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Publisher's Summary

From the Yangtze to the Yellow River, China is traversed by great waterways, which have defined its politics and ways of life for centuries. Water has been so integral to China's culture, economy, and growth and development that it provides a window on the whole sweep of Chinese history. In The Water Kingdom, renowned writer Philip Ball opens that window to offer an epic and powerful new way of thinking about Chinese civilization.

Water, Ball shows, is a key that unlocks much of Chinese culture. In The Water Kingdom, he takes us on a grand journey through China's past and present, showing how the complexity and energy of the country and its history repeatedly come back to the challenges, opportunities, and inspiration provided by the waterways.

Drawing on stories from travelers and explorers, poets and painters, bureaucrats and activists, all of whom have been influenced by an environment shaped and permeated by water, Ball explores how the ubiquitous relationship of the Chinese people to water has made it an enduring metaphor for philosophical thought and artistic expression.

©2016 Philip Ball (P)2017 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"This is a one-stop examination of water's primacy in Chinese history, and a well-written one at that." ( Publishers Weekly)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Narrator is great. Content is a bit lacking.

I like the narrator. Very clear and fluid delivery. Good pronunciation of the Chinese words.

The book itself is a bit lacking. Sounds more like a collection of loosely connected information, instead of a book that explores the secret history of China. And since it’s in Audible format, I got lost several times as to which chapter I was on. They all sounded the same after the first hour.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Real History with great narrative

What made the experience of listening to The Water Kingdom the most enjoyable?

Worthwhile read about the history of China. Very well thought out connections between the geography and landscape of the country and how this has influenced it as a nation over the centuries. The narrative is easy to follow and moves along at a fast pace without compromising accuracy. Highly recommend even if you’re casually interested in history; but especially recommend if you’re a student/enthusiast of history.

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  • Luca Nicotra
  • 06-14-18

Excellent overview of China's history

On the importance of water ways in the history of China, both practically and symbolically.