Ghost Train to the Eastern Star: Book summary and reviews of Ghost Train to the Eastern Star by Paul Theroux

Ghost Train to the Eastern Star

On the Tracks of the Great Railway Bazaar

By Paul Theroux

Ghost Train to the Eastern Star
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  • Published in USA  Aug 2008,
    512 pages.

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Book Summary

Half a lifetime ago, Paul Theroux virtually invented the modern travel narrative by recounting his grand tour by train through Asia. In the three decades since, the world he recorded in that book has undergone phenomenal change. The Soviet Union has collapsed and China has risen; India booms while Burma smothers under dictatorship; Vietnam flourishes in the aftermath of the havoc America unleashed on it the last time Theroux passed through. And no one is better able to capture the texture, sights, smells, and sounds of that changing landscape than Paul Theroux.

Theroux's odyssey takes him from Eastern Europe, still hung over from communism, through tense but thriving Turkey into the Caucasus, where Georgia limps back toward feudalism while its neighbor Azerbaijan revels in oil-fueled capitalism. Theroux is firsthand witness to it all, traveling as the locals do—by stifling train, rattletrap bus, illicit taxi, and mud-caked foot—encountering adventures only he could have: from the literary (sparring with the incisive Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk) to the dissolute (surviving a week-long bender on the Trans-Siberian Railroad). And wherever he goes, from the European Union to the Pacific Rim and back, his omnivorous curiosity and unerring eye for detail never fail to inspire, enlighten, inform, and entertain.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. No matter where his journey takes him, Theroux always sends back dazzling post cards." - Publishers Weekly.

"These "real" places include everything from porn shops to sex traffickers. In short, this is not light reading." - Library Journal.

"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." - Kirkus Reviews.

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Author Information

Paul Theroux Author Biography

Photo: Greg Martin

Paul Edward Theroux was born on April 10, 1941 in Medford, Massachusetts. The son of a French-Canadian father and an Italian mother, Theroux was one of seven children. Never much of an athlete, Theroux spent most of the 1950's reading. He never admitted, even to himself, his desire to be a writer and studied premed in college. Writing, he believed to be "incompatible with being a man--money is masculinity".

Theroux, who grew up a Boy Scout and a Catholic, graduated high school in 1959 and left Medford "the first chance I had". He attended the University of Maine where he wrote many anti-Vietnam war editorials and refused to join the required Reserved Officers Training Corps. He transferred to the University of Massachusetts and took a creative ...

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Name Pronunciation
Paul Theroux: Thor-ew (which, incidentally, is different to Henry Thoreau which is pronounced like 'thorough')

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