– Rana Mitter, author of Modern China: A Very Short Introduction
– Lucy Hornby, China Correspondent, Financial Times
– Martin Jacques, author of When China Rules the World
– John Keay, author of China: A History
by JONATHAN CLEMENTS
An Armchair Traveller’s History of Beijing presents the capital of China from its earliest beginnings as a campsite for primitive hominids (‘Peking Man’), through its fluctuating fortunes under a dozen dynasties. The site has been a capital for several states, including Mongolian chiefs and the glorious Ming emperors, whose tombs can still be found on its outskirts. Through Beijing, we can experience Chinese history itself, including its more famous residents − Khubilai Khan, Mulan, and Marco Polo. Special emphasis is placed on Beijing’s precarious heritage in the 21st century, as modern construction wipes out so much of the old city to make way for homes for twenty million people. As with others in the series, a Gazetteer offers detailed information on sites of tourist interest, including the pros and cons of different sections of the Great Wall, the right way to do the Forbidden City and the fast-disappearing relics of the city’s Manchu and Maoist eras. A chapter on food and drink examines not only local delicacies, but the many other Chinese dishes that form part of the rich dining traditions of the capital city.
Jonathan Clements is visiting professor at Xi’an Jiaotong University in China. He is the author of many books, including Modern China: All That Matters (2013) and An Armchair Traveller’s History of the Silk Road (2015), and the presenter of National Geographic’s Route Awakening, a TV documentary series on Chinese history.