Through the Heart of Asia
The French explorer, author and legislator Gabriel Bonvalot (1853–1933) received funding from the French government to lead two expeditions to Central Asia in the 1880s. This two-volume English translation by C. B. Pitman of the French original was published in 1889 and is a richly illustrated account of the second of the two Asian expeditions, in which Bonvalot and the scientist Guillaume Capus attempted to enter Afghanistan. Although the party was detained and sent back to Samarkand upon entering Afghanistan, they refused to concede defeat, as Bonvalot was determined to reach India via a trail believed to run across the Pamir and Hindu Kush mountains. In Volume 1, Bonvalot describes the journey from Marseille via Tehran to Samarkand, interspersing his narrative with observations of the climate and culture they encounter. At the Afghan border, guards warn that 'they will hack us to pieces and throw our bodies into the stream'.