Ferdinand von Richthofen
Author: Ferdinand von Richthofen
Title: Entdeckungsreisen in China [Expeditions In China] Time: 1868-1872
Length: 4 years
The story: In the mid-19th century, FVR becomes one of the first Westerners to scientifically evaluate larger parts of China. He goes on several journeys through the country, and he seems to be always looking for mineral resources and ways to expand industrial development.
a scientist in China
I found some parts of the book very interesting, mainly because FVR’s travel itinerary matches mine in a lot of places, particularly in the provinces of Shanxi, Shaanxi and Hebei. There were many place names that I had passed through as well, and it seemed like he had taken the exact same roads sometimes, seeing the same things that I saw, only more than 100 years before.
But I still don’t think that this book will appeal to everyone. If you just so happen to not bear a particular fondness of those parts of China, then you might even find it boring. What I am trying to say is: FVR’s writing can become a bit dull at times, especially since he loves lengthy descriptions of all the different kinds of soils and coal layers that he comes along.
Ferdinand von Richthofen digging for coal
Well, to be fair, his outlook is a bit different from those of Sven Hedin and Nikolai Przhevalsky, both of which were heavily influenced by him. He likes to dig for coal, while they are digging for artifacts. This doesn’t make his book bad, it just makes it a bit slow.