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My Country and My People Hardcover – January 1, 1938

14 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Halcyon House (January 1, 1938)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9971642050
  • ISBN-13: 978-9971642051
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.1 x 1.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,931,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Bibliophile on November 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book made headlines in America when it came out in the 1930's. For perhaps the first time a Chinese wrote a book in English about China and the Chinese, and the sympathetic reaction of many Americans to China's plight in the struggle against Japan made this book a bestseller. I still think it is a good book. It sets out in language that is still easy to read the Chinese mind, their history, philosophy, characteristics, etc. A good deal of the descriptions are the author's own opinions, inevitably, but it is a testament to the author's brilliant mind and perceptive eyes that much of the book is still valid today. Indeed, now that war, revolution, and communism are things of the past, the Chinese are reverting more and more to their old ways, both good and bad, and their old ways are what this book is about.
Pearl Buck, the first American woman to win the Nobel Literature Prize, was the one who persuaded Lin to write this book. Her faith in him is fully justified. Few indeed were native sons of China who were immersed in both Chinese and Western cultures. And Lin was one.
Given my interest in both Lin Yutang and JRR Tolkien, I cannot resist a comparison. There is no evidence that Lin and Tolkien knew each other, although both were philologists (linguists interested in the historical origins of words) living in the same period.
Their specialties were quite different, however. Tolkien was an expert in Old English, and was comfortable in many northern European languages, both old and modern. (He could even read Finnish!) Lin's expertise was in Chinese literature from the classical period, and what made him unique at the time was his almost native fluency in English (as well as in German, plus a couple of modern European languages).
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Peter Lee on September 4, 2005
Format: Unknown Binding Verified Purchase
I'm a Chinese American fluent in both Chinese and English and I think Mr. Lin did a phenomenal job of explaining the Chinese people and its culture to a Western audience in a very humorous way. I chuckled many times at all the contradictions he pointed out about the Chinese mind and even learned why sometimes my people act the way they do. I've bantered about to friends on the tyranny of family in the Chinese life. But Mr. Lin explained to me why and what that is and its consequences. A great read. One complaint: Mr. Lin tended to throw out names of historical and contemporary figures alike without fully explaining who they are. I was able to guess correctly half of them because of my heritage. But I think most Westerner would find this frustrating because they may be altogether puzzled at who is and why is this person cited.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Ever wondered what China was like before the "peoples" revolution? Here's an answer by a scholarly writer. This book is now out of print but shouldn't be! Beautifully written, and fully indexed; the best editions were printed in the mid 1930's. These were made so well that if you are fortunate to find one it will still be in good condition, because of the carefull crafting of the binding and covers, and also because of the good paper used.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Judith Clancy on May 12, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was not familiar with Lin Yu Tang until I read another book that referred to him.
China is a terrifically complex country with an astounding history, but Lin was able to define, explain, and shape this
country's past in an entirely robust and comprehensible manner. His understanding of European culture, religions and literature
was most impressive. He changed my view of China and its people
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Nora M Qudus on September 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a must read for anyone wanting to understand the history and people of China up to the era of Mao. Many times we forget how long China has been....it is contemporary to ancient Egypt, Greece, and was old when there was Rome. This country, its people and customs are unique when compared to other cultures. If you can get the book it is a must read for any history buff or researcher.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Y. zheng on April 13, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book that I have ever read through single word by single word. The author has deep understanding of Chinese culture and its people. No wonder it kept being reprinted again and again even now we are entering more modern stage of China. This book can live 100 years as it dug the root cause of the China society we see today. It is the best book in the market to help you acurately understanding Chinese people.

Lin has beautiful language to a question that may puzzel modern Chinese on where we Chinese come from. I truely enjoyed the reflection period while reading it. It apparently helped me to find "a hidden village with shaded willow and bright flowers in the deep mountain at the end of a creek trail".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gromer on June 5, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I paid full retail price for this on Amazon (about $11-12) and received a bootleg copy. Notice how the book cover is slightly off-center as pictured here. What I got was a cheap and nasty fake paperback edition of a legitimate old book. Somebody (not Amazon) is selling a print-on-demand copy of this 1930s book that they have scanned themselves. Some of the pages repeat, and the font sizes go up and down, which make for difficult reading. As for the substance of this book, it's mildly interesting for historians interested in 1930s commentary about China at the time, but it's not good for the lay reader as it gets rather boring. There is a lively introduction praising the book by Pearl S. Buck, and Lin Yutang has some brilliant passages that are often quoted (which drew me to read the book in its entirety), but if you are hoping that the entire book is entertaining, you would be disappointed. The prose is very dated and long-winded. You are better off checking this out from the library and skimming it. Don't waste your money buying a copy like I did.
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