Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River

Author(s): Alice Albinia

World History

One of the largest rivers in the world, the Indus rises in the Tibetan mountains, flows west across northern India and south through Pakistan. For millennia it has been worshipped as a god; for centuries used as a tool of imperial expansion; today it is the cement of Pakistans fractious union.


Five thousand years ago, a string of sophisticated cities grew and traded on its banks. In the ruins of these elaborate metropolises, Sanskrit-speaking nomads explored the river, extolling its virtues in Indias most ancient text, the Rig-Veda. During the past two thousand years a series of invaders - Alexander the Great, Afghan Sultans, the British Raj - made conquering the Indus valley their quixotic mission. For the people of the river, meanwhile, the Indus valley became a nodal point on the Silk Road, a centre of Sufi pilgrimage and the birthplace of Sikhism.


Empires of the Indus follows the river upstream and back in time, taking the reader on a voyage through two thousand miles of geography and more than five millennia of history redolent with contemporary importance.

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Winner of Somerset Maugham Award 2009 and Dolman Best Travel Book Award 2009.

'Impressive and original !In the course of her journey, Albinia encounters all kinds of danger, and at times her courage tips her into foolhardiness ! This however, is the behaviour we expect of the best kind of travel writer.' -- Peter Parker, Daily Telegraph 20080517 ' Empires of the Indus is a magnificent book, a triumphant melding of travel and history into a compelling story of adventure and discovery ! an inspiring book, and readers with even a fraction of Albinia's wanderlust will want to set off on their own explorations.' -- Paddy Docherty, Financial Times 20080607 'In an engaging blend of travel writing and history, journalist Albinia charts the course of the longest river in the Indian subcontinent.' -- Financial Times 20080606 'Its originality, enthusiasm and understanding add up to a memorable, illuminating read.' -- Scotsman 20080607 'Imaginatively structured' -- Scotland on Sunday 20080518 'As the first book of a young writer, it's an impressive achievement' -- New Statesman 20080518 'The truly great achievement of this book is to reveal, unflinchingly and with panache, the rich and varied heritage of the Indus in all its appalling spleandour' -- Guardian 20080518 'Alice Albinia is well placed to unpick the country's complex history in this impressive debut' -- Independent 20080518 'I have travelled much of the territory described here but I cannot say that I remotely knew it until I read this wonderful book. With her debut work Alice Albinia is set to take her place alongside the greats like Eric Newby and Colin Thubron. Her prose is lucid and entertaining and her insights invariably penetrating' -- Fergal Keane 20080518

Alice Albinia read English literature at Cambridge and South Asian history at SOAS, then worked for two years in Delhi as a journalist, critic and editor. Written during an audacious journey through Afghanistan, India, Pakistan and Tibet, Empires of the Indus is her first book, for which she won a Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award for work in progress.

General Fields

  • : 9780719560057
  • : John Murray General Publishing Division
  • : John Murray Publishers Ltd
  • : 0.28
  • : December 2008
  • : 197mm X 131mm X 26mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : colour illustrations
  • : 384
  • : 954.91
  • : 4-Sep
  • : Paperback
  • : Alice Albinia