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The River at the Center of the World: A Journey Up the Yangtze, and Back in Chinese Time (ISBN 0-312-42337-3) is a book by Simon Winchester. It details his travels up the Yangtze river in China and was first published in 1996.

The River at the Center of the World
The River at the Center of the World.jpg
Author Simon Winchester
Country England
Language English
Genre Travel literature
Publisher Henry Holt
Publication date
Media type Print
Pages 410 pp (first edition, hardcover)
ISBN 0-8050-3888-4
OCLC 34411014
915.1/20459 20
LC Class DS793.Y3 W56 1996

Viewing an ancient Chinese painting scroll drawn by Wang Hui gives the author the inspiration on how to structure his book. He starts his journey in Shanghai, at the Yangtze river's delta, and makes his way upriver to the headwaters. At the same time, his narration also makes a journey back in time, writing about contemporary times in Shanghai and Nanjing, and writing about events that date back increasingly farther in cities upriver.

He makes the travel with a companion — a Chinese lady who is referred to in the book only as Lily to protect her identity. The chapter titled A New Great Wall is devoted to the Three Gorges Dam, then under construction and fully operational as of 2012.

Chapter ListEdit

  1. The Plan
  2. The Mouth, Open Wide
  3. The City Without a Past
  4. The First Reach
  5. City of Victims
  6. Rising Waters
  7. Crushed, Torn and Curled
  8. Swimming
  9. A New Great Wall
  10. The Shipmasters' Guide
  11. The Foothills
  12. The Garden Country of Joseph Rock
  13. The River Wild
  14. Harder Than the Road to Heaven
  15. Headwaters

External linksEdit