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HEART OF THE DRAGON Hardcover – May 6, 1985


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 281 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin; Mti edition (May 6, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039535336X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395353363
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 8.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #746,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

YA Promoted as a companion to the PBS series of the same name, this beautifully written and well-organized book may be enjoyed in its entirety. The author explores 11 areas of Chinese life: remembering (emperors), believing, marrying, meditating, eating, living, working, correcting, understanding (the body and the universe), creating (fine arts) and trading. Lovely and recent color photographs embellish each chapter, whether they show a family eating a simple meal or the traditional customs of a remote region. Pencil and charcoal drawings from past centuries show a variety of scenes also. The chapters are well-defined in scope and manageable in length. Clearly and in a straightforward style, Clayre blends the realities of modern China with a great deal of information about its past. The author acknowledges his debt to the Chinese authorities for granting freedom of movement throughout China and for the assistance of the Chinese news services. He has been careful not to offend his hosts; consequently, the tone of the book reflects a definite party line, and the brutal subjugation of the people to the current political ruling body is not emphasized. Fascinating reading for YAs in need of up-to-date information or for those who simply want to read about a poorly understood section of the world. Susan Meck, PGCMLS, Md.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By readersf on January 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Heart of the Dragon was issued as the companion piece to a BBC documentary series of the same name that was aired in 1984 or thereabouts. Since Alasdair Clayre, the author, was producer, writer and chief director of the series the correlation of the two projects would seem to be perfect: this is no mere tie-in, but an outstanding book in its own right. The connection with the series means that the book is extensively illustrated. That may lead some readers to think that this is a "coffee table book", but they would be mistaken. Clayre, in a series of subject chapters (Living, working, cosmology, etc.) sets out a tremendous amount of information. Having read a great deal about China, and traveled there frequently, I expected very little from this book. To my surprise I found it very informative, combining broad overviews and succinct summaries with interesting specific bits of information. The result is a very good textbook of Chinese culture and recent history. The editorial review above implies that this book is some sort of propaganda piece. I cannot agree. Clayre is very critical of Mao, and indeed, his assesment of much of 20th century Chinese history is more acerbic than that of my old teacher, Chalmers Johnson. You can't get much more Cold Warrior than that.

I think that the book does slightly overemphasize China's past accomplishments and Western misunderstandings, but this is a very slight reservation. At 20 cents, this is a steal. Buy it or get it from your library.

Alisdair Clayre spent 3 years writing and producing this book. A fellow of All Souls' College, Oxford,, and a protege of Isaiah Berlin, he writes beautiful mandarin prose--- oxbridge mandarin, that is. The series went on to win an Emmy, the first foreign series so honored. Clayre did not live to see it. Apparently afraid his work would not be appreciated, he committed suicide a few days before the first broadcast.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By LaraS on October 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Having interest in Asian culture, I found this book lacking strategy to share unique Asian culture with the reader. The book mostly stresses on the political difficulties the country encounted during Western and Eastern invasion and instability of the regions. The grammatical structure of the chapters is crammed with overrun sentences and lack of logical structure that makes it distracting and difficult to read to most native speakers. While illustrations appeal to romanticism and beauty of the art scene contrasted with harsh photographs of certain regions, I would not recommend this book as a verifiable historical resource or conclusion of the Chinese culture.
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