Wild West China: The Taming of Xinjiang

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Rutgers University Press, 2003 - History - 314 pages
2 Reviews
Closed to the world for half a century, like a black hole in the Asian landmass, the wilderness of Xinjiang in northwest China is returning to the light. The picture it presents is both fascinating and disturbing. Despite a savage landscape and climate, Xinjiang has a rich past: sand-buried cities, painted cave shrines, rare creatures, and wonderfully preserved mummies of European appearance. Their descendants, the Uighurs, still farm the tranquil oases that ring the dreaded Taklamakan, the world's second largest sand desert, and the Kazakh and Kirghiz herdsmen still roam the mountains. The region's history, however, has been punctuated by violence, usually provoked by ambitious outsiders--nomad chieftains from the north, Muslim emirs from Central Asia, Russian generals, or warlords from inner China. The Chinese regard the far west as a barbarian land. Only in the 1760s did they subdue it, and even then their rule was repeatedly broken. Compared with the Russians' conquest of Siberia, or the Americans' trek west, China's colonization of Xinjiang has been late and difficult. The Communists have done most to develop it, as a penal colony, as a buffer against invasion, and as a supplier of raw materials and living space for an overpopulated country. But what China sees as its property, the Uighurs regard as theft by an alien occupier. Tension has led to violence and savage reprisals. This portrait of Xinjiang should be essential reading for travelers and for anyone interested in today's China and the fate of minority peoples.

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Review: Wild West China: The Taming of Xinjiang

User Review  - Josh & Tiffany - Goodreads

Tyler presents Xinjiang in a compelling way through his book. It claims to be a history of Xinjiang but I finished feeling a little disappointed. His view is obviously biased toward human rights ... Read full review

Review: Wild West China: The Taming of Xinjiang

User Review  - Anne Sigmon - Goodreads

Fascinating history of China's brutal takeover of its nomadic western province, Xinjiang. Read full review


In the Wilderness
Kings Khans and Khojas
The Fragrant Concubine
The Baby General
Red Dawn
Riots and Reprisals
Skeletons in the Sand
The Great Leap West
The Diaspora
Separate Tables
The Dragon and the Wolf

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About the author (2003)

Christian Tyler is a former staff writer for the Financial Times of London. He has reported on industry, politics, and international trade, and has traveled widely in China.

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