Chinese History at Lunch

January 25, 2015 at 3:46 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , )

death of woman wangTitle:The Death of Woman Wang

Author: Jonathan D. Spence

Genre: History

When picking up books at bookstores, there’s always the lovely predicament of what to do during lunch hour.  As if any bookworm wouldn’t know what to do during lunch.  I like to pluck books that I would otherwise not read, things that probably wouldn’t make the cut when selecting reading material at home, but are intriguing nonetheless.

Chinese history and social commentary via anecdotes and tales from a specific region are fit the bill exactly.

Though Jonathan D. Spence’s The Death of Woman Wang is fairly short, and probably something I’d be able to get through over two cups of coffee at home, at work – with the distractions of barbecue sauce, walking (because I must always do a bit of walking), and a number of other lunch break occurrences – it took me a number of weeks to get through it.  (I only work on Saturdays, mind you.)

I have decided that even though I’m not keeping The Death of Woman Wang (I’m in purge mode and not keeping as many books as I have been inclined to in the past), I will read more of Spence’s work in the future.  Treason By the Book looks especially fascinating.

[Unrelated note to the book review: I just googled his name to see what else there might be and stumbled across his face. He’s endearingly handsome for an old fellow.]

Spence is a British-born Chinese historian (what an interesting description for a person).  He retired from Yale in 2008 – my childhood bestie attended Yale from 2002-2006, I wonder if she ever met him…

He has a warm way of relaying history.  He tells stories in a fashion that you’d think perhaps you were sitting around a fire listening to a beloved professor while on some sort of educational retreat.  He manages to do this without feeling novelized or ill researched.

I’ve been enjoying my Chinese History lunches, and I’m a little sad that they’re over.

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