Yangtze: Nature, History, and the River

Oscar Gross Brockett, Author, Lyman Van Slyke, Author, Lyman Van Slyke, Author Addison Wesley Publishing Company $16 (211p) ISBN 978-0-201-08894-6
As the central artery of a far-flung economic region, the Yangtze River carries four-fifths of China's waterborne traffic along its 3900-mile length. The river sustains 70% of the country's grain output, and some 300 million people live along its banks. But the ``Long River,'' as the Chinese call it, is more than an overwhelming geographical fact: it is a collective memory that threads its way through China's consciousness. Shuttling back and forth over centuries, Van Slyke, professor of history at Stanford, ties the Yangtze to the history of canal-building, the rise of Shanghai from fishing port to commercial magnet, opium traffic, political infighting, the little-known saga of the tung-oil trade (which rivals the romance of silk and tea), sail designs of junks, and much else. The book is an admirable attempt to pierce the paradox of a people steeped in sense of place, yet ever on the move. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/25/1988
Release date: 05/01/1988
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