Chinese Turkestan: A Photographic Journey Through an Ancient CivilizationChinese Turkestan: A Photographic Journey Through an Ancient Civilization by Ryan Pyle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a relatively short book textually, it’s mostly a collection of black and white photographs that Ryan Pyle took¬†in Chinese Turkestan. Having read the book of his bike ride round China with his brother this book makes sense. It was clear from the Middle Kingdom Ride that Ryan was mesmerised by the clash of culture, tradition and modernity that Chinese Turkestan represents.

The pictures are all amazing, and what you get from them is the sheer variety of life in this region. You also get a harsh but beautiful landscape and a way of life that doesn’t look like it has changed in centuries, with little glimpses of modernity, a moped, or an electric motor. What the photos convey is how much Chinese Turkestan is a ‘Stan rather than China, the people are all central Asian rather than the Chinese that we think of when we think of China.

The only downside I had with it were that the double page spread pictures often have their effect spoiled by the fold. They are all great photographs, and it might have been better for fold-out pages for these photos, as the size does work. The facing page could then contain the descriptive text alongside the photo. This would make it easier to find the description.

One last point, make sure you read the introductory text, it puts the photos in some context and communicates the passion Ryan Pyle has for the area. Well worth a read.

PS I received a free review copy.

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