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The Forbidden City Hardcover – November 1, 1998

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Hardcover, November 1, 1998
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Editorial Reviews


Few can fail to wonder about what it was like to live and work in the palace in the days when all political power was concentrated there. This handsome volume...will provide fresh insights for the visitor or anyone curious about such matters. Its stunning photographs and illustrations suggest the coffee table, but the text is not just for skimming. Short but informative essays deal among other things with the history and layout of the palace; the role of the emperor and the ceremonial and symbolism associated with his office; the Jesuit fathers who infiltrated the system, valued for their scientific and artistic skills but not for their faith; and the private lives of the emperors, their consorts and concubines, and the hundreds of eunuchs and serving maids who kept the system running. -- Asian Affairs, Sir Robin McLaren, former British ambassador to China

About the Author

Born in Shanghai and educated in Hong Kong, Malaysia and England, May Holdsworth has been writing about China since 1979. She has written numerous articles about Beijing, Jiangsu and Sichuan for various books and periodicals. In 1994 she researched and wrote the script for the television documentary film on the Forbidden City broadcast worldwide by The Discovery Channel the following year. Caroline Courtauld is a writer specializing in China and Burma, published photographer; and documentary film producer and researcher. Her publications, including books on Burma, Hong Kong and China, have focused on Asian travel, history and culture. For five years she worked with Jonathan Dimbleby and Francis Gerard on a BBC documentary project about Hong Kong in the period up to the transfer of sovereignty to China. Joint works include The Hong Kong Story; covering the history of the colony, which was published by Oxford University Press just before the handover of the colony to China in 1997. Hu Chui, resident photographer of the Palace Museum, Beijing, joined the museum studio in late 1978. Since then, his work has been published in dozens of pictorial albums and illustrated magazines, and exhibited in the USA, Germany, the Netherlands and Italy.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 140 pages
  • Publisher: Odyssey Publishing; 357910864 edition (November 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9622175902
  • ISBN-13: 978-9622175907
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 11.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,537,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By C. R. Bates on October 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
If you want a coffee table book, then buy it. The photographs by Hu Chui are stunning, and the reproductions of Chinese scrolls and paintings are excellent.
However, the information about the Forbidden City is at the breakfast mush level - easy to digest but of little value. The information is superficial, and often inaccurate. Knowledgeable students of the Forbidden City will groan, and wince. It perpetuates blunders such as referring to the East Glory Gate as the East 'Flowery Gate,' and the Chinese advisor on eunuchs knows little about the subject. The book talks about emperors as if they all had the same personality and all did the same things.
Enjoy the pictures, but take the text with milk and sugar.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you are a fan of Chinese history or art, this is the book for you. I enjoyed this book because of the magnificent pictures, and ancient Chinese paintings depicted in it. Not only are the pictures interesting, but so is the text. It tells of......I guess you'll have to see for yourself! Great buy, all though I was afraid at first that I payed too much, after I recieved it those fears were put to rest.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jun Lee on September 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I had hoped to be reading about the Forbidden City-its origins, its designers, its layout, the function of the buildings and structures, the treasures it contained,the catastrophes it survived and so forth.
I was disappointed to find that only the first chapter was of some relevance to the Forbidden City. The rest of the chapters were devoted to the famous "inhabitants", the officers ranking system, concubines, eunuchs, the foreign priests and so forth.
The books saving grace is the breath-taking photography. But then some of the pictures I felt were rather irrelevant to the Forbidden City ie Yong Zheng's concubines, Kang Xi's various potraits.
In conclusion, this is a good book for browsing through the pictures, but not for the serious historian.
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