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review 2016-07-15 06:22
Under Heaven - Guy Gavriel Kay

Guy Gavriel Kay is one of the best fantasy writers (or writers in general) around, so it was an excellent reading journey through the fictional Tang Dynasty land of Kitai. However, the editing in this could have been so much better. Beautiful passages often were made redundant by constantly repeating and rephrasing things previously said, in often the same way. And the overall slow pace and lack of climactic resolution would give traditional fantasy fans some pause.

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review 2011-08-15 00:00
The Jews of Kaifeng, China: History, Culture, and Religion - Xin Xu A good enough book, though the content is not as organized as it first seems and is often repetitive (sometimes concerningly so--what editor missed the repeated 12-line block quote on pages 41 and 87?). This is a history of the Jews in Kaifeng, primarily distilled from other sources. I'm not sure why people find it surprising that Jews, who were involved in merchant and lending trades, would be in Asia Major. I'm never sure if that's about oblique racism/antisemitism, Eurocentrism, US myopia about countries existing more than 300 years ago, or some other factor that stifles even logical speculation about the movement of people in the world. One needn't have been a lost tribe to be told to get out of country X and disperse. That Jews have been pretty good at this is demonstrated by the ongoing existence of Jewish communities.The book could have earned another star by having a map showing Kaifeng in relation to the silk road, or a schematic of the synagogue, or photos of the stelae, but there are no illustrations. Here's a map, and here's a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaifeng_Jews">a more linear and cricial account (with photos).I can't tell which part of the book is the author's original contribution to the literature. He usually reports rather than interprets. I found one interpretation on page 101 rather odd: "Even today, the Jewish descendants in Kaifeng still do not eat pork. It is interesting to compare the attitude toward dietary laws in Reform Judaism. The Kaifeng Jewish descendants seem more authentic than Reform Jews in this respect." Is the author suggesting that not eating pork is a more authentic expression of Judaism than is, say, adhering to a Jewish moral code? Or does "seem" suggest that he doesn't know whether Reform Jews eat pork? I'm not sure what "authentic" means, unless it is "historically similar." However, this is really the only jarring note in an otherwise interesting summary that can be read quickly because of its many redundancies.Posted by Shoshana at 2:36 PMEmail This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Google Buzz0 comments:Post a CommentOlder Post Home
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review 2011-08-07 00:00
Culture Shock! China: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette - Angela Eagan,Rebecca Weiner I like this series, but found this volume light on customs and etiquette. The history was nicely presented, considering how vast and old China is, but there was too much emphasis on moving to China and not enough on how to behave.
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