Magazine article New Internationalist

The Stone of Heaven: The Secret History of Imperial Green Jade by Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark

Magazine article New Internationalist

The Stone of Heaven: The Secret History of Imperial Green Jade by Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark

Article excerpt

(Phoenix ISBN 0 75381 329 7)

Jade is a precious stone found only in an area of northern Burma where millions of years ago an upwelling of magma pierced the earth's crust. The beauty and mystique of this coveted material, much more valuable than diamonds, has led to a history in which splendour and ornamentation jostle with greed, exploitation and death.

In this intriguing book the reader is taken on an extended trip through jade's history from the 18th-century Chinese Emperor Qianlong, who wrote obsessive love poems to the substance, through to the gunboat diplomacy and opportunistic trade wars of the British. This is all diverting enough although, it has to be said, rather drably written. However, the book leaps to life in the final hundred pages when the authors clandestinely enter Burma and penetrate the secrecy and deceit surrounding the present-day mining of jade. …

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