mile journey, travelling as the locals do, by train, car, bus, and foot, providing his penetrating observations on the changes these countries have undergone.--From publisher description.

» see all 6 descriptions

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