"Over the course of several months during 1931 and 1932, Robert Byron journeyed to three countries teetering on the brink of change. In Russia, which was stricken by famine, Stalin's dictatorship was in its infancy and the Great Terror was yet to begin. Having taken the first commercial flight to India, which took a week, Byron was thrown into the tumultuous last years of the British Raj. Gandhi was imprisoned while rioting and clashes between Hindus and Muslims had become commonplace. Finally Byron entered Tibet, the forbidden country. Exploring the Land of Snows, he saw Tibet as it was when the then Dalai Lama was still ensconced in the Potala Palace, twenty years before China's invasion. Blending classic travel writing with passionate observations on the deeper political and social issues of the time, Byron writes with uncanny prescience of the eventual horrors of the Soviet Union and the downfall of the Raj."--Back cover.
Robert Byron was one of the twentieth century's greatest travel writers as well as a noted art critic and historian. Byron's The Road to Oxiana is considered by many to be the first example of great travel writing; Paul Fussell said that it is to the travel book what "Ulysses is to the novel between the wars and what The Waste Land is to poetry"; Bruce Chatwin described it as "a sacred text, beyond criticism", carrying his copy, "spineless and floodstained" on four journeys through Central Asia. Robert Byron also wrote Europe in the Looking Glass, The Byzantine Achievement and The Station. He died in 1941, at the age of 35, when the ship on which he was travelling was torpedoed by a German U-Boat in the Atlantic.