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Empires of the Indus by Alice Albinia

Empires of the Indus (original 2008; edition 2009)

by Alice Albinia

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165972,171 (3.91)19
Title:Empires of the Indus
Authors:Alice Albinia
Info:John Murray Publishers Ltd (2009), Paperback
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Tags:Pakistan, India, Indus, history, travel, Sikhism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism

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Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River by Alice Albinia (2008)



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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Nominally a travel book, this book attempts to incorporate, very unsuccessfully in my view, dollops of history and anthropology into its sluggish course. It's a turgid book in which both the author and the locals fixate on mind-numbingly esoteric religious folklore, fanciful family genealogies which ("of course") extend back to Adam, and interminable discourses by shade-tree blowhards on the sources and solutions to Hindu-Moslem hostility. Although the portions of the book which present actual history are more succinct and marginally more interesting, the snippets thrown in are too scattershot and devoid of context to provide insight. Whatever the opposite of a "charmer" is, this book is it. ( )
1 vote Big_Bang_Gorilla | Jun 9, 2016 |
A well written and very readable account of the Indus, the cities it runs through and people who depend on it for succor.
  danoomistmatiste | Jan 24, 2016 |
A well written and very readable account of the Indus, the cities it runs through and people who depend on it for succor.
  kkhambadkone | Jan 17, 2016 |
This is a smart, engaging and beautiful story of a woman who explores the Indus River by foot and uncovers histories, stories and cultures. ( )
  ming.l | Mar 31, 2013 |
This is a complex, beautiful book by a bright, young-at-the-time writer. Albinia structures this combined history / travel book as a trip up the Indus from its mouth to its headwaters, and through its history from the present back to geological time. She researched the river's history and prepared for her trip for a year before going, and that investment shows: she journeys to truly obscure places, and knows what to look for when she gets there, so the account is rich. Other reviewers have described her as fearless; she travels through parts of Pakistan where most Europeans would fear to tread, and with only one or two local contacts as an escort. On the other hand, her own personality is unobtrusive; her narrative keeps the spotlight on the people she meets, the land, and the history.

Overall, it is a fascinating but not cheerful book (although you can sense the pleasure she takes in the people she meets). The Indus, most of which is now in Pakistan, has a rich, complex history, and one of the main themes of the book is the way different cultures and traditions have shaped each other over the years - and before modern times, co-existed. Another theme is the degree to which modernity, in the form of religious fundamentalism and economic pressures, is sweeping away many of the cultural, archeological, and ecological relics of the Indus' long past. Albinia's approach to her material is analytical, poised, and fiercely intelligent, but by the end of her travels she seems on the verge of an emotional crash. She speculates that this is in part a reaction to high elevation, but it may also be the result of engaging with cultures on their own terms while simultaneously maintaining a wry, critical eye that doesn't look away from the squalor and injustice she encounters. Overall, this is a fantastic book to deepen one's understanding and appreciation of Pakistan and the Indus valley, if not to give much hope for its future. ( )
2 vote bezoar44 | Jan 22, 2013 |
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Describes the turbulent history of the Indus River, one of the largest in the world, presenting a historical narrative of the people and civilizations that have lived along its banks in Tibet, India, and Pakistan through time.

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