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  • Published: 14 September 2021
  • ISBN: 9781784742881
  • Imprint: Chatto & Windus
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $40.00

The Amur River

Between Russia and China

Follow our greatest travel writer (and rusty Mandarin speaker) along the far eastern river that separates Russia from China, the two great ex-Communist giants, taking in Mongolia, Siberia and the Sea of Japan

'Thubron on top form. Richly detailed, immaculately written and full of insights and encounters that bring a complex corner of the world to life' Michael Palin

A dramatic and ambitious new journey for our greatest travel writer

The Amur River is almost unknown. Yet it is the tenth longest river in the world, rising in the Mongolian mountains and flowing through Siberia to the Pacific. For 1,100 miles it forms the tense border between Russia and China. Haunted by the memory of land-grabs and unequal treaties, this is the most densely fortified frontier on earth.

In his eightieth year, Colin Thubron takes a dramatic journey from the Amur's secret source to its giant mouth, covering almost 3,000 miles. Harassed by injury and by arrest from the local police, he makes his way along both the Russian and Chinese shores, starting out by Mongolian horse, then hitchhiking, sailing on poacher's sloops or travelling the Trans-Siberian Express. Having revived his Russian and Mandarin, he talks to everyone he meets, from Chinese traders to Russian fishermen, from monks to indigenous peoples. By the time he reaches the river's desolate end, where Russia's nineteenth-century imperial dream petered out, a whole, pivotal world has come alive.

The Amur River is a shining masterpiece by the acknowledged laureate of travel writing, an urgent lesson in history and the culmination of an astonishing career.

  • Published: 14 September 2021
  • ISBN: 9781784742881
  • Imprint: Chatto & Windus
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 304
  • RRP: $40.00

About the author

Colin Thubron

Colin Thubron is an acknowledged master of travel writing, and the winner of many prizes and awards. His first writing was about the Middle East - Damascus, Lebanon and Cyprus. In 1982 he travelled into the Soviet Union in an ancient Morris Marina, pursued by the KGB, a journey he recorded in Among the Russians. From these early experiences developed his classic travel books: Behind the Wall (winner of the Hawthornden Prize and the Thomas Cook Travel Award), The Lost Heart of Asia, In Siberia (Prix Bouvier) and Shadow of the Silk Road. His most recent book is To a Mountain in Tibet (all available in Vintage). Colin Thubron was President of the Royal Society of Literature from 2010 to 2017.

Also by Colin Thubron

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Praise for The Amur River

The Amur River is said...to be his [Thubron's] very best book yet

Maggie Fergusson, Tablet, *Books to Look Out For 2021*

Enthralling... A captivating portrait of a remote region of the world

Kirkus, Starred Review

Breathtaking...a top-notch travelogue

Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

A fascinating read packed with curiosities and incident

The Times

Thubron's journey makes for a gripping read...with fascinating political insight

Sunday Times

Excellent... Thubron's observations are perceptive and lightly delivered

Literary Review

[Thubron] summons both landscape and people with nuanced sensitivity... Here is a writer at the top of his game, one from whom those toiling on the lower slopes have much to learn


Given Thubron's age, this may be his last major travel book: but he has chosen an important subject, a place where huge geopolitical forces meet and, like tectonic plates, push at each other. When the result could be an earthquake, it's worth paying attention

Isabel Lloyd, Tablet

More even than before, Thubron's prose rings with the knowledge of truths too deep for words

Nikhil Krishnan, Oldie

A mesmerising travel narrative

Charlotte Runcie, Daily Telegraph

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