Empires of the Indus
By Alice Albinia
One of the largest rivers in the world, the Indus rises in the Tibetan mountains, flows west across northern India and south through Pakistan. For millennia it has been worshipped as a god; for centuries used as a tool of imperial expansion; today it is the cement of Pakistans fractious union. Five thousand years ago, a string of sophisticated cities grew and traded on its banks. In the ruins of these elaborate metropolises, Sanskrit-speaking nomads explored the river, extolling its virtues in Indias most ancient text, the Rig-Veda. During the past two thousand years a series of invaders - Alexander the Great, Afghan Sultans, the British Raj - made conquering the Indus valley their quixotic mission. For the people of the river, meanwhile, the Indus valley became a nodal point on the Silk Road, a centre of Sufi pilgrimage and the birthplace of Sikhism. Empires of the Indus follows the river upstream and back in time, taking the reader on a voyage through two thousand miles of geography and more than five millennia of history redolent with contemporary importance.
Extremes along the Silk Road
By Nick Middleton
The Silk Road is the fabled route that cuts through one of the most extraordinary tracts of land on this planet. A vast region separating China from the Mediterranean, it rates as one of the least hospitable on Earth – a succession of hostile deserts and towering mountain ranges, a harsh terrain of howling winds, searing heat and blistering cold.No stranger to unforgiving territory, Nick Middleton follows in the footsteps of Alexander the Great and Marco Polo overland from China to Istanbul, surviving as they did the life-sapping Gobi desert, the icy passes of high altitude Tibet, and the great Steppes of Turkmenistan, and encounters those who eke out existences there today.Nick's great gift as an adventure writer is to weave together the personal experience of ridiculous endurance - from sleeping on steaming rocks in the middle of a sub-zero desert to eating the most dubiously-cooked local delicacies - with the bigger picture of our planet and its peoples.