China: Travel Literature Review

By Andrus, Simone | Focus, Spring 1992 | Go to article overview

China: Travel Literature Review


Andrus, Simone, Focus


A series of events has focused international interest on China. This includes the discovery of the terra cotta warriors in 1974, the opening of China to foreign travelers in 1980 and the Son of Heaven exhibit in 1989. All this interest has spawned hundreds of books on China and the Chinese.

Guides for China and Tibet

The China Guidebook by Fredric M. Kaplan, Julian M. Sobin and Arne J. de Keijzer. Eurasian Travel Guides Series. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1991. Grandaddy of the contemporary guidebooks for China. Updated regularly since 1979. Covers independent and group travel. Has a good section on business travel.

China: A Travel Survival Kit by Joe Cummings and Robert Storey. 3rd edition. Berkeley, CA: Lonely Planet, 1991. Probably the most popular guide, the "Bible" for independent travelers. Its 850 pages are packed with an enormous amount of practical information. The newest edition was much improved by the typesetting of Chinese characters.

China off the Beaten Track by Brian Schwartz. New York: St. Martin, 1983. At one time this was the only guide for the independent traveler. Its enthusiastic style can be a source for interesting, though no longer "off the beaten track" destinations.

Fielding's People's Republic of China 1992 by Ruth L. Malloy. Fielding's Travel Guide Series. NY: Fielding Travel Books, William Morrow & Co. Felt by some be the finest single volume guide to China. The author's culturally sensitive approach encourages travelers to involve themselves in discovering new aspects of Chinese life.

Southwest China off the Beaten Track by K. Mark Stevens and George Wehrfritz. Lincolnwood, IL: Passport Books, 1988. Extremely detailed guide to Guangxi, Guizhou, Yunnan, and Sichuan. Full of maps, and a nicely organized phrasebook.

Tibet -- A Travel Survival Kit by Michael Buckley and Robert Strauss. Berkeley, CA: Lonely Planet, 1986. New edition due out in 1992. Good description of overland routes to Tibet and a somewhat cultural approach to travel throughout the region. Tibet -- A Complete Guide by Elizabeth Booz. Lincolnwood, IL: Passport Books, 1987. Less practical information than Strauss', but written with much greater cultural sensitivity. Like the rest of the China Guides series this book is well designed and full of great pictures. Other guides in the series include Beijing, The Silk Road, and Shanghai.

The Tibet Guide by Stephen Batchelor. Boston: Wisdom Tibet Books, 1987. Excellent information on the culture and lamaseries of Tibet. Author is a Lamaist monk.

Other books of interest

The Arts of China by Michael Sullivan. 3rd edition. University of California Press, 1984. The fourth edition since 1961, this is the most complete work on Chinese art.

Buried Treasures of Chinese Turkestan by Albert von le Coq. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. Von le Coq, the German archaeologist who discovered the mural-covered cave of Bezeklik, provides an engrossing account of his adventures just after the turn of the century in what is now Xinjiang. Useful as a site guide, especially in the Turpan region.

China Alive in the Bitter Sea; by Fox Butterfield. New York: Random House, 1990. This correspondent's account of Today's. China' tends to exaggerate in its depictions of Chinese characters. If aware of this the reader can gain insight into Chinese life. Probably best read after a visit to China.

China: The Long March by Anthony Lawrence. London: Merehurst Press, 1986. Photographic retracing of the route of the Long March from southern China into the north in the 1930s. The Long March saw the beginning of Communist power among the peasantry.

The Chinese Looking Glass by Dennis Bloodworth. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1980. An historical examination of the West's view of the Chinese and vice versa. First published in 1967 and revised in 1980, it is in no way dated. …

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