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Jonathan Fenby is a former editor of the Observer and South China Morning Post and a founding partner and Managing Director of Trusted Sources research service. He is the author of several popular books on China, including Tiger Head, Snake Tails and The Penguin History of Modern China.
Image credit: Jonathan Fenby [credit: Justine Stoddart]

Værker af Jonathan Fenby

The Seventy Wonders of China (1672) 71 eksemplarer
The Sinking of the Lancastria (2005) 45 eksemplarer
North Korea (2006) — Forfatter — 27 eksemplarer

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"A complete and essential overview of China's marvels in all areas, from the natural world to inventions to artistic and architectural achievements.

As China emerges as a great world economic power, this book shows what makes it such a special country and civilization, with topics ranging from the natural wonders of mountains and rivers to the Silk Road, from the arts and great monuments of the past to the booming cities of today.

China's artistic achievements are unparalleled in scope. Calligraphy, jade, silk, ceramics, lacquer work, paintings, bronzes, furniture, and gardens are dealt with in highly expert but succinct entries. Monuments like the Forbidden City in Beijing and the Great Wall are celebrated around the world, but the book also presents lesser-known yet breathtaking buildings, palaces, tombs, and monasteries.

The marvels of China touch on everyday life too. The Chinese invented gunpowder, paper, printing, and the compass, as well as such objects as umbrellas and playing cards. China's food is also celebrated in these pages in all its diversity, as is the heritage of the imperial system that ruled the Middle Kingdom for more than two thousand years.

The individual entries are written by experts from leading academic institutions in Asia and the West, including Robert Ash, Fucshia Dunlop, Alison Hardie, Erling Hoh, Ronald Knapp, Vivienne Lo, Victor Mair, Shane McCausland, Carol Michaelson, Ann Paludan, Lei-Lei Qu, Nathan Sivin, Nancy Steinhardt, Shelagh Vainker, Frances Wood, Ni Yibin, and Zhang Yinglan. 320 illustrations, 250 in color." - Penguin Books
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Centre_A | 1 anden anmeldelse | Nov 27, 2020 |
A detail heavy history that focuses on politics. If, like me, you know plenty about the culture, but don't really understand how Gaul was so important, this is the book for you. If you know about the politics, but not the culture, you'll find this book pretty much useless--a list of names doesn't really tell you anything about French philosophy, literature or art, and the cultural history more or less peters out in the '70s. If you think knowing about political history is pointless because bottom-up is the only way to really understand things, avoid it. That's not a criticism of the book.

One criticism of the book: Fenby doesn't spend much time explaining how international economic or political events shaped French political actions (aside from Gaul's kind of charming chest thumping). Perhaps they didn't, but it would have been nice to point that out.

And that was unavoidable, because Fenby, despite having written a popular history, also has--gasp!--an argument: that the history of modern France is the playing out of tensions dating back to the revolution. If you think that, you're hardly likely to care much about international affairs. But a charming read, provided you don't expect too much, or too much of the wrong thing.
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stillatim | 2 andre anmeldelser | Oct 23, 2020 |
Fenby is a long-serving foreign correspondent in Paris, and this brisk run-through of French history in the 200 years from Waterloo to Charlie Hebdo really feels like high-quality journalistic writing. Clear, concise storytelling with efficient little sketches of the main actors, issues and events, enough peripheral detail to keep it lively, but no padding. Of course, even on those terms 200 years in the history of a major European power in 500 pages is a tall order, and that means the focus has to stay quite narrow, with little space for anything beyond political events at the centre of power. This is a very useful book for anyone who has trouble sorting out which was Louis-Philippe and which was Louis Napoleon, or can’t remember whether Giscard or Mitterrand came first, but don’t expect more on cultural history than lists of prominent writers and artists.

Fenby is clearly a big fan of Charles de Gaulle (he’s also written a biography), and his account of the period when he was in charge is one of the most interesting parts of the book. But he clearly wishes de Gaulle had stepped down in 1965. And he evidently has as little sympathy for the rebels of 68 as de Gaulle did. He sees them as just another bunch of protesters following the hallowed French tradition of taking to the streets to defend their own special interests at the expense of the rest of French society. A tradition which he feels is responsible for a lot of France’s problems. Governments come into power with reform agendas, get bogged down in conflict with interest groups who resist the proposed changes, and end up doing nothing. I’m not sure that’s a peculiarly French problem...

A good read and a useful book for filling in gaps and working out who’s who, but leaves you wanting something a bit deeper.
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thorold | 2 andre anmeldelser | Jan 4, 2020 |
A book that discusses the siege and capture of the German concession of Tsingtao in 1914 by the Japanese Army, with support from the British. The author discusses the history of the concession, and how the wrangling over the post-war fate of the concession shaped World War II and Chinese history. A very slight book (only 68 pages), little more than an extended essay. I would say in terms of format, decidedly inferior to the Osprey series; among other things, there are no maps for the reader, photographs of the events, or detailed discussions of the weapons used. Not really recommended, I'm afraid.… (mere)
EricCostello | 2 andre anmeldelser | Dec 23, 2018 |



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