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1. Contemporary 2. Late Modern 2021 Asia ★★★☆☆ Reviews

From Rebel to Ruler

★★★☆☆ (2021)
My in-laws like to tell a story about when the communists came to town. Their home was in a small village just outside the county town, about 5 hours west of Beijing. In the 1930s and 1940s the town was overrun by the Japanese…

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1. Contemporary 2. Late Modern 2019 Asia ★★★☆☆ Reviews

Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister

★★★☆☆ (2019)
This is a book about the three most famous sisters in Chinese history: the Soong sisters. They were international celebrities: highly educated, politically pivotal and ridiculously rich. They embodied the changes and tensions of early twentieth century China as the country set its political engine-room to warp speed 9…

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2. Late Modern 2021 Asia ★★★★☆ Reviews

The Last Embassy

★★★★☆ (2021)
“The Dutch present ships have arrived at the Tiger’s Mouth, like tall inns on the oyster-shell mirror of the water, a joyful noise ringing out.
They’re filled with precious offerings, but first they must transmit their official document, wrapped in gold.
荷兰贡舶虎门收,蠔镜声嚣水上楼。
琛献先传金叶表,翎开还整翠云裘。”
Wang Wengao 王文诰

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2021 4. Middle Ages Asia ★★★★☆ Reviews

The Horde

★★★★☆ (2021)
I first learned to fear the power of the Mongols while playing the computer game Medieval II Total War. Playing as king of the English I was pretty pleased with my thuggish army of knights and archers. By the year 1250 they had expanded my empire into most of France, a good proportion of the German states and also the Russian principalities. A small advance force of bowmen and men-at-arms had just attacked and captured Novgorod (unprovoked) when the Mongols appeared on the horizon.

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2. Late Modern 2021 3. Early Modern 4. Middle Ages Asia ★★☆☆☆ Reviews

Empire of Silver

★★☆☆☆ (2021)
Silver mining is not an easy job – when you dig the raw ore out of the ground it typically contains less than 0.1% silver – 1 part in a thousand. You then have to go through a laborious process of discarding the the 0.99% that you don’t want and turning that precious 0.1% into something shiny, attractive and valuable. Reading the financial history book “Empire of Silver: a new monetary history of China” by Jin Xu can feel a bit like mining silver. The valuable nuggets of insight can feel very laborious to extract. After you have finished you will have a little pile of intellectual treasures but many readers may feel that the payoff was not worth the effort.

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2018 5. Ancient Asia ★★★☆☆ Europe Reviews

Soldier, Priest, and God

★★★☆☆ (2018)
Alexander the Great is one of the most famous, and studied, figures in history. What more is left to be said? According to Professor Fred Naiden, rather a lot. In his opening chapter of Soldier, Priest and God: A Life of Alexander the Great, he asserts that ‘among the hundreds of Alexander biographies, none has focused on the topic of religion’…