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China A to Z

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  67 ratings  ·  18 reviews
A practical and accessible guide to an ancient but rapidly changing culture Perfect for business and armchair travelers alike, China A to Z explains the customs, culture, and etiquette essential for any trip or for anyone wanting to understand this complex country. In one hundred brief, reader-friendly chapters, alphabetized by subject, China A to Z introduces a general au ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published September 25th 2007 by Plume Books (first published 2007)
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Many thanks to Penguin Group and Netgalley for the ARC.

This is an updated version, re-released in November of 2014. I can't compare this one to the original, since I didn't read it, but compared with many other introductory user-friendly travel guides about mainland China that I've read over the years, I'd rate this an 8 out of 10. The alphabetical setup makes for ease of reference (although when reading through cover-to-cover, as I did, this often proves rather jarring, since there's no transi
This is exactly what it announces itself to be – an A-Z guide to China, and I found it both engaging and informative. Inevitably the authors haven’t been able to cover their subjects in great depth, but as an overview it can’t be faulted, and in fact it covers each topic with admirable thoroughness and impartiality. An invaluable volume to take when travelling to the country, and a stepping-stone for further research. Excellent.
This is an updated 2014 edition
Jonathan H

For my October core book I read, China A to Z by May-lee Chai and Winberg Chai, which covers many things about China. The book starts from things that begin with the letter A, such as animals and architecture, and ends with things that start with the letter Z, such as Zhong Guo (the Chinese name for China) and Ziyi Zhang (one of China’s most famous actresses). The author’s main goal/message is to tell the reader information and history about China. The author also includes many customs that one
Amanda Wilson
I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a review:

Everything you need to know about China? You are going to need a much bigger book for that task! I have a great love for Chinese culture, specifically the older stuff and art...ok and tea, but we all know I am obsessed with the leaf. So most the books I read are about China from a whole different perspective, reading about more modern things and travel aspects is pretty interesting. I do not think this is an end all travel guide or eve
The sub-title of the book is "Everything You Need to Know to Understand Chinese Customs and Culture". In 292 pages?! Hahahahahahaha! Put the over ambitious subtitle aside before you start reading. The subtitle should be more like "A Few Valuable Nuggets of Information That Might Be Enough to Keep You From Making An Utter Fool of Yourself If You Are Traveling to China". This is really just the basics, a good way to set goals for further reading and study. I appreciated the frank presentation of t ...more
Paul Franco
As you might expect from the title, this book by May-lee Chai and Winberg Chai is intended to explain to the foreigner some of the facets of the most populous country in the world. It is by no means encyclopedic, as there are some topics that I thought should be touched on but were not. Still, there were plenty of useful explanations about things I’d wondered about, as well as topics that had never crossed my mind. In the end I felt as though I had definitely gotten to know the culture better, e ...more
Jenna Fisher
Good primer on all things China. And it's literally an A to Z guide aimed at helping you understanding China in a nutshell. Alphabetically ordered, each 'chapterlet' is only about a page or so long. This makes for a quick easy to read book. And you don't necessarily have to read it from cover to cover. It reads like the cultural section of any guidebook and does actually manage to give some good overview without being boring. A bit outdated in places but mostly pertinent, even 4 years after it w ...more
Lisa Findley
Written explicitly for American tourists on short trips to China (with a little for the businessperson as well), this book seems to hit the mark. People seem upset about the subtitle, but that's the publisher's fault, not the authors. It's clearly not everything you need to know about one of the oldest civilizations in the world, but it will hopefully get you well enough acquainted to avoid being an Ugly American when you visit. Or at least, I'm hoping that's what it'll do for me.
There are snippets that are nifty, but much of this seems to be specifically for travelers going to Beijing for the Olympics. Which I'm not, or rather, I didn't. Not terribly in-depth, but on the other hand there've been at least six tags that I plan to research further- most especially the ethnic Moso people, known in historical writings as the Country of Women. See? I wasn't even looking for opponents of patriarchy yet still they find me....
Dina Reynoso
What a wonderful, informative and entertaining read. The information on China is presented in short 1-2 page chapters on a variety of topics such as family, one child policy, the Cultural Revoluion, shopping, etc. I was also fortunate enough to be reading this book as I was traveling through China this summer. If you are at all interested in China but don't want to have to take on a dense, dry history book I highly recommend this book.
Very readable book with short chapters on the culture, history, social mores, politics, etiquette, pop culture, etc. of China. Authors are first and second generation Chinese Americans and write from first-hand experience. Highly recommended for the armchair traveler and (I'm hoping) for anyone planning to visit China--I will let you know if the information holds water after I return.
Meghan Gross
Oh my word. Recommended to me by a friend and if you've ever gone to China, this is a MUST read. It's full of interesting information and made me laugh quite a few times at the things the author experienced. I read it last time I went to China while I was there and it was a little too surreal.
I like the helpful pronunciations. It was kind of weird reading one chapter talk about something and then the next just repeated it almost word for word.

Oh well there were two people writing it.

If I ever do go visit I will reread this book or buy it and take it with me.
A very short book, especially considering the title boasts that it includes "everything you need to know about Chinese culture." However, what information was included was of good quality.
Mina Soare
Regardless of the overreaching subtitle, a good book for beginners, easy to browse because of the dictionary structure and pleasant in writing style.
Feb 06, 2011 Meghan marked it as to-read-a-h  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Meghan by: Mark
Curious to see if this would be useful for my husband's workplace.
Aj Host
Practical guide that really helped my transfer to Beijing.
Great info on the customs of china
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