Lady Bird and Lyndon

Today was “Johnson Day” on our visit to Austin, Texas. As in President Lyndon Johnson (LBJ), and his wife Lady Bird Johnson. This city was their home base and launching pad for his political career so their lives and legacies loom large.

In the morning we visited the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, a gorgeous arboretum on the edge of the city. Being that it’s November, there weren’t a lot of flowers in bloom; however we enjoyed the 80+ degree weather (it’s in the 30’s back in Minnesota!).

In the afternoon we headed over to the University of Texas campus to visit the LBJ Presidential Library. It’s an excellent museum, and was a good reminder of fading memories from my childhood.

If you find yourself in Austin someday, I’d recommend both sites.

And of course we topped it off with a wonderful Texas-style dinner at Blacks Barbecue. Best brisket I’ve ever had!

Image credit: Janet Wachter

Road Trip | Interstate 35

After three “shorter” road trips this year (Oregon in April, Kansas in July, and Montana in August), we’re finally getting around to our annual epic road trip. Being that it is November, we decided to make a swing south, with stops in Austin, New Orleans, Panama City Beach, and Memphis, visiting relatives and taking in some of the sights.

The first leg of our journey was a 2-day drive on Interstate 35 (I-35). We got on the freeway in Roseville, MN, and got off 1200 miles later in Austin. Just one highway (except for a detour to avoid a crash in a construction zone between Waco and Austin).

I-35 cuts through the heart of the country, from Duluth, MN to the Mexican border in Laredo , TX, traversing 6 states along the way. (Note: most descriptions of the highway have it starting in Laredo and going north; I, obviously, think it’s the other way around.)

Along the way we stopped to have lunch with my cousins at a BJ’s Restaurant and Brew House in Dallas and in Waco to visit Magnolia Markets.  If you are a fan of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper”, then you’ll know why we stood in line for 20 minutes to buy cupcakes!

While there is, to be honest, a certain monotany in driving 1200 miles along one highway, it is an interesting way to watch and experience the variations in geography, climate, and language as you make your way south. We left behind corn fields being harvested in Minnesota for the “home on the range” terrain of central Texas, with a few cotton fields thrown in for fun. Bare trees in Minnesota slowly gave way to ones that were still colorful to the still-fully green trees of Austin.

And somewhere along the way the accent of American English shifted from the nasal whine of “Minnesotan” to “southern.” Based on my numerous trips up and down the interstate I would say that  the shift begins to take place at about the Iowa-Missouri border. What I’d love to do sometime is stop at every truck stop along the way and ask a clerk to read a short sentence to see if I can plot the shifting of the vowels as I move south. Another time.

I-35 is an important part of life in the Twin Cities with 35W going through Minneapolis, and 35E going through St. Paul, so it’s easy to forget that it is not “our highway.” This also means that it is strange to go to other cities that give pride of place to the highway. I find myself wanting to say, “hey, that’s OUR highway, not YOURS.”

But maybe that’s the point; it doesn’t belong to Minnesota, or Texas, or any of the other states along the way. It’s Middle America’s Main Street!

If you’re into American road trips, or just find yourself traveling on freeways and wonder how they got built, then you might enjoy this book: The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways

The Big Roads: The Untold Story of the Engineers, Visionaries, and Trailblazers Who Created the American Superhighways

Image credit: KSAT.com

95 Theses in Chinese

In honor of Reformation Day, here is the list of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses in Chinese (simplified). It is taken from the Baidu Baike, the Chinese version of Google/Wikipedia all rolled into one.

路德关于赎罪票效能的辩论(九十五条)
为爱护与阐扬真理起见,下列命题将在文学和神学硕士及常任讲师路德马丁神甫主持之下,在威登堡举行讨论。凡不能到会和我们口头辩论的,请以通讯方式参加。奉主耶稣基督的圣名。阿门
( 1 )当我们的主耶稣基督说『你们应当悔改』的时候,他是说信徒一生应当悔改。
( 2 )这句话不是指着告解礼,即神甫所执行的认罪和补罪说的。
( 3 )这句话不是仅仅指内心的悔改而言,因为内心的悔改若不产生肉体外表各种的刻苦,便是虚空的。
( 4 )所以罪恶的惩罚是与自恨同长久,因为这才是真正内心的悔改,而一直继续到我们进入天国。
( 5 )教皇除凭自己的权柄或凭教条所科的惩罚以外,既无意也无权免除任何惩罚。
( 6 )教皇不能赦免任何罪债,而只能宣布并肯定罪债已经得了上帝的赦免。那留下归他审判的,他当然可以赦免。他若越过此雷池,罪债便仍然存在。
( 7 )上帝赦免人的罪债,未有不使那人在他的代表神甫面前凡事自卑的。
( 8 )惩罚教条仅是加于活人身上,对临死者不应有所惩罚。
( 9 )所以圣灵借着教皇用宽仁对待我们,使他在教会中总将死亡和必要定为例外。
(10)神甫将教条,所定补赎给临死者留到炼狱,乃是无知邪恶的。
(11)将教条所定的惩罚变为炼狱中的惩罚,很显然是仇敌在主教们睡觉的时候所撒的一种稗子。
(12)从前实施教条,所定的惩罚,并不是在宣赦之后,而是在宣赦之前,作为真正痛悔的考验。
(13)临死者因死亡就免除了一切惩罚,他们向教条的法规是已经死了,不再受它们的约束。
(14)临死者心灵的健康若不完全,那即是说,他的爱心若不完全,他便必大有恐惧,而且爱心越小,恐惧就越大。
(15)单是这恐惧(且不说其它一切)就足以成为炼狱的惩罚,因其与绝望的恐惧相距不远。
(16)地狱,炼狱,和天堂之间的区别,似乎是与绝望,将绝望,和确信之间的区别相同的。
(17)灵魂在炼狱里恐惧越减少,爱心便越增加,这似乎是确实的。
(18)我们由理智或圣经似乎都无法证明,这种灵魂不能建立功德,或增加他们的爱心。
(19)虽然我们对他们的福祉也许很有把握,但是似乎也无法证明他们自己都有这种把握。
(20)因此教皇所谓全部免除一切惩罚,意思并不是指免除一切惩罚,而只是指免除他自己所科处的惩罚。
(21)所以那些宣讲赎罪票者,说教皇的赎罪票能使人免除各种惩罚,而且得救,乃是犯了错误。
(22)因对他对炼狱里的灵魂,并不能免除那按照教条应当在今生受的惩罚。
(23)如果有甚么人以得免除一切惩罚,那么只有最完全的人,即最少数的人,才能得以免除一切惩罚。
(24)所以大多数的人,难免是被这不分皂白和夸张的、免除惩罚的应许所欺骗。
(25)对于炼狱,教皇在全教会有多少权柄,主教和神甫在他们的主教区和教区也有多少权柄。
(26)若是教皇不用钥匙权(他没有此权)而用代求,来免除炼狱中灵魂的罪,他便行得好。
(27)那些说钱币一叮当落入钱筒,灵魂就超脱炼狱的人,是在传人的捏造。
(28)很显然,当钱币投入钱柜中“叮当”作响的时候,增加的只是利心和贪欲心,至于代祷是否有效,完全只能以上帝的意志为转移。
(29)从圣瑟威立努(St. Severinus)和圣巴斯噶(St. Paschal)的传奇来看,炼狱里的灵魂是否都愿被赎出来,是没有人知道的。
(30)无人能确知自己的痛悔是诚实的;更无人能确知自己得了完全的赦免。
(31)诚实买赎罪票的人,是与诚实忏悔的人一样很希罕。
(32)那些因持有赎罪票而自信得了救的人,将和他们的师傅永远一同被定罪。
(33)那些说教皇的赎罪票,是上帝使人与自己和好的无价恩赐的人,是我们应当特别警防的。
(34)因为赎罪票的恩赐,只及于人在告解圣礼中所加的惩罚。
(35)那些说为求获得救赎或赎罪票并不需要痛悔的人,是在传与基督教不符的道理。
(36)每一个基督教徒,只要感觉到自己真诚悔罪,也同样可以得到赦罪或全部免罚。
(37)任何活着或死了的真基督徒,即令没有赎罪票,也都分享基督和教会的一切恩惠,这些恩惠是上帝所赐的。
(38)然而教皇的赦免是不可蔑视的,因为正如我所说的,它宣布上帝的赦免。
(39)最有学问的神学家也很难一面宣讲赎罪票的好处,又一面宣讲真心痛悔的必要。
(40)真实的痛悔寻找并爱慕补赎;滥发赎罪票,却使人疏忽并厌恶补赎,或至少使人有这种倾向。
(41)教皇的赎罪票宜小心加以宣讲,免得人们误解,以为它们比其它爱的行为更为可取。
(42)基督徒须知,教皇并无意将购买赎罪票一事与慈善的行为相比。
(43)基督徒须知,赒济穷人,或贷款给缺乏的人,比购买赎罪票好得多。
(44)因为爱的行为使爱心增长,也使一个人变好些,但赎罪票不能使人变好些,仅能使人避免惩罚。
(45)基督徒须知,人若看见弟兄困苦,不予援助,反用他的钱购买赎罪票,他所得的,并不是教皇的赦免,而是上帝的忿怒。
(46)基督徒须知,他们除非有很多的余款,就应该把钱留作家庭必需的开支,决不可浪费在购赎罪票上。
(47)基督徒须知,他们购买赎罪票,乃是出于自择,而不是出于命令。
(48)基督徒须知,教皇颁发赎罪票,渴望(因他更需要)他们为他的虔诚祈祷,甚于他们所带来的金钱。
(49)基督徒须知,他们若不信靠赎罪票,赎罪票便是有用的,但他们若因赎罪票而丧失了对上帝的敬畏心,赎罪票便是最有害的。
(50)基督徒须知,教皇若知道那些宣讲赎罪票者的榨取,他是宁愿让圣彼得堂化为灰烬,而不愿用他羊群的皮,肉,和骨去从事建筑的。
(51)基督徒须知,教皇宁愿(照他的责任)把他自己的钱赐给许多被骗购买赎罪票的穷人,即令把圣彼得堂拍卖,也在所不惜。
(52)靠赎罪票得救,乃是虚空的,即令教皇的代表,甚或教皇本身,用灵魂来作担保,也是如此。
(53)那些为求宣讲赎罪票而叫其它教堂不得宣讲上帝道之人,乃是基督和教皇的敌人。
(54)在同一次讲道中,若讲赎罪票比讲上帝的道花相等或更长的时间,便是亏负了上帝的道。
(55)教皇的意思必然是:如果为庆祝颁发赎罪票这件最小的事,要鸣一个钟,举行简单的游行和仪式,那么为宣讲福音这件最大的事,就应鸣一百个钟,举行一百个游行和仪式。
(56)教皇颁发赎罪票所凭借的教会宝藏,在基督的子民中间,既未充分加指定,也未被认识。
(57)显然至少它们不是世上的宝藏,因为这许多赎罪票贩子不会散发而只会积攒世上的宝藏。
(58)它们也不是基督和圣徒的功德,因为这种功德,虽没有教皇相助,也使人内心得恩典,并将肉体钉在十字架上,使它死灭。
(59)圣劳伦斯(St. Lawrence)说,教会的穷人便是教会的宝藏,但他如此说,乃是用当时的说法。
(60)我们很可以说,那由基督的功德所赐给教会的钥匙,便是那宝藏。
(61)因为显然要免除惩罚和那留给教皇审问的案件,只要有教皇的权柄便够。
(62)教会真宝藏乃是上帝荣耀和恩典的神圣福音。
(63)但这宝藏自然是最令人恨恶的,因为它使在前的成为在后的。
(64)反之,赎罪票的宝藏自然是最讨人喜欢的,因为它使在后的成为在前的。
(65)所以福音的宝藏是他们从前用以获得富人的网。
(66)赎罪票的宝藏是他们现在用以获得人的财富的网。
(67)赎罪票,照宣讲者所说的,是最大的恩典;其实所谓『最大』,不过是指它们为最大的牟利工具。
(68)实则它们若与上帝的恩典和人对十字架的虔敬相比,就微不足道了。
(69)主教和神甫必须礼恭必敬地接纳教皇赎罪票的代理人。
(70)但是他们更必须运用耳目,好叫代理人不至于宣讲自己的幻梦,而不宣讲教皇的使命。
(71)若有人否认教皇赎罪票的效力,他应该受咒诅。
(72)但那反对赎罪票贩子的胡乱宣讲的人,乃是有福的。
(73)教皇对那些用图谋破坏赎罪票交易的人加以威胁,乃是适当的。
(74)但他对那些藉赎罪票为口实图谋破坏神圣之爱和真理的人,更要加以威胁。
(75)把教皇的赎罪票看得这么有效,甚至认为它们能赦免一个(假定那不可能的事)玷辱了圣母的人,这简直是疯狂的看法。
(76)反之,我们认为教皇的赎罪票,对最小之罪的罪债也不能除去。
(77)若说,纵使圣彼得现在是教皇,他也不能赐人更大的恩惠,这便是诽谤了圣彼得和教皇。
(78)反之,我们说,现在的教皇或任何教皇都有更大的恩惠,即福音,德行,和医病的恩赐等等,如哥林多前书十二章所写的。
(79)说那,饰以教皇徽号的十字架,是与基督的十字架同样有效,这是亵渎
(80)那容许这种说法在民间传播的主教,神甫,和神学家,是必得向上帝交帐的。
(81)这种对赎罪劵的荒谬宣传,使得那些纵有学问的人,对于大家对教皇的尊敬,也确实感到困难;对于俗人的怀疑和非难更难以回答。
(82)他们要问:教皇若为得钱以建立一个教堂的小理由而救赎无数的灵魂,他何不为神圣的爱和灵魂的痛苦的大理由而使炼狱空虚呢?
(83)既然为得赎者祈祷是错误的,那么为甚么还继续给死者举行安灵弥撒呢?教皇又为甚么不退还或准许收回为他们所设立的基金呢?
(84)他们为得钱的缘故,就让一个不虔敬并作他们的仇敌的人,把一个作上帝之友的虔敬灵魂从炼狱里买出来,却不为纯洁之爱的缘故,因鉴于那虔敬和可爱的灵魂本身的所受痛苦而将他赎出来,这是上帝和教皇所定甚么样的虔敬呢?
(85)惩罚教条既因久不用而失效,人为何还要用钱买赎罪票来免除这种教条所定的惩罚,彷佛这种教条还是十足有效呢?
(86)教皇的财富今日远超过最富有者的财富,他为建筑一个圣彼得堂,为何不用自己的钱,而要用贫穷信徒的钱呢?
(87)教皇对那些因完全痛悔而有权得全赦的人,有甚么可赦免的呢?
(88)如果教皇把现在每天只作一次的作一百次,即把这些赦免和特赦颁给每个信徒,那么教会所得的福岂有比这更大的呢?
(89)如果教皇现在颁发赎罪票,是为拯救灵魂,而不是为得钱,那么以前所颁发的赎罪票既是同样有效,他为甚么把它们搁置呢?
(90)对平信徒的这些论点和疑问仅用教皇权来压服,而不用理智来解答,乃是使教会和教皇受敌人耻笑,并使基督徒不愉快。
(91)所以赎罪票若是按照教皇的意旨和精神宣讲的,那么这一切疑问便都要迎刃而解,而且根本就不会发生。
(92)因此那些向基督徒说:『平安,平安』,实则没有平安的先知滚开去罢!
(93)那些向基督徒说:『十字架,十字架』,而自己不背十字架的先知,永别了!
(94)基督徒应当听劝,努力跟从他们的领袖基督,经历痛苦,死亡,和地狱。
(95)所以他们进入天堂,要靠经历许多艰难,而不靠人平安的保证。

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

 

There’s More Than One Way to “Go Green”

In February of 2001, the International Olympic Committee made their final inspection visit to Beijing to see if the city would be up to hosting the 2008 Olympics. In preparation for that visit, the city got a major “spruce-up.” Office and apartment buildings that had been a dull gray since their construction decades before were painted bright colors. Well, three sides of the buildings were painted — only the ones that face the highways that the Committee members would travel on. Every surface of the city was scrubbed clean.

My personal favorite was the grass. During a stroll through Tiananmen Square I noticed that the newly installed grass was green. “Green grass in February?” I was puzzled. Upon closer inspection I discovered that the entire “lawn” had been spray-painted green.

I thought of that today when I read this post in the The Beijinger about the city’s current effort to “greenify” in the run-up to the Communist Party Congress that will be held next month. All the power boxes are being covered with fake vines:

As the British say, “BRILLIANT!”

Related Posts:

Where the Grass is Greener

A Grassy Knoll

Photo: The Beijinger

Friday Photo: Old Sedan Church

During a short trip to Montana last week, we took a drive into the beautiful Shields Valley, north of the town of Livingston. Along Highway 86, about 5 miles west of the town of Wilsall we spotted this old (but nicely restored) church.

Old Sedan Church

According to this site, the congregation was founded in 1898, but this structure dates to 1910.

The door was not open, but we were able to look inside and see nicely restored pews and lectern.

A Reunion in Coffeyville

With plans set to drive with my sister and mom to Wichita, Kansas for the weekend, I checked out my trusty Rand McNally Road Atlas, which I never go anywhere without, to see how far it would be to make a side trip over to Coffeyville, KS. For those of you who have read my book, you will remember that the first bell I found hanging in a church in China has an inscription saying that it was cast for the First Baptist Church in Coffeyville, KS. I figured if it was close enough, we could make a slight detour on our weekend road trip so I could give the pastor a copy of my book.

While not particularly close, it seemed doable. So, on Thursday night I sent a message to the church via their Facebook page, introducing myself and saying that I had information on their old bell. I asked if the pastor would be at their Sunday night service and if so, I’d like to visit and give him a book.

On Friday morning, the pastor wrote back that yes, he would be at the Sunday evening service, and not only could I give him a book; he wanted to turn his time over to me so I could share the story with the congregation.

And so it was that on Sunday evening, I (along with my sister, mom, and a friend who drove over from Arkansas) had the privilege of facilitating a sweet reunion; not between relatives or long lost friends, but between a church family and its history.

Since the bell had been shipped to China in 1911, it was a piece of history that had been lost to them. They have a photo of the old church in which the bell had been, as well as the cornerstone of the church, but they knew nothing about the bell or its new life in China.

When I showed them the photo of the bell and read the inscription, “Presented to the First Baptist Church of Coffeyville, Kansas by W.S. Upham, Praise Ye the Lord,” there were audible gasps and not a few tears. I told them that the story of their bell is also a story of God’s faithfulness to the church in China and to their church. They were excited to hear of what God is doing in China and to realize that this bell connects them to that work in a way that had been unknown to them.

After the service, we all gathered for a photo in front of the picture of their bell. Then we lingered as they showed me various historical artifacts from their church: an old photograph of the first church building, erected in 1886 (the bell’s original home); the cornerstone from the 1907 church building; an old photograph of Mrs. Upham.

As we said good-bye to our new friends, they were already making plans to reinstitute the ringing of their church bell on Sunday mornings.

To Pastor Dean and the people of the First Baptist Church in Coffeyville, KS, I say thank you. Thanks for welcoming this crazy lady from Minnesota into your home to tell you “an old, old story.” Thanks for an evening of sweet fellowship; it was a taste of heaven. But most of all, thanks for sending your bell to China, where it continues to herald the preaching of the Gospel on Sunday mornings in Yibin, Sichuan Province!

First Baptist Church, Coffeyville, KS 1886

The first church building, erected in 1886, the same year the bell was cast. Perhaps it is in this photo, unseen.

Emma Upham, the wife of W.S. Upham, who donated the bell to the church in 1886.

Related Posts:

A Tale of Two Bells

1907 – The Bell Begins Its Journey 

Mr. Upham and the Bell

 

Who Was Liu Xiaobo?

You may have seen on the news on Thursday that imprisoned Chinese dissident and Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo passed away from liver cancer in a hospital in northeast China. He had been sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009 for his part in the writing of “Charter 08,” a document calling for political reform in China.

In case you are wondering who he is and the significance of his life and work, I recommend reading these two articles, both in the New York Review of Books:

The Passion of Liu Xiaobo, by Perry Link

After his release from Qincheng Prison in 1991, Liu was banned from publishing in China and fired from his teaching post at Beijing Normal University—even though students there had always loved his lectures. He began to support himself by writing for magazines in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and overseas. The rise of the Internet in China in the early 2000s gave a huge boost to circulation of his essays, not only outside China but inside, too, as overseas friends found ways to skirt the government’s Great Firewall and send them back into China. Before 1989, his essays had been mostly on contemporary Chinese literature, but now he addressed topics in history, politics, and society, revealing a rich erudition.

China’s ‘Fault Lines’: Yu Jie on His New Biography of Liu Xiaobo, by Ian Johnson

In 2003, Yu converted to Christianity and increasingly complemented his provocative writing with political activism of his own. He was an early signer of Charter 08, the landmark human rights manifesto, and in 2010 cemented his position as a leading political critic by writing a biography of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in which he refers to his subject as “China’s best actor.” Last year, Yu completed a rough draft of his biography of Liu Xiaobo, who is now serving an eleven-year prison sentence. Authorities warned Yu that he too would be jailed if the book was published and put him under house arrest for several months. In January, he fled China with his wife and son for the United States, where he now resides.

I spoke to Mr. Yu at a church in the Washington area.

It is a sad day for China.

Recommended Reading: Non-fiction

I recently saw someone on Twitter ask for non-fiction book recommendations. I promptly made a list of some of my favorite non-fiction books; however, since I’m generally hesitant to jump into Twitter conversations, I decided to share my list here.
Bottom line: I love reading non-fiction, and as you will see from this list, I gravitate towards history and travel writing!
So if you’re looking for some non-fiction books to read, why not consider one (or all) of these. They are in no particular order other than the order in which they popped into my mind! And keep in mind that there are just a few of my favorites.
Balkan Ghosts A Journey Through History
Part travel writing, part historical-political analysis, this book takes a look at the Balkan states in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union.

Earning the Rockies: How Geography Shapes America's Role in the World

Learn why it matters that so many of our major river systems flow diagonally across the continent! Note: if you like geo-political analysis, read anything by Kaplan. As you can tell, I am a big fan!

Shantung Compound: The Story of Men and Women Under Pressure

In 1943 the author, along with most other foreigners in northern China (including Beijing and Tianjin) were rounded up by the Japanese and sent to a prison camp in Shandong Province (Shantung). The guards, in essence, said to the prisoners: “we will manage the walls and gates, but you have to organize yourselves into a functioning society.” It should be required reading as a history textbook, and political science textbook, a sociology textbook, and anthropology text book, and a psychology textbook.

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

This book recounts the story of the migration of African-Americans from the south to the north between 1915 and 1970, as told from the perspective of 3 different families. How is it possible that this wasn’t taught in school? I hope it is now.

Thunder out of China, by Theadore White

Thunder out of China

Teddy White reports from China during the Civil War (1940’s), during the time the Communists and Nationalists had formed a tenuous alliance to fight off the Japanese. The first time I read this book I was living in the Chinese city of Zhengzhou, so was particularly gripped by his vivid description of a famine that had taken place there in the 1940’s.

China Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power, by Rob Gifford

China Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power

NPR Correspondent  Rob Gifford hitch-hiked across China from Shanghai to the border with Kazakhstan, talking to people along the way. The stories he tells reveal some serious social, economic, and political fault lines. Even though the book is now more than ten years old, the fault lines are all still present, and perhaps in even more danger of slipping.  You can read my review of this book here.

Freedom at Midnight, by Larry Collins and Dominque Lapierre

Freedom at Midnight

In August of 1947, the Union Jack was lowered in British India. But rather than leave behind an independent India, a line was drawn on the map and two new independent nations were created: India (predominately Hindu) and Pakistan (predominately Muslim). As the day of independence approached Hindus and Muslims on the “wrong” side of the new border tried to get to there “right” side. The bloodshed was horrific.

Nicholas and Alexandra, by Robert K. Massie

Nicholas and Alexandra

This is the story of the last Romanov Czar of Russia and his family. Since we know how the story ends, it’s like watching a slow-motion train wreck.

In Xanadu: A Quest, by Willam Dalrymple

In Xanadu: A Quest

Dalrymple hitch-hiked from Jerusalem to Xanadu, Kublai Khan’s ancient capital (near Duolun, Inner Mongolia) in the 1980’s. This book inspired my own quest to find the city. You can read about that here.

Tent Life in Siberia: An Incredible Account of Siberian Adventure, Travel, and Survival, by George Kennan

Tent Life in Siberia: An Incredible Account of Siberian Adventure, Travel, and Survival

Imagine it is 1865 and you have been dropped off on the frozen coastline of the Kamchatka Peninsula on the east coast of Siberia. Your mission: find a route across Russia to string a telephone line. And you live to tell about it. One of my all time favorite books, hand’s down!

Related: 

Best Reads of 2011

Books: The Last Five and the Next Five

Four Days, Four Books

My Favorite China History Books

Shanghai Books

Road Trip Reading List

Road Trip Reading