Despite the subtitle, this book also looks at famous persons and dynasties of Chinese history from 1700 B.C. to the 16th century. Some of the inventions included are the casting of bronze bells, crossbows, paper, silk, a seismograph, printing, the abacus, the compass, and porcelain; the ideas range from religion, to improvements in agriculture, to medicine. The arrangement of the 36 topics is roughly chronological. Sidebars highlight related legends or ideas. The Pinyin system of transliteration is followed, although the life force "qi" may be more familiar to Westerners as "Chi." A map of Asia is presented on the endpapers. In addition to Fong's watercolor paintings, color photographs, diagrams, and reproductions of ancient Chinese art appear throughout. Although there is no glossary, unfamiliar terms are defined in the serviceable text. The index is not comprehensive (e.g., "block printing" appears, but not "printing"; "Su Song's clock," but not "clocks"). This is not as visually attractive as Arthur Cotterell's Ancient China (Knopf, 1994), which covers many of the same topics. Although Heather Millar's China's Tang Dynasty (Marshall Cavendish, 1996) emphasizes the period from A.D. 600-907, it presents some of the same information on religion, government, medicine, and arts and crafts.?
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