Originally published in 1936, News from Tartary is the story of a 3,500-mile trip across China: from Peking, through the mysterious province of Sinkiang, to India. One of the most difficult trips that could have been made in the 1930s, or even today, the journey took Peter Fleming and his fellow traveler, Kini Maillart, a young female journalist from Switzerland, through some of the most desolate country of central Asia, over passes more than 15,000 feet high, through burning deserts, and among some of the world's most exotic peoples. It is all told by Fleming in his inimitable manner, which underemphasizes the difficulties and describes keenly interesting events and developments with humor and brilliant color. Made without the knowledge of the Chinese government, the trip often endangered the lives of the travelers, and on several occasions the chances of their return seemed slight. Fortunately, Fleming proved adept with a .22-caliber rook rifle, and Maillart's amateur medical skills more than once won the favor of the local residents.
No writer has given a sharper picture of the unchanging Tartary than has Fleming. His account has become a major classic of travel writing and a definitive description of a now-vanished way of life. It is filled with endurance and adventure, with strange encounters in the wilderness, with tales of Chinese, Mongol tribesmen, and Indians, and with a spirited sense of levity and indomitable courage.