The list author says: "No matter where you are in the world, if you turn on the TV or open a newspaper you're almost guaranteed to come across another top story about the Middle Kingdom. The subject might have to do with 2008's Beijing Olympics, the 2010 Shanghai World Expo or China's phenomenal economic boom and the huge challenges that come with it. It might be the growing prestige of Chinese art and film or the latest architectural marvel to make the scene in Shanghai or Beijing. It could be wilderness treks in Tibet and Yunnan...
Fortunately, it's never been easier to visit China and see for yourself how this ancient land—famous in the annals of history for its sages and wandering poets, humble peasants and powerful emperors, golden dynasties and periods of upheaval and rebellion—is transforming itself into a modern nation squarely in the center of twenty-first century global affairs.
Given all that media exposure, if it seems cliché to cast China as a land of contrasts—the old versus new, the capitalist and the communist, the third-world rural village and the high-tech metropolis—it's only because it's true. From within the ancient walls of the Forbidden City or the majestic heights of the Summer Palace you'll see Beijing's gleaming new towers stretching toward the heavens. You can reach the once remote Tibetan capital of Lhasa via a new high-tech and high-altitude train, passing in comfort through harsh yet beautiful terrain only recently accessible to foreign travelers. Shanghai's colonial-era Bund architecture is dwarfed by the looming space-age skyline of Pudong. If you wander through the classical Chinese landscape of Guilin, with its green mist-shrouded limestone peaks towering above fertile rice paddies and you're as likely to come across a robed monk as a mobile-toting businessman.
Following are the ten best China travelogues, written by authors - both foreign and Chinese - who know China (its geography AND its culture) better than anyone else."
"On his latest jaunt, Theroux takes almost a year to crisscross China, traveling on 40 trains from the southern tropics to the wastelands of the Gobi in western Xinjiang to the dense metropolises of Shanghai, Beijing, and Canton."
"Over the course of 2 years and 35,000 miles, photojournalist Tom Carter captured it ALL on film. Carter's anthropological-like study of China stands apart in its genre, as it focuses expressly on the PEOPLE of China."
"Winchester chronicles his adventures across China along the 3,964-mile River. Employing nearly every mode of transportation, including boat, train, jeep and shoe leather--Winchester recalls his passionate exploration of the countryside, while providing important and engaging historical information."
"National Public Radio China correspondent Gifford journeyed for six weeks on China's Mother Road, Route 312, from its beginning in Shanghai for nearly 3,000 miles to a tiny town in what used to be known as Turkestan."
"Veteran traveler Troost embarks on an extended tour of "the new wild west," China. Troost travels from the megalopolis of Beijing to small, remote trails in the hinterlands, the fabled Shangri-La and all points in between, allowing for a substantive look at an incredibly complex culture."
"We join Earnshaw on a walk due west from Shanghai to Tibet, reliving his encounters with energetic youth, old men who reminisce about the times of Chairman Mao and police who still think that it's illegal for foreigners to be in China."
"In this book, Thubron takes us on a tour of China as it was when he visited it in 1987. The result is an interesting overview of Chinese society as it was just opening up to foreigners after the long periods of war and revolution."
"In 1983, squirming under constant government scrutiny and mourning a failed marriage, writer and photographer Jian abandons his home in Beijing to journey to China's western border with little more than a change of clothes, two bars of soap, a notebook, a camera and Whitman's Leaves of Grass. It is the beginning of an arduous three-year voyage."
"Ten Thousand Miles Without a Cloud is a beautifully written account of Sun Shuyun's journey to retrace the steps of one of the most popular figures in Chinese history -- the monk Xuanzang, who travelled to India searching for true Buddhism."