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SMITHSONIAN JOURNEYS

China Family

READING AND TRAVEL GUIDE

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Books for

Enrich your travels with reading! Here's a hand-picked list prepared for your journey in conjunction with the book experts at Longitude.

Essential Reading

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Giant Pandas

Giant Pandas

by John Seidensticker | Susan Lumpkin

  • NATURAL HISTORY
  • 2007
  • PAPER
  • 186 PAGES

An informative, family-friendly overview of the natural history, conservation and habitats of Central China's giant pandas. With 200 color photographs, many taken in Sichuan. (CHN456, $19.95)

Understanding China

Understanding China

by John Bryan Starr

  • HISTORY
  • 2010
  • PAPER
  • 400 PAGES

The Yale professor's essential primer on the history, politics and economy of China. A succinct and refreshingly forthright best-selling guide, this third edition brings us right up to date with events in the rapidly evolving nation. (CHN196, $17.95)

Wild Swans, Three Daughters of China

Wild Swans, Three Daughters of China

by Jung Chang

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 2003
  • PAPER
  • 524 PAGES
  • FAVORITE

In this riveting tale of three generations spanning the end of Old China, Mao's regime and the Japanese occupation, Chang chronicles the enormous changes in China since 1929. (CHN04, $16.99)

Lonely Planet Discover China

Lonely Planet Discover China

by Lonely Planet

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2013
  • PAPER
  • 448 PAGES

Focusing on must-see and memorable places and experiences, this all-color guide by the discerning editors at Lonely Planet features hundreds of color photographs and maps, suggested tours and itineraries along with not-to-be-missed places to stay, eat, shop and see. (CHN674, $27.99)

 
Lonely Planet Mandarin Phrasebook

Lonely Planet Mandarin Phrasebook


by Hua-Yuan L. Mowry | Justin Ben-Adam Rudelson

  • LANGUAGE & PHRASEBOOKS
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 256 PAGES

A handy phrasebook for basic Mandarin, focusing on pronunciation, grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler. (CHN72, $8.99)

Odyssey Guide Xi'an, Shaanxi & the Terracotta Army

Odyssey Guide Xi'an, Shaanxi & the Terracotta Army


by Kevin Bishop

  • GUIDEBOOK
  • 2009
  • PAPER
  • 336 PAGES

With color photographs, insightful essays on culture and history, site plans and places of interest in and around China's ancient capital. (CHN34, $24.95)

Life and Death in Shanghai

Life and Death in Shanghai


by Nien Cheng

  • HISTORY
  • 2010
  • PAPER
  • 560 PAGES

A plainly told account of the horrors of the Cultural Revolution in Shanghai from an author who was a six-year political prisoner. (CHN42, $17.95)

Postcards from Tomorrow Square

Postcards from Tomorrow Square


by James Fallows

  • HISTORY
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 288 PAGES

Ranging from politics to society and business, these richly observed, candid essays capture the complexity, tumult and promise of modern China. A correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, where these essays first appeared, Fallows and his wife moved to China in 2006. (CHN559, $15.00)

The Terracotta Army of the First Emperor of China

The Terracotta Army of the First Emperor of China


by William Lindesay

  • HISTORY
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 32 PAGES

A beautiful introduction to the extraordinary tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi, First Emperor of China, this concise visual overview features richly colored illustrations and photographs accompanied by detailed captions. (CHN126, $12.95)

The Great Wall, From Beginning to End

The Great Wall, From Beginning to End


by Michael Yamashita | William Lindesay

  • ART & ARCHITECTURE
  • 2007
  • HARD COVER
  • 192 PAGES

Lindesay's informative text accompanies 160 photographs by Yamashita, who spent a year photographing along the 4,000-mile length of the iconic barrier. (CHN451, $29.95)

China Road

China Road


by Rob Gifford

  • TRAVEL NARRATIVE
  • 2008
  • PAPER
  • 368 PAGES

NPR's Gifford writes with warmth and affection of his encounters with truckers, small farmers and regular folk along fabled Route 312 from Shanghai to the border of Kazakhstan. (CHN433, $17.00)

Mao Zedong

Mao Zedong


by Jonathan Spence

  • BIOGRAPHY/MEMOIR
  • 2006
  • PAPER
  • 192 PAGES

Yale sinologist, writer and historian Spence tracks the life of the architect of the People's Republic from his provincial upbringing to his savage three-decade rule. (CHN66, $15.00)

Death of a Red Heroine

Death of a Red Heroine


by Qiu Xiaolong

  • MYSTERY
  • 2003
  • PAPER
  • 464 PAGES

Marvelously evocative of Shanghai and tremendously informative about China's transition towards a market economy in the 1990s, Inspector Chen of the Shanghai Police must find the murderer of a National Model Worker in this award-winning debut. The series continues with A Loyal Character Dancer (CHN412). (CHN374, $15.95)

Empress Orchid

Empress Orchid


by Anchee Min

  • LITERATURE
  • 2005
  • PAPER
  • 346 PAGES

In this novel of the glorious, decadent last days of 19th-century Imperial China, Min (Red Azalea, Becoming Madame Mao) combines her tale of a young girl from the provinces who marries an emperor -- and then improbably becomes the Last Empress -- with a lovingly re-created portrait of life in the Forbidden City. (CHN267, $14.00)

The Way of the Panda

The Way of the Panda


by Henry Nicholls

  • NATURAL HISTORY
  • 2012
  • PAPER
  • 304 PAGES

Nicholls, whose previous book was on the Galapagos tortoise, here turns to the panda as a powerful political and cultural symbol for modern China as well as for conservation. (CHN673, $15.95)

More Recommendations

Here are some other groups of books that might be of interest

Longitude provides recommended reading for travelers in partnership with the leading tour operators and travel programs for hundreds of destinations worldwide. We've got the classic, new and hard-to-find books and maps to help you get the most out of your adventures.