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Across Asia on a Bicycle

Thomas Gaskell Allen and William Lewis Sachtleben

Book Overview: 

In 1890, two Americans newly graduated from college set out to travel around the world on a then-new invention, the modern bicycle. In 1893 they returned, have covered over 15,000 miles, at that time the "longest continuous land journey ever made around the world." This is their account of their trip across Turkey, Persia, Turkestan and northern China. It described their adventures traveling along through regions few outsiders ever visited. And include climbing Mount Ararat (they didn't find an ark) and a meeting with the then Chinese Prime Minister. And numerous photographs selected from the 2,500 taken on the almost 3 year trip.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ss="tei tei-hi">caimacam (mayor). His house was situated in a neighboring valley in the shadow of a towering bluff. We were ushered into the selamlük, or guest apartment, in company with an Armenian friend who had been educated as a doctor in America, and who had consented to act as interpreter for the occasion.

The kadi entered with a smile on his countenance, and made the usual picturesque form of salutation by describing the figure 3 with his right hand from the floor to his forehead. Perhaps it was because he wanted to be polite that he said he had enjoyed our company on the previous day, and had determined, if possible, to have a more extended conversation. With the usual coffee and cigarettes, the kadi became informal and chatty. He was evidently a firm believer in predestination, as he remarked that God had foreordained our trip to that country, even the food we were to eat, and the invention of the extraordinary “cart” on . . . Read More

Community Reviews

This describes quite an accomplishment and an amazing adventure but somehow I did not find it very interesting and never got a good feel for the 2 men.

This could have been a much better book had the authors made more commentary about the peoples and cultures they passed through. They also seemed to run out of descriptive steam the further east they went. Lots of descriptions as they went through Turkey. Hardly a thing about eastern China. Still, w

This book reads like a fake. I am fully convinced that the writers combined an atlas with a stack of National Geographics to come up with a bland and fully expected narrative.

What leads me to suspect that this work is a phooey? First, we learn almost nothing about the bikers themselves. These people

A brilliant book. It is a travelogue but they were traveling across the Middle East and through China in the 1890s by bicycle. They did have some amazing experiences and meet some great people. The writing is a little dull, but gets better throughout the book.
The photos are extraordinary, even by m

Dated history and a little slow in places, but still a good window in the conditions of how people lived in the 1890s asia vs how we live in the USA. Broadens ones perspective.

Two young men set out in 1890 to bike across Asia. They encounter difficult weather and road conditions, curious people, language barriers, unusual customs, setbacks with illness, equipment breakdowns, and acquiring necessary documents. The bicycle was previously unseen in many of the areas and curi

In the 1890s, Thomas Gaskell Allen and William Lewis Sachtleben, upon their graduation from Wash U. in St. Louis, biked around the world. They wrote this fascinating book about the 1-year-long Asian leg (Istanbul-Peking) of their journey. Everywhere they went both bicycles and Americans were totally

Intriguing, educational

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