Tuesday, February 19, 2008

China on the brain

Well, I don't know what it is about me lately, but I seem to be ordering and reviewing an awful lot of books about China. In my defense, there is a heightened interest in that country due to the upcoming summer Olympics (and because of less cheery topics like consumer product safety). So the publishers have been busy cranking out beautiful books that introduce Westerners to the history, culture, religions, politics and economics of China. We have yet another one on the shelves (from DK, one of my favorite coffee-table book makers): China: people, place, culture, history. The first chapter - Landscape - is page after page of gorgeous wide-angle shots of various locations around the country. It gives you a very real appreciation of the geographic diversity and immense size of China. The second section goes through the history of China. The format of this section is basically a running timeline with scattered pictures and blurbs of information. If you want a more in-depth history, try The Great Wall: China against the world, 1000 BC - AD 2000, by Julia Lovell. Then follows an interesting section about the Chinese people, which focuses on various representative professions (cricket seller not being one you would commonly find in the U.S.). The chapter on culture is alarmingly brief, but the architecture chapter is great. Sometime before the torch fires up in Beijing this summer, you should check out one of our many new books on this fascinating country.

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