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China: Land of Dragons and Emperors

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  133 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
A fascinating book about the history and culture of China.

The history of China spans thousands of years. Journey through China in this fascinating and absorbing book: discover the land of dragons and emperors, and learn about the significance of its ancient dynasties. Countless tools and materials that people have used every day for centuries—paper, gunpowder, cast iron, m
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 9th 2009 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

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China's history is also full of larger-than-life people: warlords, emperors, concubines, eunuchs, fierce women.

And that, my friends, is why I read and watch Chinese historical fiction.


My knowledge of Chinese history is haphazardly sketched, a combination of what I learned in school, some frantic Google searches, and books. When I was in 10th grade, I was forced to memorize all major Chinese dynasties in order. As I'd grown up somehow thinking that they numbered in the thirties and forti
Jan 27, 2015 Matt rated it liked it
Shelves: travel, young-adult
This book was quite useful as a quick introduction to Chinese history. Of course, given its length and nature as young-adult nonfiction, it lacked some detail and complexity. I particularly liked the few glimpses into Chinese culture (the meaning of colors, the inventions, etc.), but mostly the book was about the various emperors and the intrigues surrounding them. If that got repetitive, I suppose that says more about the human lust for power than Mah's writing. It was interesting (and sad) to ...more
Candy Mickelson
Jun 13, 2013 Candy Mickelson rated it it was ok
This books is a very interesting young adult non-fiction book about China. It is very informative, but Yen Mah tends to take the standard history book approach and focus on imperial history and writes little about the everyday people. She states at the beginning of the book that China recorded history more precisely than other countries such as those in Europe, but she only seems to use that of the Emperors, which doesn't seem very impressive for the records, because most royalty information is ...more
Erin Reilly-Sanders
I really enjoyed this brief little history of China. I felt that the topics and people it focused within the different time periods were relevant, interesting, and consequently well-chosen. I would have really liked more constructed visuals that imparted information like more maps over time, city maps, buildings,and something that showed how long each dynasty lasted since the numbers are hard to relate to each other. While I really appreciate the aesthetic qualities of the book (nice size, good ...more
Aug 13, 2009 Heidi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Upper primary and lower secondary
I processed this book into the library collection last week but never really considered reading it until this year when the students began working on an Ancient China assignment and our collection was coming up rather short. Mah's book was catalogued as modern Chinese history, and I wanted to work out whether it was miscatalogued, and whether it could be helpful to kids in their ancient China assignment.

It is a *very* basic introduction to Chinese history; very much an overview. It (allied with
Feb 04, 2011 Heidi rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2009, nonfiction
Mah, author of the memoirs, Falling Leaves and Chinese Cinderella, has attempted to span 2200 years of CHinese history in this one small book. Without a doubt, she succeeds, as she draws the readers into the world of silk, warlords, and dynasties. The text is well organized, mainly by dynasty, and anecdotal information is describe on pages printed with gray scrolls. Black and white photos, illustrations, and maps supplement the text. One item which detracted from the book was the lack of paginat ...more
Dec 13, 2009 Jinbin rated it really liked it
Shelves: advisory-09-10
In this book, Adeline Yen Mah leads the readers thousands of years back to the history of China. She starts the book telling the story of China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. In chronological order, she goes on with the dynasties following the first and their significant roles in China's history. From this book, I learned that the Chinese first invented matches, paper, gunpowder and many other tools that people used. However, they were not smart enough to greatly utilize those tools. For exampl ...more
Apr 28, 2011 Melissa rated it really liked it
This book blew me away. It think it was mostly the scope and subject that was so fascinating (though clean, clear writing helps). I honestly can't believe how little I've known about Chinese history. It was a "Hey, listen to this," sort of book for me. Some of those emperors was downright brutal. I even found myself ranting out of the blue at a family party about the heartless British opium trade. I only regret that much of this information was so new to me that I've already forgotten a great de ...more
Jul 22, 2009 Kristi rated it liked it
Fantastically depicted history of China, informative and enjoyable without really feeling like you were in a classroom. I’m not really sure how to go about reviewing this novel, since I don’t usually review nonfiction. I can’t judge characters or plot..... since there aren’t any.

I’m not usually a nonfiction fan, but I actually enjoyed reading this one. It didn’t take me too long and it was actually interesting. The novel breaks down the book by Dynastys and explains what happened during that pe
Feb 20, 2015 Fabiola rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved how she managed to fit so many different events and characters into such a short book! I finally got the dynasties clear, as well as China's history in general. A great read for intro to China's history.
Shirley Lee
May 16, 2010 Shirley Lee rated it it was amazing
fabulous summary of the what's most important in China's history. would definitely recommend this book for someone who has little knowledge of the dynasties. most importantly, it's not boring or dense but indicates the importance of the 6 major dynasties. a lot of other books, list all the dynasties and it's way too confusing and complicated to comprehend especially with over 5000 years of history involved. what inventions did the chinese made? paper, wheelbarrow, crossbow, matches, silk, seismo ...more
Jan 09, 2016 Nikki rated it really liked it
Pretty nice little intro into Chinese history. Very much a stepping stone book and you could tell it was aimed for a younger audience.
All in all a informative read.
Apr 10, 2012 Kathy rated it really liked it
Great little book on Chinese history. I was amazed how much was packed into this little book. A great introduction to the most populous country in the world. Interesting stories, interesting pictures, well-done. The only fault I find with the book is what some others have said: The textual editing is atrocious! The text is right- and left-justified, but sometimesyouendupwithalinewithnospacesatall! I highly recommend the book, however, for the content.
Oct 11, 2014 Emily rated it it was ok
Finished this book as a light reading in attempt to reconnect myself with my ancestry. The book was, honestly, a little dry but with interesting little nuggets smuggled in between. Very concise and easy to understand, but is not enough to feed the curious mind of a history student. It prompted me to re-watch Princess Pearl (Huanzhu Princess) series and taken my interest on old imperial chinese culture a little deeper. Refreshing.
Nov 07, 2013 Jana rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Informative and quite educational, this really helped a lot with some of my confusion about China's history and made me more curious to get a history book that would tackle this subject more thoroughly. Though I have to add, the edition I read was riddled with errors—thankfully, not typographical, but just the spacing wherethewordswouldgolikethis for some reason: a small error, to be sure, but annoying, nonetheless.
This book was fascinating and made me want to learn more. My only complaint has nothing to do with the author or the book, but with the copy editor. The tracking in multiple lines throughout the book was so overly condensed that words blended together and were hard to read. Very annoying, especially because the book itself is top-notch.
Sajid Hakeem
Jul 02, 2014 Sajid Hakeem rated it really liked it
A Beautiful book. Recommended for all history lovers
Oct 08, 2013 Crystal rated it it was amazing
I remember buying this book from book club back in primary school and I absolutely loved it, as there was few books written about Chinese history was written in English for a primary school kid to understand (or at least what I could find at the local library). So this was book was great!
Feb 26, 2013 Rick rated it liked it
Frequently too simple and far too rushed... but what do you expect from trying to cram thousands of years of some of the richest history of any culture on earth into a couple hundred pages of a tiny book?
May 08, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it
Fascinating. Concisely written. Historical facts about China, her dynasties, culture, technology, and trade. Plan on reading this a second time so I can remember more of it.
Jul 16, 2014 Kaethe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, history
I'm reading some of this aloud, and the KitKatPandaBatWolf is also reading this to herself. She would like everyone to know that she thinks its great.
Sep 09, 2009 Cori rated it it was amazing
This book was SO interesting. The author summarizes Chineses history from the beginning of emperors to current. I loved it. I was fascinated.
Jan 17, 2011 Lori rated it really liked it
Very good book for an interesting overview of Chinese history. It tells China's story without getting bogged down in dates, etc.
Jul 11, 2013 Kristina rated it liked it
Took me forever to read, but ultimately an interesting young-adultish history of China.
May 13, 2009 Pip rated it liked it
Shelves: kids-books
lots of great information about China, a bit dense, may be a bit dry for kids
Feb 01, 2011 Mark rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed the brief history and the proverbs
Oct 06, 2009 Snow rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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May rated it it was amazing
Feb 10, 2016
Marina marked it as to-read
Feb 03, 2016
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Adeline Yen Mah (Chinese: Yen Jun-ling; Pinyin: Mǎ Yán Jūnlíng; Yale (Cantonese): ma5 yim4 gwan1 ling4) (official birthday 30th November 1937, however real birthday not known, this is in fact her father's birthday) is a Chinese-American author and physician. She grew up in Tianjin, Shanghai and Hong Kong with an older sister, Lydia; three older brothers, Gregory, Edgar and James and a younger half ...more
More about Adeline Yen Mah...

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