"China: Land of Dragons and Emperors"
Adeline Yen Mah
Synopsis: The history of China spans thousands of years. Journey through China in this fascinating and absorbing book: discover the land of dragons and emperors, and learn about the significance of its ancient dynasties. Countless tools and materials that people have used every day for centuries—paper, gunpowder, cast iron, matches, and silk, to name just a few—were first made in China. Chinese society has progressed through major changes, but lucky numbers, festivals, beliefs about colors, the practice of footbinding, the building of the Great Wall, and the larger-than-life people of China are all integral parts of this ancient civilization and still have an impact on life today. Bestselling author Adeline Yen Mah explores an extraordinary view of the great story of China over the last two millennia in this nonfiction work, which also includes black-and-white photographs.
I first heard about this book reviewed on Kristy's (The Story Siren) blog and I had to read it. I am not a huge fan of reading non-fiction, but I took a class on Asian American literature in college and LOVED it. I have been interested in learning more about Asian cultures since. I was hoping that I would love the book as much as I loved the class, but I have to say that I was a little disappointed. Overall the book was informative and interesting, but it did get a little tedious. It basically went through each emperor of China describing the highlights of the different dynasty and some of the most important inventions of the time period. I had no idea so many things were invented in China and I learned a lot about the culture, but it just got a little dull about halfway through. Maybe it is just that I get bored with lots of date and I am don't usually read non-fiction. I really liked how Mah broke up the dynasty chapters by giving tidbits about different topics and photography for a visual of some of the different landmarks discussed. The book also has images, maps, a timeline, and a list of further reading suggestions.
I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoys history or wants to learn about China. This book does give a lot of insight into both the culture and politics of the country, making it a valuable source even if it is a bit slow at times.