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A Fortune-Teller Told Me


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About the Author

For 25 years Terzani has lived in Asia, witnessing and reporting on its wars and revolutions. Born in Florence, educated in Europe and the US, Terzani became Far Eastern correspondent of Der Spiegel in 1971. In 1975 he was one of the few Western journalists to stay behind in Saigon and to witness the North Vietnamese take over the city. In 1984 he was living in China when he was arrested, accused of counter-revolutionary activity and expelled. His last book was translated as GOODNIGHT, MISTER LENIN: A JOURNEY THROUGH THE END OF THE SOVIET EMPIRE (Picador 1993/4).


The author of Gai Phong, a riveting eyewitness account of Saigon's liberation, and Behind the Forbidden Door, an account of early post-Maoist China, Terzani, a resident of Asia and multilingual correspondent for Der Spiegel, has written an extraordinary and nuanced account of a journey through the Far East and Southeast Asia. In 1993, heeding a nearly stale 13-year-old fortuneteller's warning against air travel that year, Terzani visited Burma, Thailand, Mongolia, China, Japan, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Singapore by train, car, bus, and foot. Along the way, he sought prophecies from soothsayers, astrologists, monks, and fortunetellers, often in old and fabled places. Making many contacts, he was able to venture into the heart and soul of Asia where ancient customs and new fads coexist, where past wars and politics leave room in their wakes for drug lords, and where occult beliefs persist. Asia is felt rather than described. Highly recommended for public libraries. Margaret W. Norton, Oak Park, IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"I was marked for death, and instead I was reborn," declares Italian-born journalist Terzani (Saigon 1975; Goodnight, Mr. Lenin; etc.) and readers of this vivid memoir will believe it. In 1976, early on in his career as a Der Spiegel correspondent in Asia, Terzani was warned by a Hong Kong fortune-teller not to fly in 1993 or he would die. When the fateful year came, Terzani submitted to the warning (no easy decision given all the voyages his work requires), and that year traveled, sometimes with wife Angela in tow, by ship, car, bus and train through 11 countries, including Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Mongolia. Dividing his lucid, graceful and unsentimental prose into 27 anecdotal chapters, Terzani takes readers to the International Thai Association of Astrology, investigates the use of raw garlic and red peppers as a bulwark against the AIDS virus and decries the domestic dog butcherings in Hanoi and constant creeping Westernization throughout the continent, which he encounters and laments in myriad forms. Talking with shamans and soothsayers, Terzani finds the Westernized mind "more limited... a great part of its capacity has been lost. The mind is perhaps the most sophisticated instrument we have, yet we do not give it the attention we give our leg muscles." Terzani's ease and candor and his care for local politics, religion and everyday life make for a full journey of mind, body and spirit. (On-sale date: June 19) Forecast: This book was published by HarperCollins UK in 1997; the delay in its issue here lessens its immediacy considerably. As an Italian correspondent for a German magazine who works in Asia for his living and has a strong Luddite strain, Terzani offers an idiosyncratic, decidedly non-American point of view it's this book's great strength, but also a possible liability with the less internationally minded. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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