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The Imperial Capitals of China: An Inside View of the Celestial Empire

3.21  ·  Rating Details  ·  14 Ratings  ·  4 Reviews
From the First Emperor's obsessive - and fatal - attempts to engage the Immortals in 219-210 BC, to the striking creativity that produced the golden age of literature and art in Tang Chang'an, to the culmination of architectural virtuosity seen in The Forbidden City of Yong Lee's Beijing in the fifteenth century, this absorbing new book offers a panoramic sweep of an empir ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 4th 2007 by Pimlico (first published 2007)
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I bought this book to learn more about China's ancient capitals. What I discovered, however, is an absolutely delightful book on the history of China (and its capital cities) as chronicled through the lives of its most important emperors. The first chaper on "The Cosmology of the Chinese Capital" is a fascinating overview of the Chinese world view that links astronomy, religion and geography with Chinese, Indian, Khmer and other Asian orientations--one of the best introductions to the subject I' ...more
I may have given this book three stars if not for the egregious editing errors that peppered nearly every page of the book (a few are detailed below).

To the good: This book isn't really about the imperial capitals of China though often as not they do make an appearance in each chapter. Rather, I get the impression the author wanted to write an idiosyncratic little book where he could indulge himself in talking about China. And I didn't mind that. Cotterell has an engaging style of writing, and t
Tim Pendry
Once you get into the rhythm of the narrative, this is an entertaining way of getting a broad outline of Chinese history (up to the early twentieth century) through the story of its imperial capitals.

There are surprisingly few good general accounts of Chinese history, considering the country's new status as rising superpower, although we understand that publishers intend to change that in coming years.

In the meantime, this book will serve. Cotterell writes well enough. The heads of Chinese histo
Oct 17, 2013 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chinese history at its finest. Will add more to my review later.
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Arthur Cotterell, former Principal of Kingston College in London, has spent many years combining senior educational management with historical research. He is the respected author of more than thirty books, and is now writing on the Chinese empire, from the history of which he considers one can learn as much about leadership as from Ashridge or Harvard.
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