Mah (Chinese Cinderella) brings East to West in this concise, reader-friendly history of China that contains more than 80 photographs of famous figures and artifacts. Spanning 2,000 years of strife and victories, the book mainly focuses on China's six dynasties, which are introduced in chronological order and are followed by brief portraits of post-dynasty leaders. Straightforward narrative sheds light on the rise and fall of each empire, defining leaders' accomplishments as well as their acts of tyranny. Of Qin Shi-huang, China's first emperor, Mah states: "Hard-working and disciplined, he read 55 kilograms (120 pounds) of reports written on bamboo slips every day." (And because he wanted Chinese history to begin with his rule: "He ordered all books written before him to be burned. Any scholar who dared to object was buried alive.") Brief sections that explain Chinese attitudes, superstitions, inventions (including gun powder, porcelain and paper) and even the role of palace eunuchs are both entertaining and enlightening. Complete with maps, a time line, index and extensive bibliography, this accessible work will be an invaluable resource for students and young history buffs. Ages 12-up. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—Novel-sized, and with a novel's worth of action, romance, betrayal, and irony, this immensely readable account of the entirety of Chinese history is sure to captivate readers. The chapters are broken into one- or two-page sections, with many brief sidebars, making the book accessible and unintimidating. Plentiful illustrations—photographs as well as reproductions—enliven nearly every page. Mah writes in a personal, friendly tone, at one point warning readers to "jump two paragraphs if you don't like violence." Clearly, she is telling stories that she knows well, and she doesn't skimp on the details, which can be gory, tragic, slightly saucy, or merely entertaining. Well-labeled, good-sized maps are provided on a regular basis, as are metric and English measurements and currency conversion where appropriate. This is an authoritative and entertaining account of the plucky orphans, egotistical monarchs, raving beauties, and scheming empresses who made China what it is today.—Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD
In this sweeping overview of more than 2,000 years of history, Mah offers a rich, eclectic survey of Chinese cultural and spiritual traditions, art and architecture, history, language, mythology, politics and technology. The author makes clear in her introduction that the events and individuals she profiles are ones she finds personally fascinating, and her enthusiasm for the subject matter is evident. The account chronicles the six imperial dynasties that ruled China until the early 20th century, including interesting anecdotes about court intrigues and the role of eunuchs. When profiling important historical figures, she includes curious intimate details, such as Mao Zedong's disgusting personal-hygiene habits, that make the book livelier and more engaging than the average informational book. Abundantly illustrated with art, artifacts, maps and photographs, the text uses inserts and sidebars to expand on facts addressed in the main narrative. This accessible, entertaining introduction to Chinese culture and history is likely to inspire readers to dig deeper into the subjects that pique their interest. (timeline, suggestions for further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 12 & up)