View Gallery


The Horse That Leaps Through Clouds

A Tale of Espionage, the Silk Road, and the Rise of Modern China

List Price: $21.95

April 17, 2012 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 512 Pages | ISBN 9781582438177
Order Now From Indiebound

"A complicated, ambitious travel adventure through modern Inner Asia... a truly inspired journey." —Kirkus

On July 6, 1906, Baron Gustaf Mannerheim boarded the midnight train from St. Petersburg, charged by Tsar Nicholas II to secretly collect intelligence on the Qing Dynasty’s sweeping reforms that were radically transforming China. One of the last Tsarist secret agents, Mannerheim chronicled almost every facet of China’s modernization, from education reform and foreign investment to Tibet’s struggle for independence.

On July 6, 2006, writer Eric Enno Tamm boards that same train, intent on following in Mannerheim’s footsteps. Initially banned from China, Tamm devises a cover and retraces Mannerheim’s route across the Silk Road, discovering both eerie similarities and seismic differences between the Middle Kingdoms of a century ago and today.

Along the way, Tamm offers piercing insights into China’s past that raise troubling questions about its future. Can the Communist Party truly open China to the outside world yet keep Western ideas such as democracy and freedom at bay, just as Qing officials mistakenly believed? What can reform during the late Qing Dynasty teach us about the spectacular transformation of China today? As Confucius once wrote, “Study the past if you would divine the future,” and that is precisely what Tamm does in The Horse That Leaps Through Clouds.

About Eric Enno Tamm

ERIC ENNO TAMM is an author and journalist. His first book, Beyond the Outer Shores: The Untold Odyssey of Ed Ricketts, the Pioneering Ecologist Who Inspired John Steinbeck and Joseph Campbell, was a Kiriyama Prize Notable Book. His writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Toronto Star, among others. Tamm currently lives in Ottawa. For more information, visit


“A complicated, ambitious travel adventure through modern Inner Asia… a truly inspired journey.” —Kirkus

“Following in the footsteps of Baron Carl Gustav Mannerheim, the last Tsarist spy in the so-called Great Game, Tamm has written a grand sweep of a narrative. It combines a long and arduous physical journey—9 months and 17,000 kilometers from St. Petersburg across the Tibetan Plateau and the Gobi desert to Beijing—with the revelations of high stakes history—espionage in virtually unknown territory in the early years of the twentieth century. At its core, this is a journey into the soul of the Middle Kingdom, and the roots of modern China. Full of wild characters, harsh geography, and historical surprise, Tamm’s journey reveals him to be at once an intrepid adventurer, fine writer, and discerning historian. Altogether a wonderful book.” —Wade Davis, explorer in residence at the National Geographic Society

Related Products