Book Reviews

A Carpet Ride to Khiva: Seven Years on the Silk Road by Christopher Aslan Alexander

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List Price: £8.99


Paperback: 320 Pages.

Published: 01 July 2010 by Icon Books Ltd

ISBN: 1848311494

EAN: 9781848311497

This is a unique, beautiful and moving account of seven years living in the remote Uzbek desert. "The Silk Road" conjures images of the exotic and the unknown. Most travellers simply pass along it. Brit Chris Alexander chose to live there. Ostensibly writing a guidebook, Alexander found life at the heart of the glittering madrassahs, mosques and minarets of the walled city of Khiva - a remote desert oasis in Uzbekistan - immensely alluring, and stayed. Immersing himself in the language and rich cultural traditions Alexander discovers a world torn between Marx and Mohammed - a place where veils and vodka, pork and polygamy freely mingle - against a backdrop of forgotten carpet designs, crumbling but magnificent Islamic architecture and scenes drawn straight from "The Arabian Nights". Accompanied by a large green parrot, a ginger cat and his adoptive Uzbek family, Alexander recounts his efforts to rediscover the lost art of traditional weaving and dyeing, and the process establishing a self-sufficient carpet workshop, employing local women and disabled people to train as apprentices.


4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars  by Anne


The author travels to Uzbekistan with a not for profit agency to write a guidebook to the historical city of Khiva and ends up living there and starting a social enterprise which weaves silk into carpets using traditional patterns employing local people.

This is a really interesting book which captures the beauty of the area and its complex history and culture. It showed me a lot I did not know about how this country and how its people live and think, especially in the shadow of Afghanistan and Russia its near neighbours. The people of the book are described in all their variety of character and so too is the life of the country.

I did feel that there was possibly a lot left out by the author about the work he did and also about what happened after he left but what is here is excellent travel writing with some fascinating historical nuggets. Easy to read and very involving.

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