Beyond That Last Blue Mountain: My Silk Road Journey

Silk weaving in Afghanistan, bartering in Peshawar and snipers in Bosnia, Harriet Sandys reveals her remarkable travels. In hardback and paperback.

Order in the United States here (paperback only.)

Order in the EU here.


Harriet’s parents hoped that, after leaving boarding school and doing ‘the Season’, she would meet and marry a suitable young man. But she was to disappoint them. Just after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, she set off for Peshawar to see for herself the plight of thousands of displaced Afghan refugees. Determined to do something about their dire situation, Harriet set up a small silk weaving project for illiterate Turkmen refugees, and was sent by UNESCO to Mazar-i-sharif to work with Afghanistan’s last remaining silk ikat weavers. During those years she was arrested by the K H A D, narrowly missed being blown up, survived acute bacterial meningitis in a Kabul hospital, and rescued an abandoned pi-dog puppy who became her devoted companion. At the end of the first Gulf War she travelled with the Peshmerga in the newly-liberated Iraqi Kurdistan. Then in 1994 she joined a group of unemployed builders and decorators driving convoys of food and aid from Croydon to the Muslim enclaves in Bosnia Herzegovina. Much has been written about conflicts in these countries, by war correspondents, diplomats and military personnel, but this is a different story. It is about young woman from a sheltered and privileged background travelling and working alone, in and around war zones, frequently with no financial or practical support, at a time of increasing Islamic fundamentalism.

Additional information

Dimensions 22.3 × 15.3 cm

September 2018
November 2019


Paperback, Hardback

9 reviews for Beyond That Last Blue Mountain: My Silk Road Journey

  1. Lyse Doucet OBE, BBC Chief International Correspondent

    An extraordinary journey by an extraordinary woman, beautifully told and bravely lived. Storytelling at its best.

  2. tonstantouida (verified owner)

    The author turned her back on the conventional life mapped out for her in favour of travel and adventure in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and various war zones. This isn’t only a travel book; it’s a personal journey. Harriet Sandys describes places and people, blood-chilling danger and travels through landscapes of wonderful beauty, in a direct and engaging style that will hook and keep your interest from the first page to the last.

  3. Jo Gardner (verified owner)

    A fascinating book. You feel as if you are really alongside Harriet through all her travels – adventurous, exciting, funny and downright scarey in places and all true. Encouraging traditional carpet making and silk weaving skills to live on, giving hope to refugees and homeless people to earn a little money to help support their families. A really good read.

  4. Lisa Kaaki, Arab News (verified owner)

    “Oriot,” as [Harriet] was affectionately called, defied danger, traveling in and around war zones with almost no financial support.

    “Had I pondered too long and too hard on all the dangers and difficulties I might have encountered … I would have remained a secretary, regretting missed opportunities,” she said. Brave, humble and compassionate, Harriet Sandys touches our hearts in this moving true story.

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  5. Westmorland Gazette (verified owner)

    Harriet’s story is a phenomenal adventure which she captures in compelling and well crafted prose.

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  6. Fiona Dart, Blackmore Vale Magazine (verified owner)

    The book is a great romping read, recounting with matter of fact humour Harriet’s many adventures from being arrested by the KHAD, nearly dying of meningitis in a Kabul hospital, and rescuing an abandoned puppy, but also beautifully, through her lovely descriptive style, the atmosphere of a special place and period in its history.

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  7. Rishika Pardikar, The Wire (verified owner)

    Piecing together the patchy notes she had written during her journeys and drawing larger narratives from the letters she wrote to her family, Harriet pieced together a memoir…

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  8. Sam Willis, British historian, television presenter and writer (verified owner)

    A modern story of exploration and endeavour on the most ancient of trade routes. Anyone with an interest in the Silk Road, past or present, must read this book.

  9. Sarah Skinner

    An uplifting account of the courageous adventures of an extraordinary woman who turned her back on convention to help people find hope against all odds. A must read.

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