Book review: The Story of China

The Story of China

Michael Wood

Simon & Schuster UK

Review: Roshiela Moonsamy

Author Michael Wood admits that writing about China’s history was a daunting task.

“With more than three millennia of written records, it has a vast history − small libraries have been written about each of my individual chapters!”

Wood’s journeys to China, as a traveller and broadcaster, have extended over four decades.

He writes with insight and eloquence, painting a brilliant picture of a country which we hear about every day but whose rich, vibrant history most of us know so little about.

The historical characters are brought to life through the stories of empires and dynasties but the voice of ordinary people also comes through such as in letters by soldiers in the Qin military − the “real-life Terracotta Army”; and between Buddhist monks in China and India in the Tang dynasty.

Subheaded: “A Portrait of a Civilisation and its People”, there are pilgrims, poets and revolutionaries woven into the pages of this in-depth tome.

In the final chapter, The Rise of the New China, Wood provides analysis of China’s place in the world today, not shying away from any difficult topics.

In the afterword, he discusses the outbreak of Covid-19 in the city of Wuhan.

This beautiful keepsake, which includes maps and colour pictures, will provide you with many hours of engrossing armchair and time travel.