As I’m anticipating my trip to China in January, I’m going to start doing a lot more reading about the contemporary landscape, the hugely diverse culture, and the history of a country that’s existed in one form or another for thousands of years. This was a super-easy-to-read survey of all three of those things — and as it’s a National Geographic book, it has lots of great pictures to give you a feel for what he’s talking about. Makes me want to pick up his book The Chinese. This book does a great job going through 6ish main regions (Beijing, Shanghai, South of Shanghai, Pearl River Delta, Manchuria, Central China & Yunan Region) and talking about each. Good read.
[As an aside, I think I’m going to try ordering my books from Powell’s for a while. I’ve been an Amazon customer for a long time now — since 1996 — but just think that in spite of the high quality of service, I don’t have much alignment with them as a company. Powell’s is harder to order from — they don’t have “one-click”, for example, due to Amazon’s heinous patent strategy — but maybe that just proves the point for me. I also like the idea of making used books as easy to buy as new books, which Powell’s clearly has a stronger commitment to than Amazon. I’ll let you know how it goes. If anyone has experience with them already, let me know.]