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There's nary a tranquil moment in this tumultuous history of China's capital. Journalist Becker (The Chinese) surveys centuries of invasion, civil war and revolution played out against vicious infighting in the Forbidden City. Throughout, Becker observes, Beijing stayed remarkably intact, a charming cityscape of bustling markets and intimate courtyard houses. Far more destructive, in the author's telling, has been China's plunge into modern capitalism, with the 2008 Olympics delivering the coup de grace: soulless high-rises, roaring highways and Wal-Marts have replaced most of Old Beijing. Becker pens an engrossing elegy for that vanished city, and a cri de coeur against China's contempt for its own past. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.