The Stone of Heaven: Unearthing the Secret History of Imperial Green Jade
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The Stone of Heaven: Unearthing the Secret History of Imperial Green Jade

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  71 ratings  ·  11 reviews
Stone of Heaven, The: Unearthing the Secret History of Imperial G, by Levy, Adrian and Cathy Scott-Clark
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published January 7th 2002 by Little, Brown (first published 2001)
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Gemma Alexander
The first part of the book is a history of Imperial Jade, and it reads like a fantasy epic. But the authors are investigative journalists, and the book finishes with their undercover exploration of the secretive jade mines in Burma. They reveal a chilling underbelly of the gem trade that uses heroin and AIDS to pacify a virtual slave labor force that makes Blood Diamonds almost seem wholesome. But somehow, I was still left with a fascination for the rare green gem that would tempt to buy more if...more
Robert Hund
"The Imperial Green, also known as jadeite, is rare; worth more, carat for carat, than diamonds, or rubies. Not to be confused with common opaque jade, jadeite has an astonishing green hue, more brilliant and translucent than emeralds." The source of the stone in Burma was kept secret for hundreds of years. Chinese emperors coveted and collected the stone. Almost all the collection was lost when the Forbidden City was sacked, first by the relieving troops following the Boxer Rebellion, then by t...more
Levy and Scott-Clark are excellent story tellers, and do they ever have a story to tell. Tracing the history of imperial green jade, or jadeite, they begin in the late 18th century with Chinese emperor Qianlong and 400 rivetting pages later end in present day Myanmar. Along the way the reader is exposed to the unrestrained profligacy of the Chinese emperors and the equally unrestrained ignorance and arrogance of the British colonialists. There is scheming and plots within plots as players in the...more
Martin Novak
This is more of a historical narrative of people wearing jade than a story about jade itself. The first part of the book focuses on the people who have worn jade throughout the centuries. It was well-researched and serves as a great introduction to jade's importance in Chinese culture.

Too bad then that the middle portion of the book degenerates into a sensationalistic and gossipy account of Shanghai's (now dead) rich folk's lust for jade. For many people reading in this genre- this part turns in...more
Quite unexpected. Mostly a history of China, Burma and Britain and the obsession with imperial green jade (not to be confused with plain old jade, this comes only from one area of remote Burma). Also a sad and sorry history of the Chinese and Burmese empires and their inability to withstand European colonialism and to adapt to changing societies. The stories of the Empires and Europeans obsession with jade (up until the present, including Barbara Hutton, Madame Chian Kai Chek, etc.) are fascinat...more
I first read some of this book in its earlier form as a magazine article when I was a child. Now expanded upon to give a full history of Jade and its origins of mining and the effect its had on history it is well worth spending the time to read. It also gives a better understanding as to some less than ethical origins in Burma and the treatment of miners there - a situation that sparked the original article and is an issue that I am sure has not yet ended.
There are few if any heroes in this history of Chinese imperial jade. This beautiful stone seems to bring out the worst traits in humans and society.

I generally don’t like it when an historian (in this case a journalist) breaks the fourth wall and talks about the process of writing the book I’m reading, but in this case it works. Their journey to discover the past eventually leads to the modern day mines in Myanmar. Chilling.
Fascinating history, but the authors really needed a good editor. The first and last sections of the book were amazing, great history, exciting stories of sneaking into Burma. The middle bit was the problem for me. Chapter after chapter of socialites buying and selling jewelery got very old very fast. Levy and Scott-Clark are fantastic reporters who are at their best in long-form journalism, not so much in writing books.
Stephanie Stuart
The story is facinating, but the book jumps around alot between different timeperiods and after awhile keeping it all straight become tiresome (given that I am not a scholar of Chinese history). I read about 4/5 of the book; I don't regret what I read, but I also don't regret not finishing it.
Booknerd Fraser
An interesting story, but a little dense and meandering. Wasn't quite the subject matter I was expecting. And the authors' inability to pick a Chinese romanizing system and consistently stick with it was very annoying.
Jun 15, 2008 Selena rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone - compelling history!
Recommended to Selena by: Sarah gave me this book
Wow! This takes investigative journalism to a new level! I highly recommend this!
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