Reaktion’s new CityScopes series consists of concise, illustrated guides that provide a social and urban history from a city’s beginnings to the present day. Written by authors with unique and intimate knowledge of each city, these books offer fascinating vignettes on the quintessential and the quirky. In the first book of the series, Linda Jaivin explores a city at the heart of one of the world’s oldest civilizations and the capital of its newest superpower—Beijing. In China’s central city, Jaivin finds thousands of years of history dating back to our ancestors, a story that includes dynastic empires, sieges, massacres, rebellions, and political spectacle.
Recounting the lively history of the city, Jaivin discovers the Peking Man and the capital’s many legendary incarnations, such as the Cambaluc that Marco Polo wrote about in awe. She reveals it to be full of charismatic personalities and dramatic events, a place that has produced some of China’s most iconic works of literature, theater, and music. She also offers thought-provoking essays on contemporary topics ranging from the elemental problems of air and water to the vibrant art scene and the architectural adventurism of the city’s “hyperbuildings.” Generously illustrated, this guide provides helpful maps and suggested itineraries as well as practical recommendations for hotels, restaurants, museums, and other sites.
Taking readers to lakeshores, down into the subway, and around the bustling art districts, Beijing is the ultimate introduction to this extraordinary city for travelers and armchair explorers alike.