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Tai-Pan Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 1986

4.6 out of 5 stars 384 customer reviews
Book 2 of 6 in the Asian Saga Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Unforgettable!”—Chicago Tribune

“A fabulous epic of the Far East that will disturb and excite you…a thrilling and enticing tale of adventure and human relationships…dramatic episodes, exotic vignettes and heady descriptive passages.” –Baltimore Sun

“Clavell is, as always, a matchless tale-spinner.”—Cosmopolitan

“Every five or six years there appears on the horizon a book so vast in scope, so peopled with bold, colorful characters, it eclipses other efforts…. Such a book is Tai-Pan.”Pittsburgh Press

“Grand entertainment...packed with action...gaudy and flanboyant with blood and sin, treachery and conspiracy, sex and murder...fresh and vigorous.” —New York Times

About the Author

James Clavell, who died in 1994, was a screenwriter, director, producer, and novelist born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Although he wrote the screenplays for a number of acclaimed films, including The Fly (1958), The Great Escape (1963), and To Sir With Love (1967), he is best known for his epic novels in his Asian Saga.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Dell (September 1, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440184622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440184621
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (384 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Z. Blume on April 29, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Unlike many of the previous reviewers, I have no particular connection to Asia or an extensive knowledge of Chinese history, rather I am merely a fan of exciting stories and great writing and if the novel is full of interesting facts, then all the better. Tai-Pan fits the bill.
It is an engaging story about the European community in China just after the British have taken control of Hong Kong. It centers on Dirk Struan, a manipulative, shrewd, and charismatic man who happens to be the most powerful trader in Asia. There is intrigue, violence, romance and tragedy, but this all adds flavor to the epic story of how the British controlled their first stronghold in Asia. Clavell does an amazing job of creating realistic characters and incorporaring facts about the time period and his knowledege of the culture. Despite being a fictional account of this era, I learned a great deal about China, British trade and sailing in the 1800's.
I would recommend this book to everyone who enjoys historical fiction or just great writing and good stories. Further, this book is at least as good as Shogun and is a critical component of the Asia Saga, so it is a must read for people who enjoy Clavell's other books.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The first time I read Tai Pan was in college 30 years ago. I picked it up reluctantly, despite a strong recommendation from a friend, because it was about China and Hong Kong about which I had little interest. But I read it nonetheless and was absolutely transfixed. I've just finished reading it again at age 54 and can heartily still recommend this book.

This is the story of the founding of Hong Kong as told through the fictional characters of Dirk Struan, his son Cullum, their arch-enemy Tyler Brock and many others. Dirk Struan is the Tai Pan (supreme leader) of the Noble House, the largest and strongest of the China traders. Tyler Brock is his sworn enemy since Struan first served aboard an English man-of-war and experienced the lash from Brock's hands as a "powder monkey" at Trafalgar aboard the 110-gunship Royal Soverign.

Clavell uses Struan as the embodiment of the best virtues of the English system with her rule of law and the Chinese system. Brock, while not without redeeming qualities, reflects some of the worst features of the English system. Struan is receptive to the virtues of the Chinese culture while remaining a patriotic Englishman.

Struan has acquired many of the habits of the Chinese including bathing 2-3 times a day (as opposed to the rest of the English who believe that bathing renders one susceptible to the "flux") wearing light cloths and boots, and many others. He takes a Chinese concubine, May-May, and has children by her. His eldest half caste son, Gordon Chen, from a previous concubine plays a major role as well.

Struan is no saint, particularly when viewed from the perspective of the 21st century, or for that matter even when viewed from the perspective of his own time.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I just finished reading Tai-Pan for the second time. The first time I read it was nine years ago. At that time I was sure it was one of the best epics ever written. Now with nine more years of wisdom I am convinced. Clavell writes a fascinating tale of ruthless men and women in 19th century Asia. The dialogue is at times witty and the ending is the best I have ever read. I am now faced with the grim task of trying to find another book to read that comes close to the grandeur of this novel.
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By A Customer on March 5, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Despite being overshdowed by it's suposedly better books in the Asian Saga, Tai-Pan is the best novel Clavell wrote. Having read all of the series more then once I can truly say that Tai-Pan is far better then Noble House and even Shogun. It's Clavell's shortest book(except King Rat) but still has all the magnificient plot lines. Dirk Struan is the Perfect Hero. He is not perfect but his power is felt even by the reader. Despite sevrel reviews that said that Clavell shouldn't have written in pidgin this from gives credabilty to the novel. The ending is Clavell's best, it is the perfect soultion and the book ends still in a climax. Tai-Pan is captiviting from the start and the 732 pages flow by as if they were just a few. I give this book 10 stars out of 5. A MUST READ
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This thoroughly enjoyable historical novel captures the atmosphere of China and Hong Kong in the mid 1800's. Dirk Struan, hero of this adventures, is a strongly written character who you can't help admiring and cheering on. I loved the way Clavell weaved together a compelling story with such descriptive details and historical facts that advance our understanding of characters and events. Because of this book, I read Jonathan Spence's history "God's Chinese Son", which I also recommend. I can't recommend the novel strongly enough for fans of historical fiction
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
In our age of cultural decadence, political correctness, contempt for Western Civilization and the general destruction of the "hero" as an ideal - there stand a few voices that recall a time when Men still understood what honor and virtue meant, and acted upon it.

James Clavell's Tai Pan is a book to read for all those starving for a vision of life possibilities and for the hero within us. Dirk Struan is a man who should be every boy's Father once in their lives, and for those of us not fortunate enough to know a man like this, Tai Pan fills the void perfectly.

While not living by an expressed written philosophy, Tai Pan Dirk Struan is a man who stands for reason, individualism, science, objective ethics and free trade. In essense, Dirk is a Classical Liberal or Humanist in the true sense of the word.

The story itself is a brilliant one and I find myself reading the book again every few years to remind myself of what a man Clavell was and what a wonderful world he created for us to live in.

P.S.
For those who believe that Clavell was a racist because he accurately transcribed what "Pidgin" (chinese-english lingo) sounded like, you are not reading the same book.
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