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The Search for a Vanishing Beijing: A Guide to China's Capital Through the Ages Paperback – April 8, 2008
The Amazon Book Review
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From the Publisher
"The stories are what make the book a compelling read, regardless of whether or not you actually make it to the sites he is describing. Some are fact, some are myth, and many span the grey divide between the two." - Rebecca Kanthor, Far Eastern Economic Review
"An indefatigable explorer and raconteur, Aldrich has peeked into and poked around every nook and cranny of contemporary Beijing to reveal the city's rich and fascinating past. His book is a treasure box of curios lovingly recovered from a world now out of reach. It is an indispensable companion for all thoughtful visitors to China's capital. A brilliant achievement." - Dr. Michael J. Moser, author of Foreigners Within the Gates: The Legations at Peking
About the Author
M. A. Aldrich's interest in Chinese culture began more than 30 years ago. He is a graduate of the Foreign Service School of Georgetown University where he studied under Jesuit teachers who lived in China before the revolution of 1949. He later took a master's degree in History at SUNY at Stony Brook. After studying law at Columbia University, he has been an international commercial attorney in Greater China for 15 years. He works in the Beijing office of a London-based international law firm.
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Top Customer Reviews
Because the book contains a large amount of entertaining fiction, China-insider jokes, and even some false or outdated information, I do not recommend it for those who are in the first stages of learning about China. It would also be difficult to recommend this book to a casual reader. It often requires a discerning eye and a fair bit of judgement to decide when the author is joking or exaggerating, and when his sources or understanding are incorrect.
That said, I DO NOT blame the author for this. The introduction to this book makes it clear, this is not an academic work, it often does not cite sources, and the author acknowledges that contents ranges from factual, to speculative, to pure fantastical. With that in mind, it is a great read. For those with a bit of knowledge of China, its casual tone and commentary on life in China remain entertaining throughout. And the book does contain an impressive wealth of factual information within it... you just need to be able to tease it out and decide for yourself what to take seriously.
Certainly worth a read for the armchair traveler, but for anyone with a more than passing interest in Asia and Beijing, a larger segment of this will make for a read that is a reminder of the vanished Western views of Peking from the Legation Districts.