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181. Moscow 1812: Napoleon's Fatal
182. Beyond the Java Sea: Art of Indonesia's
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183. An Historical Atlas of Central
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184. Storyteller's Daughter
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185. The Good Women of China : Hidden
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186. Recarving China's Past : Art,
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187. Chinese Architecture : A Pictorial
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188. Nicholas and Alexandra
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189. Understanding Vietnam
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190. The Koreans : Who They Are, What
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191. Armenia : A Historical Atlas
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192. The Cambridge History of China:
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193. The Camera and the Tsars: The
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194. The Search for Modern China
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196. India (Eyewitness Books)
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197. Dispatches
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198. They Marched Into Sunlight: War
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199. Voices From Chernobyl (Lannan
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200. The Battle for L'Vov July 1944:

181. Moscow 1812: Napoleon's Fatal March
by Adam Zamoyski
list price: $29.95
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Asin: 0061075582
Catlog: Book (2004-08)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Sales Rank: 5003
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Book Description

Napoleon's invasion of Russia and his ensuing terrible retreat from Moscow played out as military epic and human tragedy on a colossal scale -- history's first example of total war. The story begins in 1811, when Napoleon dominated nearly all of Europe, succeeding in his aim to reign over the civilized world like a modern-day Charlemagne. Part of his bid for supremacy involved destroying Britain through a continental blockade, but the plan was stymied when Russia's Tsar Alexander refused to comply. So he set out to teach the Tsar a lesson by intimidation and force. What followed was a deadly battle that would change the fate of modern Europe.

By invading Russia in 1812, Napoleon was upping the ante as never before. Once he sent his vast army eastward, there was no turning back: he was sucked farther and farther into the one territory he could not conquer. Trudging through a brutal climate in hostile lands, his men marched on toward distant Moscow. But this only galvanized the Russians, who finally made a stand at the gates of the city. The ensuing outbreak was a slaughter the likes of which would not be seen again until the first day of the Somme more than a century later.

What remained of Napoleon's army now had to endure a miserable retreat across the wintry wastes of Russia, while his enemies aligned against him. This turned out to be a momentous turning point: not only the beginning of the end for Napoleon's empire, but the rise of Russia's influence in world affairs. It also gave birth to Napoleon's superhuman legend -- the myth of greatness in failure that would inspire the Romantic poets as well as future leaders to defy fate as he had done.

In this gripping, authoritative account, Adam Zamoyski has drawn on the latest Russian research, as well as a vast pool of firsthand accounts in French, Russian, German, Polish, and Italian, to paint a vivid picture of the experiences of soldiers and civilians on both sides of the conflict. He shows how the relationship between Napoleon and Tsar Alexander came to distort their alliance and bring about a war that neither man wanted. Dramatic, insightful, and enormously absorbing, Moscow 1812 is a masterful work of history.

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182. Beyond the Java Sea: Art of Indonesia's Outer Islands
by Paul Michael Taylor, Lorraine V. Aragon
list price: $65.00
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Asin: 0810931125
Catlog: Book (1991-05-01)
Publisher: Harry N Abrams
Sales Rank: 1104445
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183. An Historical Atlas of Central Asia (Handbook of Oriental Studies/Handbuch Der Orientalistik - Part 8: Uralic & Central Asian Studies, 9)
by Yuri Bregel
list price: $156.00
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Asin: 9004123210
Catlog: Book (2003-07-01)
Publisher: Brill Academic Pub
Sales Rank: 525320
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184. Storyteller's Daughter
list price: $24.00
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Asin: 0375415319
Catlog: Book (2003-09-16)
Publisher: Knopf
Sales Rank: 29137
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The vivid, often startling memoir of a young woman shaped by two dramatically disparate worlds. Saira Shah is the English-born daughter of an Afghan aristocrat, inspired by his dazzling stories to rediscover the now lost life their forebears presided over for nine hundred years within sight of the minarets and lush gardens of Kabul and the snow-topped mountains of the Hindu Kush. Part sophisticated, sensitive Western liberal, part fearless, passionate Afghan, falling in love with her ancestral myth–chasing Afghanistan–Shah becomes, at twenty-one, a correspondent at the front of the war between the Soviets and the Afghan resistance. Then, imprisoning herself in a burqa, she risks her life to film Beneath the Veil, her acclaimed record of the devastation of women’s lives by the Taliban. Discovering her extended family, discovering a world of intense family ritual, of community, of male primacy, of arranged marriages, and finding at last the now war-ravaged family seat, she discovers as well what she wants and what she rejects of her extraordinary heritage. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Multifaceted Jewel of a Book
Saira Shah's stunning new memoir is one of those rare and wonderful books that's hard to classify because it touches the reader in so many different ways. A jewel of many facets -- from high adventure to geopolitics to the wisdom of the ages -- it takes us on a journey of the human spirit as compelling as it is rewarding. The setting of the book is Afghanistan, a country that, despite its recent prominence on the world stage, remains for most of us little known and much misunderstood. Shah opens up Afghanistan for the reader, revealing it to be far more complex and culturally rich than the evening news would lead us to believe; and in so doing, she opens up much, much more. An acclaimed London-based journalist whose powerful television documentary "Beneath the Veil" exposed the horrors of the Taliban to the world just prior to Sept. 11, Shah comes from an accomplished Afghan family of ancient pedigree. Her brother, Tahir Shah, is a celebrated travel writer, and her father, Idries Shah, who died in 1996, was a well-known Sufi philosopher whose 30-plus books have been translated into a dozen languages. But growing up in England, where her family had settled, Saira Shah's main contact with her Afghan heritage was through the stories her father told her and her siblings -- timeless stories of fairytale mountain landscapes peopled by proud and fearless warriors upholding a centuries-old code of honor. THE STORYTELLER'S DAUGHTER is built around her search for her own identity as she attempts to reconcile the romantic Afghanistan of her father's tales with the country's reality after years of devastating civil war. In gripping fashion tempered with gentle humor, it recounts her clandestine forays into Afghanistan with the mujahidin as a fledgling reporter in the mid-1980s, as well as her equally risky trips there in 2001 to film "Beneath the Veil" and its follow-up documentary, "Unholy War." In the process, it sheds considerable light on the conflict that has ravaged that country for decades, as well as on the upsurge of Islamic fundamentalism -- quite alien to Afghanistan's moderate, Sufi-influenced tradition -- that has given rise to al Qaeda. But the book goes far beyond those things in scope and appeal and, like the very best literature, serves as a lens through which the reader can gain a greater self-understanding. Thought-provoking, moving and beautifully written, THE STORYTELLER'S DAUGHTER is, among many other things, a timely reminder that we can rarely fit the world's complexities into the narrow confines of our own preconceived notions and oversimplifications.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Valley of Song that will change you
Saira Shah continues the tradition of her esteemed family with a compelling and personal travelogue and object lesson that meets the high standards set by her grandfather, grandmother, and father (Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah, Morag Murray Abdullah, and Idries Shah). This book is necessary reading for all Americans, considering our relationship with her ancestral homeland of Afghanistan over the last twenty-plus years. Those who seek easy answers, who rely on programmatic belief-structures and simplistic views of the complex phenomena that are human nature and culture... are, as usual, advised to seek elsewhere. The combination of ancient wisdom, colorful people and locales, horrific atrocities, and the hope that is endemic to humanity despite everything... is wonderfully realized here, and will change the reader, much like the characters in a story Ms. Shah presents and from which the title of this review is taken. I believe it remains incorrect to jump to any conclusions about her being placed in some sort of jeopardy or other by her father's ideas; first, because it was her interpretation of those ideas, not the ideas themselves, that led to the jeopardy; second, because her father made it clear that if she grew up she would not need to go; third, because he warned her of a need to compromise or she might get herself killed; fourth, because, given his participation in the struggle against the Soviets, it would have been hypocritical for him to stop his adult daughter doing what she could about the situation; fifth, because her father did not believe in forbidding as a teaching method, and it would have been inconsistent for him to use it in this case. Given the time span and events involved in this narrative, it goes almost without saying that things were omitted; it is unknown, perhaps even to the author, what steps were taken by others, and at whose behest, to minimize the risk of her capture or death. But what is here rings of truth, and is more than sufficient; indeed, it is excellent.

5-0 out of 5 stars Exciting and Enlightening
This book is both a series of tales of travel in Pakistan and Afghanistan as well as the personal memoir of a young woman in search of the Afghanistan of her father's stories. It is studded with unforgetable characters and situations, a world away from typical western concerns. The writing is excellent. The author is fully engaged intellectually and emotionally, and has the ability to inspire that engagement in her readers as well. Further, anyone with a familiarity with her father Idries Shah's writings will find it of great interest that he left at least one member of his own family struggling to understand his broad claims about the wisdom and nobility of the Afghan people (see his Kara Kush, for instance). His ideas led his daughter, per her own admission, into some terribly dangerous situations during the Afghan conflicts. ... Read more

185. The Good Women of China : Hidden Voices
list price: $13.00
our price: $9.75
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Asin: 1400030803
Catlog: Book (2003-11-11)
Publisher: Anchor
Sales Rank: 8537
Average Customer Review: 4.42 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

When Deng Xiaoping’s efforts to “open up” China took root in the late 1980s, Xinran recognized an invaluable opportunity. As an employee for the state radio system, she had long wanted to help improve the lives of Chinese women. But when she was given clearance to host a radio call-in show, she barely anticipated the enthusiasm it would quickly generate. Operating within the constraints imposed by government censors, “Words on the Night Breeze” sparked a tremendous outpouring, and the hours of tape on her answering machines were soon filled every night. Whether angry or muted, posing questions or simply relating experiences, these anonymous women bore witness to decades of civil strife, and of halting attempts at self-understanding in a painfully restrictive society. In this collection, by turns heartrending and inspiring, Xinran brings us the stories that affected her most, and offers a graphically detailed, altogether unprecedented work of oral history. ... Read more

Reviews (24)

5-0 out of 5 stars What a wonderful, heartbreaking, fascinating book!
Once I picked up the book and began reading, I couldn't put it down. The stories of these women who are so different, and yet so much like us, made me weep, laugh, and be astonished at their lives and history. Xinran Xue is a gifted writer who captures the poignancy of these womens' lives, whom she came to know through her radio program in China. In a time when most reporters would have left well-enough alone, she goes out into her world to interview women from all walks of life, and expresses their stories of incest, brutality, achievement, and daily survival with a simplicity that is dynamic and powerful. This book is a MUST-HAVE for anyone's library.

4-0 out of 5 stars A must read for all feminists
Once I started reading, I could not stop until I finished it. The true stories of the lives, experiences, pain and suffering of the women described by the author are unforgettable. I am a second generation Chinese American, raised in Chinatown in Los Angeles. I was raised watching movies from China and Hong Kong where the stories were always about the suffering of unnoticed, unappreciated women. I have always been grateful that I was not born in China. Members of my family had to live through the nightmare of the "Cultural Revolution" and my aunt who was persecuted and sent to the countryside for "reeducation" because she was the daughter of a merchant, died as a result of starvation and neglect.
The only criticism I have of the book is the relentlessness of the sadness and misery of these women's lives. It makes the reading hard work. I hope the author is encouraged to share more true stories that are not always so tragic and depressing.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Modern" China
This startling collection of stories offers a remarkable insight into the lives of women in the country that threatens to become the most powerful in the world in the 21st century. Communism promised equality for all in China, but like all political systems it is no match for traditions and customs that have lasted for thousands of years. These stories painfully explore what happens when the modern and the traditional collide, crushing women in the middle.

Living in a culture where revealing the most personal aspects of our lives on TV is a daily occurance, it is hard to envision how revolutionary Xinran's radio show "Words on the Night Breeze" was in China. For the first time, women had an anonymous way to tell their stories to the world, and what spilled out was heartbreaking. There were stories of true disaster, like the mothers who suffered through a devastating earthquake and watched their families swallowed up whole. But these things happen in every country. Much more disturbing to me were the stories of arranged marriages by party officials--in this nation of "comrades," a woman still has no choice but to stay with a husband who is lord and master, and treats her much as her female ancestors must have been treated long ago. Or the story of the young girl who is abused for years by her father--when her mother finds out about it she is told to put up with it to avoid angering him! Stories about the massive cruelties of the Cultural Revolution abound--I never cease being surprised and shocked at the pain this country visited on itself during the rule of Mao in the 1960's.

Surely things are changing, one asks. But after reading about the university student I wasn't so sure. Women in university are the cream of the crop. But Xinran is shocked to learn that many choose what sounds like a new twist on an ancient tradition--they become "personal secretaries" to high powered businessmen, some foreigners, who need help navigating the Chinese system. They are totally cynical and businesslike, and view these relationships as a way to earn money and security. Woe to the woman who falls in love with her boss, however--she is cut off as cleanly as a concubine might have been abandoned in ancient times.

This is a painful, sobering book. Progress and freedom are elusive concepts, and again and again after reading of other parts of the world, I realize how lucky Americans are that we got to "start fresh" a mere 200+ years ago. This is a wonderfully written book, well deserving of 5 stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars Page Turner Alert!!!!!!!!
This book was written so beautifully. It was very sad but depicted the strength of not only Chinese women but the Human spirit in general.
I have an adopted daughter from China and I will give her this book when she is old enough to understand it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good book but just one point to make...
The Good Women of China is wonderful collection of vignettes that each give the reader a glimpse of what it is like to must have been like to be a woman in modernizing China. Xinran met each of these women through her radio show. Each of their stories paints a painful picture of the hardships that they continue to face throughout their day-to-day living.
However, in the chapter "What Chinese Women Believe", I was sad to see "Falun Gong" so inaccurately portrayed, as I knew that her words would affect readers, who may not ever read another source. I am a Swedish reader and I have practiced Falun Gong for two years now. Falun Gong is a popular qigong practice that people do in over 60 countries worldwide. It is based on the values of Truthfulness, Compassion and Forbearance. As I understand it, the aim of the practice, as explained by the founder, Li Hongzhi, is to do your best to embody these three principles everyday and in everything you do. The practice has truly changed my heart and I feel that I have become a much kinder and considerate person as a result. My health has also vastly improved as a result of practicing it.
Unfortunately, practitioners in China are currently suffering terrible persecution, as I write this, because the number of practitioners rose to between 70 and 100 million by 1998 (almost a thirteenth of China's current population). Jiang Zemin, former Chinese leader, after failing to win popularity similar to those of his predecessors, Mao Ze Dong and Deng Xiao Ping, initiated the persecution out of jealousy at Falun Gong's popularity, vowing to "Defame their reputations, bankrupt them financially and destroy them physically."
The US government has already passed two resolutions condemning the persecution (H.Con. Res. 118 & 503). Jiang is now facing lawsuits in 13 different countries for "genocide and crimes against humanity," as are several of his main "accomplices", including Luo Gan, head of China's gestapo-like "6-10 Office."
The inaccuracies in the woman's account are likely due to the lack of accurate information regarding the practice in China in general. Since the persecution began in July 1999, the state-run media has been utilized to vilify Falun Gong on a daily basis. Falun Gong books are burned and web sites and blocked, making it very difficult to obtain accurate information. This might explain why the author seemed to know more about the practice than the woman giving the account.
. I hope I have included enough information to give at least a sense of both the nature of this wonderful practice and the scope of this human rights disaster. However, just in case, more information can be found if you are interested at -
Otherwise, I found Xin Ran's book to be a good read. Well done!
Take care and good luck book shopping. There is many a fine one her at J.
Jacob :D ... Read more

186. Recarving China's Past : Art, Archaeology and Architecture of the "Wu Family Shrines"
by Cary Y. Liu, Michael Nylan, Anthony Barbieri-Low
list price: $75.00
our price: $75.00
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Asin: 0300107978
Catlog: Book (2005-05-11)
Publisher: Other Distribution
Sales Rank: 187161
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Book Description

The “Wu Family Shrines,” one of the most important cultural monuments of early China, comprise approximately fifty stone slabs from the so-called Wu cemetery in Shandong province. Depicting emperors and kings, heroic women, filial sons, and mythological subjects, these famous carved and engraved reliefs may have been intended to reflect such basic themes as loyalty to the emperor, filial piety, and wifely devotion; centuries later, they vividly bring to life the art, social conditions, and Confucian ideology of the Eastern Han.
This generously illustrated book examines the stone slabs and their rubbings as artifacts with a complex cultural history from the second century to the present, and addresses questions about the traditional identification of the structures as Han dynasty shrines of the Wu family. Written by a team of distinguished scholars in the fields of Chinese art and history, the book includes a novel examination of Han burial items in relation to burial belief, pictorial carvings, and funerary architecture.

... Read more

187. Chinese Architecture : A Pictorial History (Dover Books on Architecture)
by Liang Ssu-ch'eng
list price: $26.95
our price: $17.79
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Asin: 0486439992
Catlog: Book (2005-03-24)
Publisher: Dover Publications
Sales Rank: 74685
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

More than 240 rare photographs and drawings highlight this excellent pictorial record and analysis of Chinese architectural history. Based on years of unprecedented field studies by the author, the illustrations depict many of the temples, pagodas, tombs, bridges, and imperial palaces comprising China’s architectural heritage. An excellent reference for students of architecture and Far-Eastern cultures; required reading for anyone interested in Chinese architecture. 152 halftones, 94 diagrams.
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars This was the pioneer
Liang Sicheng is among one of the most outstanding Chinese scholars that I admire and respect deeply. As a young man,the beauty of Chinese architecture inspired him to be the first person who studied traditional Chinese architecture scientifically with western methods.After Liang graduated from U.Penn., he moved to Harvard and registered under Graduate School of Art& Science, where he chose the subject "Chinses Architecture". Because there had almost no references in the area, he promised his professor that he will back to China to collect first hand data, and than back to US to finish his study.
The rest of his story is unbelievably dramatic.( You can find more details in <> by Wilma Fairbank)

I am very glad for the reprint of this cheaper edition, this is the book that every historian of Chinese architecture should have.Highly recommended to Chinese historians as well as architecture lover. ... Read more

188. Nicholas and Alexandra
list price: $18.00
our price: $12.24
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Asin: 0345438310
Catlog: Book (2000-02-01)
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Sales Rank: 17308
Average Customer Review: 4.78 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (73)

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply Excellent
The story of Nicholas and Alexandra has all the elements of a great novel: complex characters, plot twists, and an exciting conclusion. But, it's all true. Robert Massie wrote this history in 1967, but it is still relevant to today. In these days of democracy, it is enlightening to learn about the times when monarchy and autocracy were the words of the day. Robert Massie's book is excellently written. It is consistently clear, and at all times a pleasure to read. The biography has a wide scope, it covers just about everything relating to the Tsar and the Tsaritsa from the time of their marriage to the time of their death. You don't often see biographies of two people in one book. But to understand Nicholas, you must understand Alexandra. And, by the end of this book, you will have a better undserstanding of why events played out the way they did.

5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book
The story of Nicholas and Alexandra the last Tsar And Tsarina of Russia is one of the most Tragic love stories the world has ever known. Their glorious begining and their horrifying end, still continues to facinate thousands of people today. This book is like a journey back through time, taking you directly into the world of the Russian Imperial family. It's actually like you are living their lives day by day.
Massie has done a wonderful job in depicting the life of Nicholas and Alexandra. The books text is well researched and easy to read. You can breeze from chapter to chapter with complete understanding of what you have read. The text is also well balanced between political aspects of their life as well as personal aspects. Some romanov books are way to political and deal to much with the difficulties concerning government in Russia. The book stays on task and makes you want to keep reading.
I could honestly not put the book down, it's really that good. It's so rich and well written. The only part of the book that can be misleading is the final chapter, when the family is actually executed. But that can be forgiven for when this book was originally written there was not alot of information avalible concerning their death. Massie makes up for this in his book THE ROMANOVS: THE FINAL CHAPTER, which is another must read. No Romanov library is complete without this book. to read it is to grasp a better understanding of Nicholas and Alexandra.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sad end of a kind man
Why go for fiction when you can get a riveting true story like what happened to the Romanovs? The book starts with Nicholas' unexpected coronation as Tsar in 1894, and slowly but surely the story unfolds towards the gruesome end 25 years later. The saddening thing about this episode in history is that despite Rasputin, despite the heir Alexis with his hemophilia, despite the Empress' foilies, I left the book believing that the Tsar and his whole family got killed because he was just too kind and humble to make the tough decisions that Russia required during those turbulent times. If you consider Stalin, a cynic may argue that evil pays.

5-0 out of 5 stars A well researched, informative and entertaining peice!
First reccomended to me by a Professor of mine, Massie's work reveals all the intimate details and crucial historical story lines that even a novice of the Russian Revolutionary history would grasp to understand the life of the last Imperial Highnesses. From the infamous Bloody Sunday to the love letters that were exchanged between Nicholas and Alexandra the book was clearly exhaustively researched and also gives a touch of real emotion which is magnafied by the authors own personal experiences with the terrible disease of hemophelia. Grandoise as this story is it might well have been fiction, tragically it is not! As sad as the historical truths presented in the pages are, Massie writes words that flow and are easy to understand. I would reccomend this book for anyone looking for a story so incredible and emotionally raw that it had to be true or to anyone who wants to make some sense out of the mysticism of this part of intriging Russian history.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Majestic Work of History
"Nicholas and Alexandra" is a fantastic history book that I can thoroughly recommend to all readers. The book is truly "unputdownable" and if it were not a history book, it could almost have read as a novel.

The end of the Romanov dynasty is a work of tragedy. Here we have this closely bound intimate family playing out a drama against the backdrop of the First World War and the Russian Revolution. Yet tragedy almost becomes farce when the role of Rasputin is considered. The Czarina is quite spellbound by the man despite the damage that his decisions have for the family and the dynasty.

In "Nicholas and Alexandra", we see the unfolding of the downfall of autocracy which, in due course, would have been inevitable. The First World War simply accelerated the process. Yet while we should shed no tears for the fall of autocrats, the rise of an even more vile autocracy under Lenin heaps tragedy upon tragedy. The history of modern Russia is tragedy writ large.

Robert K Massie covers the events leading to the execution of the royal family in great detail but without ever deluging the reader with arcane facts that detract from the picture that he paints. The end result is a work of substance and colour.

I emphatically recommend this book to all readers of modern history. Robert K Massie has excelled! ... Read more

189. Understanding Vietnam
by Neil L. Jamieson
list price: $24.95
our price: $24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0520201574
Catlog: Book (1995-03-01)
Publisher: University of California Press
Sales Rank: 47729
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (6)

1-0 out of 5 stars Understanding Vietnamese writers
I bought this hoping to learn more about the Vietnamese people and their history. I got bogged down with all the poetry and prose quoted by the writer. While he brushes off the importance of the battle of Dien Bien Phu in a couple of lines; he drones on quoting (translating) obscure Vietnamese writers until the reader becomes weary. His premise seems to be that if you understand some writer (who he thinks is interesting) and attach importance to what he said then you will understand Vietnam. His annoying treatment of Yin and Yang finally caused me to put the book down and look for another way to understand Vietnam. If you like words such as "efficacy" and "entropy" you will love this writer; if such words irritate you, give this book a pass.

5-0 out of 5 stars WOW
This book's focus on contemporary Vietnamese literary sources through the years makes it absolutely unique in the field. Its blend of straight history narrative and multiple-voice literature excerpts fleshes out Vietnamese society in a way that was sorely needed in the field. To those well-read in Asian studies: this book can almost be seen as a Vietnam analog to Patricia Ebrey's book "Chinese Civilization: A Sourcebook," which is a collection of contemporary Chinese sources through history.

The history is instructive and concise, with little excess prose. Jamieson writes in an eminently readable style, and focuses on the most interesting events in order to keep the reader from being bored. He does a pretty good job of giving both Northern and Southern Vietnamese viewpoints, although he does focus a little more than would be preferable on South Vietnam, especially in the later parts of the book. The twentieth century chapters do a better job than almost any book on the market in focusing on the Vietnamese, rather than on the multi-decade war in which they fought.

My only complaint is that the extended yin/yang analogy used to explain societal trends was not very helpful. On the whole, though, I'm really impressed.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent!!! Very accurate!!! Must Read!!!!!!!!
I think this book is amazing! Jamieson accuately protrays Vietnam and Vietnamese culture through the eyes and views of the Vietnamese in a way never before written by a Westerner. He is articulate of the moods and feelings faceing the Vietnamese, well educated in the arts and literature of Vietnam, understands the importance to the core family structure, and scholarly in his research of what it means to be Vietnamese. I highly recommend this book if you want to understand the Vietnamese people who live in Vietnam, in the US, or anywhere...

5-0 out of 5 stars Outstanding.
This is a somewhat difficult book to understand, although it turns out to be a gem.

The author sets out to demonstrate that Vietnamese society, history, and culture from 1700 to 1990 revolve around the yin and yang system. While harmony derives from a balance between these two elements, an imbalance on the other hand results in revolution and war. The forces, which have been pulling the Vietnamese community apart since 1920, came to a head-on battle in 1945-50.

During the 1954-1975 war, the northern yang being stronger and more refined than the southern one led to a northern invasion and collapse of South Vietnam. The hegemony and repression of the north, however, caused a violent reaction of the southern yin during the post 1975 years: exodus of hundreds of thousands of boat people, and refusal of farmers to participate in the collectivization of the agriculture causing a decrease in productivity. Those who could not escape survived by peddling their belongings at flea markets, which over a period of time grew into a vibrant capitalistic system thanks in part to the money sent home by relatives abroad, especially in the U.S. A decade later, the southern economy rebounded while the northern counterpart floundered. This led to a reversal of the dogmatic northern policy and implementation of the "doi moi" policy in 1985.

The author also suggests that happiness and prosperity cannot come to Vietnam unless true freedom and basic human rights are respected.

The American Library Association has voted "Understanding Vietnam" the 1994 Outstanding Academic Book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent analysis, and it reads like a novel!
The author explores the cultural values of the Vietnamese and traces the transitions in thinking which took place over the past several decades: from the introduction of Western ideas and values under the French, to the various Vietnamese responses and reactions to Western thinking, the humiliating aspects of colonialism, and the subsequent struggle for independence. I have read other histories of Vietnam, but none has so clearly described the underlying cultural dynamics which drove the events. I feel like I understand for the first time what the Vietnam war was all about, from the perspective of the Vietnamese themselves; the conflict between North and South Vietnam over the nature of the nation and society which would emerge from independence.

The best part of the book for me was the extensive use of excerpts from Vietnamese literature and editorial pieces to illustrate Vietnamese thought. This gave life to the concepts he was describing, it gave me a first hand account by letting me hear from the Vietnamese people themselves.

The author's overall thesis, relating societal changes to the oriental concept of yin and yang --a continually adjusted balance between structure and feeling, duty and compassion -- is clearly delineated throughout the story (yes, it really reads like a story), and is quite compelling. By all means, read this book! ... Read more

190. The Koreans : Who They Are, What They Want, Where Their Future Lies
by Michael Breen
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312326092
Catlog: Book (2004-01-17)
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Sales Rank: 85627
Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The rise of South Korea is one of the most unexpected and inspirational developments of the latter part of our century. A few decades ago, the Koreans were an impoverished, agricultural people. In one generation they came out of the fields and into Silicon Valley. In 1997, this powerhouse of a nation reeled and almost collapsed as a result of a weak financial system and heavily indebted conglomerates. The world is now watching to see whether the Koreans will be able to reform and continue their stunning growth.

Although Korea has only recently found itself a part of the global stage, it is a country with a rich and complex past. Early history shows that Koreans had a huge influence on ancient Japan, and their historic achievements include being the first culture to use metal movable type for printing books. However, much of their history is less positive; it is marred with political violence, poverty, and war-aspects that would sooner be forgotten by the Koreans, who are trying to focus on their promising future.

The fact that Korean history has eluded much of the world is unfortunate, but as Korea becomes more of a global player, understanding and appreciation for this unique nation has become indispensable.

In The Koreans, Michael Breen provides an in-depth portrait of the country and its people. an early overview of the nature and values of the Korean people provides the background for a more detailed examination of the complex history of the country, in particular its division into the Communist north and pro-Western south.

In this absorbing and enlightening account of the Koreans, Michael Breen provides compelling insight into the history and character of this fascinating nation.
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Reviews (23)

5-0 out of 5 stars Valuable resource on Korean history
Let me say first that I understand the negative comments other reviewers have made about the book. I did wince when I first started reading because 1) the author's tone was intimately critical (although it might be a stretch to characterize it as pejorative) and 2) he's British. Anyone who has read any history of Asia (or Africa, or the Americas) is rightfully concerned when a European (or American) takes such a tone in a book on the history of a colonized nation. As a person of Korean descent, I was immediately keen to this potential lack of objectivity.

However, I found the book very valuable. All of the historical facts that Breen cited can be backed up by Lee Ki-Baik's Korea Old and New (although of course the interviews and anecdotes I can't account for). I thought this book was an excellent compliment to Old and New because it gave a personal narrative to the history (although, of course, I would be very interested in reading a similar item from a Korean).

But history is not the ultimate focus of the book. Breen is more concerned with the future of Korea, or rather the two Koreas. What is ironic is that while he notes (with some tone of criticism) a Korean tendency to speak wishes as if they were facts, he seems to close with a similar, rosy sentiment about how the Koreas might come together.

I certainly felt that while he looked at Korea with a critical eye, he did so in large part because he truly cared for the country and it's people.

5-0 out of 5 stars Breen is the Alex De Tocqueville of England
I always thought that the input of outsiders was important in assessing yourself. Just as Tocqueville's book on America is a classic to this day for its insight in an industrializing nation, Breen's book might be considered a classic on modernizing Korea someday. He points things out that I never noticed before, but I can see as important if you are entering Korean culture as a foreigner. I myself am Korean American, spending most of my life in the United States. Reading Breen's book, I can look at my parents and understand them a little better. This is an excellent and entertaining book, which I read in 4 hours. I recommend this to anyone interested in Korean culture. What makes it more interesting is that it's non-academic, making it understandable to anyone. The negative comments are strangely from people who are not Korean nor have they spent any long length of time in Korea. Other critics think you need a PhD in sociology to write anything about a group of people. How absurd!

2-0 out of 5 stars Please do not find any NATIONAL CHARACTER in this book.
I'm sorry for saying that if some person (who is even a Korean!) really has read MANY and/or GOOD Korean history before reading this book, she/he may not say this book is PLEASANTLY INSIGHTFUL.

Talking about NATIONAL CHARACTERS is always as dangerous as doing about RACIAL/ ETHINIC CHARACERS. We cannot and should not so easily talk about something like a national character after Auschwitz even though it does not seem to be a big problem at first.

If you insists to find some NATIONAL CHARACTER in this book, however, unfortunately you still cannot find it here. You may have good skills to find some information in misinformation.

And thus, the problem of this book does not come only from 'POLITICAL' correctness, and there are other problems. If there is anything like political 'INCORRECTNESS' in this book, it is not because he is an 'outsider'. Being outsiders does not necessarily mean being politically incorrect. On the contrary, many insiders can be so. Yes, this is not the problem of being insiders/outsiders.I know many people who are 'outsiders' but not so much offensive even though I'm not sure of their being politically correct or not.

I don't want to affect the sales of this book(because I think the publisher is a good company), but I'm just sad about the fact that there are too many misunderstandings and distortions considered widely as truths and even insights regarding the matters of Korea, which are often made especially in offensive ways.

If I, as an 'insider', feel uncomfortable with this book or some reviews here, it is not because the book says something that 'insiders' do not like and want to see, but because there are still those who insist that 'insiders' accept false things as bitter truths. This is not the matter of politics, but that of my conscience.

I'm so sorry if I criticized this book too harshly. But I agree that the book was very readable, and I appreciate the author's good writing skill making it easy to read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Michael Breen's Land of the Morning Calm...
As a person of Korean background, I found Breen's book pleasantly insightful. I've read many good historical reference books about Korean history, but few that give insight into the national and social character -- and fewer still that actually hold Koreans accountable (at least by degree) for their own 20th century history.

Breen tries very hard to give his reader what feels like an "inside scoop" on very difficult, complex, and beautiful society. As such, it can seem "politically incorrect" for some -- particularly because he is an "outsider" writing about Korea. But his status actually allows him to write with greater objectivity -- at least in my view -- because he has the courage to articulate what Koreans intuitively understand but rarely utter. Breen exposes secrets within the national character and that is always discomforting. 20th century Korean history, however, has been rife with unsustainable secrets and its nice to see some of these exposed. Koreans have been victims and pawns in the 20th century -- but they have also made some important and fateful choices. If we (as a Korean) want our losses and sacrifices acknowledged, then we must also accept and embrace our responsibilities. Breen is very good at showing the necessity of both!

A Korean would probably never write a book like Breen's -- not because they don't know, but because the context is so clear to them. The trouble is that few have bothered to share this context with the rest of us. I thank Breen for taking the risks to do so. The Cold War is not over in Korea. For those of us who hope for a "Velvet Revolution" that might peacefully reunite the split halves of Korea, Breen's book is helpful and insightful. It is a global village and Koreans cannot function as the sole agents of their destiny -- which is something Americans are also learning (albeit slowly).

Few have the courage, candor or skill to do what Breen has done. No book is perfect, but Breen has opened a new door and let the sunshine in!

2-0 out of 5 stars one troublesome book about Korea
Before reading this book titled something about Korea, I was misinformed by the authority of its publisher as a well-known and good publishing company. And it is regretfully true that I was attracted to the bookcover's information of the book and the author as a reporter or a correspondent for several famous newspapers.

As some reviewers already wrote here before, however, this book is colored with severe ethnocentrism and cultural prejudice. When I found the critical reviews after reading this book, I could not help agreeing with the reviews too.

The author has several assumptions probably coming from his cultural prejudice. For example, "Corruption is a fact of life in Asia"(p. 238). This is just one example of his troublesome convictions framing his mind.This book is full of such ungrounded and mystifying assumptions the author believes as facts and truths about an "oriental" entity called "Korea" accroding to the author. I don't buy it as a Korean citizen who has lived in Korea for more than 30 years.

In addition to such problems, even though at the beginning part of each chapter he pretends to show better points than the naively negative desctiptions of Korea suggested in the early 20th century travel records by Western authors while ignoring some significant materials showing the opposite descriptions, he just repeats and even reinforces such negative coloring of Korea in an exaggerating way searching for as many and new weird things as he can.

Of course, there are some fragmented facts in his descriptions. But biased facts and exaggerations based on his cultural prejudice transform his facts into half-truths, which are in many cases worse than ignorance as wise people already know.

Thus, in the concluding part of each chapter, you can find his disgust at the object of his descriptions while he pretends to be a neutral (or even positive) observer. I take the problem of such pretension in this book seriously, which he himself may not be concious of.

I think that this kind of terrible descriptions come in part from his job as a journalist. There are more critical or exceptionally negative topics than the opposite cases in newspapers, and he just seem to pick them up and easily combine and generalize from them. Thus comes the conclusion. This is "Korea"! This is the "Koreans"! Trust me! He probably fails in balancing his picking-up processes.

Korea is a society changing so fast, which makes some of this book's descriptions of people's attitutes or behaviors during the 80s or even the 90s seem to be already things of the past, which he considers as unchanging over time.

I rather would like to recommend Cumings' book Korea's Place in the Sun, or Don Oberdorfer's Two Koreas because both escape culturally shallow essentialism. ... Read more

191. Armenia : A Historical Atlas
by Robert H. Hewsen
list price: $150.00
our price: $126.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0226332284
Catlog: Book (1900-05-01)
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Sales Rank: 417914
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

From its conversion to Christianity to the Genocide during World War I, from the Soviet occupation to its recent independence, Armenia has seen a long and often turbulent history. In the magnificent Armenia: A Historical Atlas, Robert H. Hewsen traces Armenia's rich past from ancient times to the present day through more than two hundred full-color maps packed with information about physical geography, demography, and sociopolitical, religious, cultural, and linguistic history.

Hewsen has divided the maps into five sections, each of which begins with a chronology of important dates and a historical introduction to the period. Specialized maps include Ptolemy's second-century map of Armenia, as well as maps of Roman, Cilician, Ottoman, tsarist, and Soviet Armenia. Other maps show the Persian khanate of Erevan, the Caucasian campaigns of World War I, the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian monuments in Turkey and Transcaucasia, the worldwide diaspora, ground plans of selected cities, and plans of the great monastery of Echmiadzin in 1660, 1890, and 1990. The atlas concludes with maps portraying the Karabagh war and the new Armenian Republic, and an extensive bibliography compiles references to the vast historical, ethnological, and travel literature on the region.

The first comprehensive and authoritative atlas of any of the former Soviet republics, this book does not treat Armenia in isolation, but instead sets it within the context of Caucasia as a whole, providing detailed information on neighboring regions such as Georgia and Azerbaijan. Armenia: A Historical Atlas will be an essential reference and an important teaching tool for generations to come.

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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Invaluable historical atlas; couldn't be better
This is an amazing atlas presenting in-depth covering of the long and turbulent history of Armenia. There are numerous publications on Armenian history, but they either contain plain maps, or plan text. This one not only presents an enormous number of extremely valuable and rare historical maps covering about three thousand years' history, but also presents in a very reader-friendly style unbiased historical facts associated with every single map. More than that, it presents invaluable statistical information, such as the population by regions. It also presents very intriguing architectural data. One of invaluable features of the book is the coverage of the Armenian genocide and the first republic.
This is more than a book - it is a great treasure that anyone interested in history in general and Armenian history in particular MUST have.

5-0 out of 5 stars An outstanding accomplishment!
I cannot imagine a more comprehensive effort on telling -and mapping- the history of a people. This atlas is a delight to go to once and again. It contains a treasury of well-explained and well-presented historical facts on the Armenian nation, whose boundaries have suffered so many changes throughout the ages.
The steep but well justified. My only comment would be that,if you are interested in a superficial or introductory work, you are paying here for more than you need. If, however, you want to go deep, this atlas is a must. In addition to the maps, the text is very rich and I can't think of any item of information on the Armenian people that would not be covered here.

5-0 out of 5 stars IT's BIG, I'll give it that.
Mr. Hewson's book requires a large coffee table with sturdy legs. Well worth the price, it will fascinate all ethnicities by its girth. The painstakingly rendered maps are only part of the magic. The accompanying research of each period of the history of this Region, (which encompasses more than just the Armenian culture) incorporates many sources to deliver a volume that is at once simple enough for the novice researcher and involved enough for those already familiar with the subject matter. ... Read more

192. The Cambridge History of China: Volume 1, The Ch'in and Han Empires, 221 BC-AD 220 (The Cambridge History of China)
list price: $175.00
our price: $157.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0521243270
Catlog: Book (1986-12-26)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Sales Rank: 368779
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Book Description

This volume begins the historical coverage of The Cambridge History of China with the establishment of the Ch'in empire in 221 BC and ends with the abdication of the last Han emperor in AD 220. Spanning four centuries, this period witnessed major evolutionary changes in almost every aspect of China's development, being particularly notable for the emergence and growth of a centralized administration and imperial government. Owing to their pioneer achievements and the heritage that they left for later empires, these dynasties have rightly been regarded as a formative influence throughout Chinese history. Important archaeological discoveries of recent years have made a new approach possible for many aspects of the period. Leading historians from Asia, Europe, and America have contributed chapters that convey a realistic impression of significant political, economic, intellectual, religious, and social developments, and of the contacts that the Chinese made with other peoples at this time. Like the other volumes in the series, volume 1 summarizes the information given in primary sources in the light of the most recent critical scholarship. As the book is intended for the general reader as well as the specialist, technical details are given in both Chinese terms and English equivalents. References lead to primary sources and their translations and to secondary writings in European languages as well as Chinese and Japanese. ... Read more

193. The Camera and the Tsars: The Romanov Family in Photographs
by Charlotte Zeepvat
list price: $22.95
our price: $22.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0750930497
Catlog: Book (2004-04-01)
Publisher: Sutton Publishing
Sales Rank: 64866
Average Customer Review: 4.62 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book except for irksome error.
I do not have much to add to my review that hasn't been said by the other reviewers. However, Zeepvat refers throughout the book to the members of the Russuan royal family as 'Grand Prince' and 'Grand Princess'! In all my extensive readings of the Romanovs I have never seen anything but 'Grand Duke' or 'Grand Duchess', indeed, this is how certain family members referred to themselves in their memoirs. That said, this is still a wonderful book to add to any royal collection.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great photographic album about Romanovs!
I would put this one right up there with Love, Power & Tragedy, Royal Russia, and Nicholas and Alexandra: the Family Albums! True, the whole thing wasnt completely about the last family, but the rare and beautiful pictures of Nicholas II and his wife and kids are worth it. All of the photos are clear and large and interesting and grouped by category and bear interesting captions. I was thrilled and pleasantly surprised. Buy this one! Some of the photos I've only seen in the Benecke collection online.

5-0 out of 5 stars Views of a Vanished World
The Camera and the Tsars is a well organized collection of photographs of the extended Romanov family from the mid 1800s through the post-Revolutionary period. As with her earlier work Queen Victoria's Family, Charlotte Zeepvat has done an excellent job of seeking out many photographs of the more obscure members of the family to give us a more rounded view of the Imperial Family than we usually get from the standard photos seen over and over again.

When I looked through this book I was struck by what a good looking group of people the Romanovs were. The photos are a mixture of formal portraits and snapshots (many taken by the Romanovs themselves), and in most of them the subjects are nice, pleasant seeming people not at all overwhelmed by the formal settings and clothing. The men mostly seem to have been rugged outdoor types, and the women rather romantic and elegant, with some quite beautiful. The children are really cute, too. Interestingly, most of them are smiling, which is rather unusual for nineteenth century photography. There are even some smiling pictures of Alexandra, the last Tsaritsa, who is usually stone faced in most of her portraits. Its also interesting to see how the passage of years changed some of the people. I particularly liked Grand Princess Alexandra Iosipovna, who married one of Nicholas I's sons (and is Prince Philip's great-grandmother). She went from being a fresh faced young girl to an elegant matron to a magnificent grande dame. Also Grand Princess Maria Pavlovna the elder, whose pictures could be used for a dictionary illustration for "distinguished" or "imposing". Even though the pictures are all black and white, you can imagine how the jewels must have glittered and the silks and satins gleamed and rustled.

The final few pictures showing the post-Revolutionary surviving Romanovs are particularly evocative. These are people who have lost a lot and endured enormous pain, and it shows on their still dignified, but very sad, faces.

This is a book all Romanov aficionados will want. It will also appeal to anyone interested in photography, fashion, or just human beings themselves.

5-0 out of 5 stars A wonderul book for the ages
Words can not describe this book. Zeepvat (as always) does not dissappoint with her latest delight. Keeping in the tradition of "Queen Victoria's Family", the lives of the tragic Romanovs come to life in a book that is a must for anyone with a love for history.

5-0 out of 5 stars A book of rare photos of the wider Romanov family
Thankfully this book is not just about Nicholas, Alexandra and their children who have already had numerous books published of their photos. Instead we are presented with hundreds of rare, and in many cases never before published pictures, of the often lesser known members of the Romanov clan.

This book charts their photographic interests in both public and private from the 1850's to the 1930's. The only other comparable book to it for images of the wider Romanov family is 'The Last Tsar' by Larissa Yermilova and thankfully there is not too much overlap in their photographic contents.

Charlotte Zeepvat has divided her photos up in to topics such as: The Last Tsar, The Family, Born Romanov, A Suitable Marriage, The Family at Work etc. Each photo in the book is captioned, often accompanied by a story either relating to the specific picture or some other anecdote of that person's life. We get to see many members of the imperial family that often only get passing mentions in other books and this photo album will be an invaluable reference for photographic images of the various Romanov members that you will find nowhere else and is a great companion to this author's other book 'Romanov Autumn'. ... Read more

194. The Search for Modern China
by Jonathan D. Spence
list price: $29.95
our price: $19.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0393307808
Catlog: Book (2001-10)
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Sales Rank: 22048
Average Customer Review: 4.09 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In this widely acclaimed history of modern China, Jonathan Spence achieves a fine blend of narrative richness and efficiency. Praised as "a miracle of readability and scholarly authority," (Jonathan Mirsky) The Search for Modern China offers a matchless introduction to China's history. ... Read more

Reviews (34)

5-0 out of 5 stars Spence Was My Companion In China
I just returned from a 15 day journey of The People's Republic of China with Spence's "The Search for Modern China" at my side. I read it before I left and I constantly read it during the trip. Not only is Spence THE authority on Chinese history in the U.S., but the Search for Modern China is THE authority of the last three hundred years of the Han. It excellently chronicles from the last Ming Emperor, through Qianlong and the Tiaping Rebellion, to Modern China starting with Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. His analysis of the successes and flaws of Mao Zedong and those in his wake such as Deng Xiaoping is tantalizing. It is brilliantly organized and told in an interesting and beautiful manor. Spence has outdone himself and topped various other hostorians. With this book he deserves to be ranked with William Shirer, Author Goldschmidt, Jr., and Stephen Ambrose.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Revised Look at Modern China
This book, now in its second edition, has been quite successful and has in one sense managed to fill a perceived need among literate westerners, particulaarly Americans, to know something about modern Chinese history.

However, few people appreciate what a ground-breaking book this was, at least in its first edition. That it was a popular history of China ("popular" in the sense that it was not primarily designed to be a college text) was not unique; reasonably well-researched surveys of Chinese history have been around since the nineteenth century. But for those of us who sat through an undergraduate course on Chinese history prior to 1980, Spence's approach was refreshingly un-Eurocentered.

Once upon a time, Chinese history was presented in two neat halves: the first half was "traditional" China from prehistoric times to the Opium Wars (1840's). The second half was everything else going forward. The overall impression was that everything changed when the white man appeared - which is, of course, a misperception, to put it mildly. Spence conceives of "modern" Chinese history as beginning with the Ming Dynasty, and treated the Western intervention as just one theme among many.

Thus, Spence was able to present a new view of China to a new generation, and it was a viewpoint that explains a great deal more than previous ones did. That he does it in such a compelling way, opening new vistas up to us in the process, is what makes this a great book. A great deal of thought and sensitivity has gone into this work, and it deserves to be appreciated for that.

5-0 out of 5 stars The perfect introduction to Chinese history
This textbook is the perfect introduction for students interested in an overview of modern Chinese history and a valuable reference for scholars already immersed in the subject. Drawing on his many years of teaching the survey course at Yale on Chinese history, Spence covers the major events and themes of the past four hundred years with scholarly thoroughness and a light literary hand. Although the amount of material is daunting - even Spence doesn't use it all in his course- Search for Modern China is written to be accessible to the layperson as well as the academic. Highly recommended for anyone interested in China today.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent, readable introduction
When I started studying Chinese, I wanted a book that would give me some background on Chinese history. I asked several experts in Chinese history, and they recommended this book. I'm grateful they did.

Though long, it held my interest throughout. After all, no matter how good a history book is, if you don't read it, you won't learn a thing.

Though it sometimes goes off on tangents that seem a bit superfluous, overall it's a tightly written book that will really help you explore an interest in Chinese history.

3-0 out of 5 stars Factual but Detached
I'm reading Spence's book for a college course on Modern Chinese History. I find the writing to be very clear and organization to be very good. The information presented is relevant and Spence provides good anecdotes that do not stray too far away from the subject.

My only complaint with Spence's book is that it is too light on the Western imperialists that devastated China from 1840-1949. Being Western himself, Spence seems to excuse western military, political and religious exploitation of China by portraying imperialism as some sort of paternal guidance. Spence also makes little or no judgements on the events of history. While this "detached" form is usually the style for textbooks, I find it to be representative of intellectual cowardice. Spence and the West continually refuse to face up to the fact that 50 or 60 years ago, the western nations embraced social, political evils in the name of profit while at the same time espousing empty slogans of liberty and freedom.

While, it is extremely tiring to read communist literature that seems to include an insult every other sentence, Spence's book is extreme on the other end of the scale. It is time that historians and academics faced the fact that history is not some intellectual exercise that they can undertake in their university offices. Writing about the death of millions and the collpase of nations in an emotionally detached way seems inappropriate for me. Make a judgement, and make it right. Historical representation is inherently political. "Objective" history is a lie. ... Read more

195. Propaganda and Dreams: Photographing the 1930s in the USSR and the US
by Leah Bendavid-Val, Philip Brookman
list price: $55.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 3908161800
Catlog: Book (1999-05)
Publisher: Edition Stemmle
Sales Rank: 175664
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Thirties brainwashing
A fascinating photo study of how two nations used photography to push their own political agenda. Author Bendavid-Val sums it up as...'The moral Russian individual was called upon to yeild unselfishly to his people. Americans on the other hand believed that the individual had a basic right to act aggressively on his own behalf, to make his own future...'.

The book starts with a super twenty-four pages of photos, each spread has a Soviet photo facing an American one, both dealing with the same subject, children, street scenes, farm workers, power stations, in a bar, shop windows etc. They do look very similar, least at first glance!

The essence of the book are two portfolios of black and white photos, first the Soviets with seventy-seven then the Americans with seventy-four, they are mostly one to a page and beautifully printed.

The author explains in an illustrated essay the thinking behind taking pictures for propaganda, this could turn out to be a bit of a hazard in the old Soviet Union where creative folk could become non-people as happened to photo-editor Lazar Mezhericher, declared a saboteur in 1937 and photographer Yakov Khalip who had the misfortune to take portraits of NKVD boss Nikolai Yezhov who vanished one fine day, also in 1937. Khalip's work was suddenly tainted!
Incidentally 'The Commissar Vanishes' by David King is an interesting book about the falsification of photos in Stalin's Russia

What the author does not cover is why the American photos are technically so much better than the Soviet ones. I assume this has to do with Roy Stryker's very tight shooting scripts that he made his photographers follow. Also the output of the FSA had to compete with commercial images from ad agencies and the like. The Soviet photographers would hardly have had to worry about such competition and so their photos were much more subjective and creative. Strangely a lot of the American photos were taken in the early forties, despite the book title refering to photography in the 1930s.

Unfortunately there is no index or bibliography, which I would have expected. In the 'Listomania' section of my...'see more about me' page I have made a Top-Ten list of books about about FSA photographs.

Leah Bendavid-Val is to be congratulated on producing an excellent book about documentary photogrphy during the 1930s. These photographs are some of the greatest ever taken. ... Read more

196. India (Eyewitness Books)
by Manini Chatterjee, Anita Roy
list price: $15.99
our price: $10.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0789489716
Catlog: Book (2002-08-01)
Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Publishing
Sales Rank: 40318
Average Customer Review: 4 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Discover the people and traditions of one of the most dynamic countries in the world.

Discover the rich diversity of the world's most populous democracy in this stunning guide. Witness the beauty of the Taj Mahal, learn how India gained its independence, discover the splendor of the Mughal dynasty, and much, much more. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Heavy but Worth it!
These DK white books are uncommonly heavy. They don't have as much detailed information as the Blue Guides or Rough Guides, but are good for brief visits or first timers. Where they excell is their outstanding illustrations and diagrams, often cutaways. The maps are good, but the labeling system makes it difficult to locate things easily. Lots of full page color photos give a preview of the trip. It's a daunting task to try to cover India in a single guide, but this book almost does it. It's well organized, color coded by region. The picture of Palitana in the Gujarat section became the foundation for that section of our 2003 trip to India [ ], and the diversion provided one of the highlights of the entire 6 week trip.

Bottom line? Your best bet is to get the Rough and Blue Guides, then be sure that someone else on the trip is carrying the DK. Or buy the books you need, and then just scan the pages you need to bring with you. ... Read more

197. Dispatches
list price: $12.00
our price: $9.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679735259
Catlog: Book (1991-08-06)
Publisher: Vintage
Sales Rank: 12744
Average Customer Review: 4.41 out of 5 stars
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Michael Herr, who wrote about the Vietnam War for Esquire magazine, gathered his years of notes from his front-line reporting and turned them into what many people consider the best account of the war to date, when published in 1977. He captured the feel of the war and how it differed from any theater of combat ever fought, as well as the flavor of the time and the essence of the people who were there. Since Dispatches was published, other excellent books have appeared on the war--may we suggest The Things They Carried, The Sorrow of War, We Were Soldiers Once ... and Young--but Herr's book was the first to hit the target head-on and remains a classic. ... Read more

Reviews (74)

5-0 out of 5 stars Worth a read
A warts-and-all account of the Vietnam War. Possibly the best book on this subject in the last thirty years, Michael Herr gives us an objective look into the horror of combat without looking through the eyes of rose-tainted patriotism. He invokes the dread and chaos of the battlefield and weighs out the whims of human behaviour, bravery and insanity, meekness and humanity, without the judgement or condemnation that might be meted out by a loftier author.

Herr's use of brutal imagery absorbed me into his savage surroundings. From the soldier who can't stop drooling as a result of a particularly dreadful gun battle, to the scenes of the dead, American and Vietnamese, adult and infant, on eclectic battlefields and village streets.

The characters are real people in a situation that most of them neither like nor understand. They are young men who invoke the same shortcomings we all have. But they are a step above the common reader. They are professional soldiers and act that way despite their misgivings. They push past the boundaries of fear and into the realms of heroism or insanity or death. Everyone that he introduces is individual. There are no carbon copy soldiers here. They are funny or musical or religious or delusional, whatever their idiosyncrasy may be. I felt as though I was being introduced to people I knew throughout the book.

Most books on the topic of war that I have read tend to stay with one platoon. Herr constantly shifts places and battalions and makes the reader feel as though he/she is part of something bigger. There is no single climax in the book. An honest reflection of that war perhaps. Each chapter is as horrific and exhilarating as the next.

The length of it, in particular, displays an author who wants to show us the bare bones: no hyperbolic descriptions that eventually desensitise us to the events, no ivory-tower pensive soliloquies to the tragedy of war. Michael Herr gives us the facts and trusts the reader's intelligence to decide.

5-0 out of 5 stars Apocalypse Anytime
Michael Herr wrote the narration for "Apocalypse Now," so what more do you need to know? This book is a brilliant description of the surreal. It is crucial to understand that this book is not a political or military history of the war. Instead, Herr tried to portray the "experience" of what it was like to be in Vietnam. If you have ever read Tim O'Brien's "How to tell a True War Story," you will understand Herr's accomplishment that much more. As an ex-grunt who saw a little action in Somalia and Haiti, naturally I have read many books on Vietnam from the infantryman's POV. Two great ones written in the "Dispatches" vein are out of print now, but worth getting; "Young Man in Vietnam" and "Free fire Zone." On a side note, I just got back from a trip to Vietnam and I absolutely loved it. The people couldn't have been nicer or more helpful in showing me around their country. I thought I was going to be resented as an American, but instead, the Vietnamese seemed fascinated and proud that I was visiting their country. An eye opening experience and after talking with them and looking at the beautiful Viet women, I have to once again marvel at the stupidity of war that separated our peoples.

5-0 out of 5 stars Far and away the best book on Nam there is.
Nothing esle needs to be said. I get dizzy if I read more than a page at a time. Amazing.

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply the best book about Vietman ever written
I've read this book about a hundred times, and I suspect I'll continue to read it forever. The prose, the descriptions of times and places, and comrades are brilliant. Many times I've showed my wife a passage that Herr has written as an example of what great writing should read like. I've tried to capture in my readings on Vietnam what the experience must have been like, and Herr is the only author that has helped me put a framework around that. I've recommended this book well over 100 times over these past years to anyone looking for an explanation of what Vietnam was, including the lunacy and the real stories underneath the "official command" stories, This is a must read (and own).

1-0 out of 5 stars Jason Blair Herr in Nam
I'm a Nam vet who read this book carefully just after publication. I made a list of about ten downright silly errors appearing in the book. Although I wasn't a Marine (Herr's on the predominantly jarhead scene), I was with the 1st Cav, the only US outfit that seemed to really impress Herr. In any case, I was looking at an old Phil Caputo interview and Caputo says Herr told him he made up a lot of Dispatches. That's something I can believe. If you smoke less weed and have lots of actual combat experiences, you have a better quality of high punctilio recollections. Lots of wannabees and political-types don't get that. To actually have the background and boldness to question the veracity of a work like this is incomprehensible. Well, I get to do that. There is a bunch of fake malarkey in this book and honest people should not hold it in high esteem. ... Read more

198. They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace Vietnam and America October 1967
by David Maraniss
list price: $29.95
our price: $19.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743217802
Catlog: Book (2003-10-01)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 8032
Average Customer Review: 4.76 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Here is the epic story of Vietnam and thesixties told through the events of a few tumultuous days in October 1967. David Maraniss takes the reader on an unforgettable journey to the battlefields of war and peace. With meticulous and captivating detail, They Marched Into Sunlight brings that catastrophic time back to life while examining questions about the meaning of dissent and the official manipulation of truth, issues that are as relevant today as they were decades ago.

In a seamless narrative, Maraniss weaves together three very different worlds of that time: the death and heroism of soldiers in Vietnam, the anger and anxiety of antiwar students back home, and the confusion and obfuscating behavior of officials in Washington. In the literature of the Vietnam era, there are powerful books about soldiering, excellent analyses of American foreign policy in Southeast Asia, and many dealing with the sixties' culture of protest, but this is the first book to connect the three worlds and present them in a dramatic unity. To understand what happens to the people of this story is to understand America's anguish.

In the Long Nguyen Secret Zone of Vietnam, a renowned battalion of the First Infantry Division is marching into a devastating ambush that will leave sixty-one soldiers dead and an equal number wounded. On the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison, students are staging an obstructive protest at the Commerce Building against recruiters for Dow Chemical Company, makers of napalm and Agent Orange, that ends in a bloody confrontation with club-wielding Madison police. And in Washington, President Lyndon Johnson is dealing with pressures closing in on him from all sides and lamenting to his war council, "How are we ever going to win?"

Based on thousands of primary documents and 180 on-the-record interviews, the story unfolds day by day, hour by hour, and at times minute by minute, with a rich cast of characters -- military officers, American and Viet Cong soldiers, chancellors, professors, students, police officers, businessmen, mime troupers, a president and his men, a future mayor and future vice president -- moving toward battles that forever shaped their lives and evoked cultural and political conflicts that reverberate still. ... Read more

Reviews (29)

5-0 out of 5 stars October 1967 -- a pivotal month in American history
Focusing on October 1967, David Maraniss, an esteemed Washington Post journalist, has woven together a unique history of the Vietnam era. He concentrates on one infantry battalion in Vietnam, a student protest at the University of Wisconsin and President Johnson's decisions in Washington. It's a stirring narrative, woven together from hundreds of archival documents and interviews. Add to this the writer's skill in bringing to life each of the many real people in this unfolding drama and weaving it all together in an interconnected story that held me spellbound throughout its 528 pages.

We get to meet the soldiers and read excerpts from letters they sent home. There's Terry Allen Jr., the commander, whose father was a WW2 hero and who's struggling with marital problems. There's Lt. Clark Welch who feels self confident and invincible. There's Michael Arias, who carries the heavy radio through the jungle. There's Daniel Sikorski whose sister back home is having nightmares. And then there is Vo Minh Triet, the Viet Cong commander who engaged the Americans in conflict. They eet in battle and we share the terror as well as the excruciating details of carnage and death. Fifty eight Americans died that day and more than 60 were wounded. And yet the truth was only known to the men in combat as the media accounts were based on deceptive spins of military and Washington politics.

We also get to meet the students, faculty and police officers in Madison Wisconsin. We're there at a student protest against the Dow Chemical company recruiters on campus which led to nightsticks and head wounds and tear gas and a brick that severely injured a police officer. We hear accounts of the meetings of university officials and understand the hard choices that have to be made in a "no-win" situation. We meet young people who never had a political thought in their head who were radicalized that day. And we also learn about the realities of napalm as well as "agent orange". Then we jump into the present, visit with the survivors of that incredible time and take a visit to modern Vietnam with the author, visit the battlefield and meet some of the Viet Cong who lived through the battle. We again meet the student protestors, and talk with Paul Solgin, who tried to protect himself with his sheepskin coat from a beating with police nightsticks in 1967. Later, he became Mayor of Madison and is now considered too conservative. Some of the other protestors became radicals. Many them became teachers and professors. But everyone the author spoke to could look back at that month in 1967 as a turning point in their lives.

I loved this book and hold the deepest respect for the author and his depth of research. It shed a new light on an important era of America history and I thank him for writing it.

I give "They Marched Into Sunlight" my highest recommendation.

5-0 out of 5 stars Five plus stars on a field of Red, White and Blue
Once in a very long while comes a book that is a single amazing achievement. This book draws you into its world and vibrates in your mind like marbles in a jar as you read. David Maraniss accomplishment is totally overwhelming in it's detail and depiction of every mans perception of truth. Told with an honest tone and little noticeable bias his story sums up years of protest and war. I often mention my favorite book of all time (non-fiction) is Neil Sheehan's, A BRIGHT SHINING LIE. A book that simply explains the unexplainable reasons of Vietnam through the telling of the life of John Paul Vann. Now Maraniss expands the canvas, viewing the Vietnam experience through the eyes of a multi-character epic. Just by telling the story of the people and places all one month, October 1967. It is pitch perfect, sad, wonderful, ugly, glorious, and so wonderfully written that I defy you to turn away. I can not recommend this more highly. One of the great books defining the Vietnam era experience.

5-0 out of 5 stars Slicing through the razor grass ....
"They Marched Into Sunlight" is a staggering accomplishment. Avoiding pedantry, it is one of the most powerful treatments of war and the reaction to war one can find. Compellingly structured and written with crystal clarity, it is next-to-impossible to put down. I can personally testify that it can be read in an almost-continuous stretch of fifteen hours.

At one level, "They Marched into Sunlight" is a set of parallel narratives that shifts between the jungles near the "Long Nguyen Secret Zone" north of Saigon and the campus of the University of Wisconsin. Both narratives climax in the events of October 17-18, 1967. Yet the two stories -- one of ambush and a jungle of death in which 58 U.S. soldiers died (along with many Vietnamese) and the other of an anti-war demonstration that twisted into anarchy and bloody violence -- were, as David Maraniss so deftly reveals, interwoven in more ways that just being part of the same single spin of the globe.

Maraniss is a master story-teller. In providing a deep reflection of the Vietnam experience, his point of view is not just that of the two isolated yet interwoven events. More important, his story is that of the individuals whose life threads led into those days and of those who survived. His spectacle of words is obviously based upon a wealth of interviews, first-hand accounts, personal letters, and more official documents. In case after case, Maraniss always seems to have captured just the right quote to allow the stories to bear witness to themselves.

In a lyrical touch, the book's themes center around a poem, "Elegy" by Bruce Weigl (p. 139). This literary twist provides a philosophical foil to the hard journalism of much of the material. How do we deal with the loss suffered when "Some of them died. Some of them were not allowed to."? Both the title of the book and of this review derive from the poem.

In addition to the accounts of the extraordinary ordinary people, Maraniss adds a third sequence to the main two. The third is the background of the increasing frustration within the Johnson administration to come to terms with a strategy that was not working. It is against this much larger backdrop that the stories of the soldiers and the demonstraters stand out in such sharp relief and transform into broad metaphors for the much longer stretch of time covered by the Vietnam War.

There is profound power within "Sunlight" that comes with the perspective of time. The relevant events occurred more than thirty-five years ago, but they were transformational for those who experienced them and, in the case of the soldiers, survived them. Similarly, for any of us who lived through that era, "Sunlight" is a mirror in which our own memories, reactions, and transformations are reflected.

It would be easy to derive a sense of fatalism from the stories of the soldiers and the protesters - that history is often fortuitous and arbitrary rather than controllable. Yet, within the relentless onrush of events, a crisis will reveal the souls of its particpants. I will carry this book in my memory for a long time.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent history.
I have not read his other books, but after reading this one, I know that the author deserved his Pulitzer Prize. The lies have been written about before but never in such dramatic detail. The author shows different perspectives on the war, shows how differently perceived were the same events in the letters written home by gung ho officers and the conscripted men serving under them.

Based not only on contemporary newspapers and documents, but on the letters home and interviews with participants and spouses of those killed. A brilliant book.

5-0 out of 5 stars They Marched Into Sunlight: War and Peace Vietnam and Americ
Adult/High School-For 40 years, the Vietnam War, and its effects on American society, has been a popular topic for authors. The best of these books tend to focus on a single aspect of the conflict, a certain group involved, or a specific period of time. In that tradition, Maraniss concentrates on two events that unfolded over two days in October 1967. On the first of those days, the members of the First Division's Black Lions battalion marched into a trap in the jungles of Vietnam and paid for it dearly. On the next, a large student protest at the University of Wisconsin against Dow Chemicals, the makers of napalm, turned into a battle of its own. By picking these moments in time, while looking at events in the U.S. and in Vietnam, the author shows how the war was affecting Americans, not merely with bullets and nightsticks, but with ideas and ideals as well. One might wish that Maraniss had shown a greater willingness to take on the larger questions posed by these two events, but by bringing these disparate occurrences together and placing them in context, he has provided one of the best books to date on the Vietnam War ... Read more

199. Voices From Chernobyl (Lannan Selection)
by Svetlana Alexievich
list price: $22.95
our price: $15.61
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1564784010
Catlog: Book (2005-04-30)
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
Sales Rank: 37807
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Mesmerizing and chilling
This book is a translation of interviews with survivors 10 years after Chernobyl.The first-person descriptions of living in the "Zone" after the disaster, and the implications of living in radioactivity is chilling and compelling.The book is full of heartbreaking stories of Russian people who survived WWII but then were confronted with another disaster of unbelievable magnitude. I absolutely couldn't put this book down, and feel that it should be promoted as one of the best books of the year.As we are now approaching the 20th anniversary of this event, I keep wondering how many of those people interviewed in 1996 are still alive. This book deserves a huge audience! ... Read more

200. The Battle for L'Vov July 1944: The Soviet General Staff Study (Soviet (Russian) Study of War, 13)
list price: $79.95
our price: $79.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0714652016
Catlog: Book (2002-03-01)
Publisher: Frank Cass Publishers
Sales Rank: 632361
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