Review: Black Dragon River: A Journey Down the Amur River at the Borderlands of Empires

Black Dragon River: A Journey Down the Amur River at the Borderlands of Empires Black Dragon River: A Journey Down the Amur River at the Borderlands of Empires by Dominic Ziegler
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Black Dragon River has a long history, reaching as far back as Genghis Khan and the Mongolian empire around 1000 years ago. This was the beginning of its tumultuous history of conflict and war that has lasted pretty much until the present day. Also called the Amur, it is a river that I had never heard of until I picked this book up. Turns out it is the world’s ninth longest and forms part of the border between Russia and China and has been a focal point for each country’s expansion plans over the years. It has seen more than it fair share of death and destruction from both sides

Ziegler begins his journey along the river as Khan would have done, on a horse, from the Mongolian steppe into the taiga to what is thought to be the source of the river. His journey along the river is not always easy so he is forced to take the Trans-Siberian Railway through a valley of water meadows. He does return to the river and the people and places along it, but it almost seems to be a aside. I was hoping this was going to be a fascinating travel book about a relatively unknown part of the world, but sadly there was much more history than travel, and this is a place that has had a lot of brutal events happen. Not bad, but not great.

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2 Comments

  1. DoingDewey

    I'm much more likely to not like a book when it's not what I expect! Personally, I might prefer a history to a travel book, but if I expected a travel book and got a history, I'd be disappointed too.

  2. Paul Cheney

    When you're expecting one thing and get another it isn't always great, but it can occasionaly work where it is a much better book that you envisaged

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