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From The Wall To The Water by William Han

In 2015, footloose lawyer and screenplay writer William Han set out to travel the ancient Silk Road from China to Europe, following the footsteps of a Chinese explorer who tried to make contact with the Roman Empire in the first century AD.

Related article: A Third Century Chinese Account of the Roman Empire

Born in Taiwan, raised in New Zealand, and freshly liberated from a New York law firm, he relied largely on a big smile and a firm handshake on a voyage through both space and time from northwest China through Central Asia and Afghanistan to Iran. From the Wall to the Water is a personal odyssey as well as a snapshot of an unstable and little known part of the world from a unique perspective, linking the ancient past to the uncertain present, and generating observations and meditations on the tides of history, and our place within it.

William Han was born in Taiwan and grew up in New Zealand before receiving his education at Yale University and Columbia Law School. As well as a travel writer and lawyer, he is a screenwriter and occasional journalist. He has been to over 120 countries and divides his time between here, there, and everywhere.

“A wholly inimitable travelogue that is often funny, often hair-raising, and often profound. I loved it.” 

— Tom Holland, author of Dominion and In the Shadow of the Sword

“A great travelogue. Like Robert Byron and Paul Theroux before him, William Han traverses the history, topography and Silk Road cultures from western China to central Asia, with wit and an acute eye. ‘From the Wall to the Water’ is a layered, memorable account of a bucket-list journey.” 

— Marcus Brauchli, former editor of The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post

“This book is a must-read for anyone interested in Chinese history, Central Asia, and personal self-discovery. It will also become a class for travelers, history buffs, and anyone who is looking to find their place in this world.” 

— Miranda Brown, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Chinese Studies, University of Michigan

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