cover image China: Land of Dragons and Emperors

China: Land of Dragons and Emperors

Adeline Yen Mah, . . Delacorte, $17.99 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-385-73748-7

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)