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200 × 120 × 18 mm
288 pages
112 illustrations, 90 in colour
01 May 2014
  • £14.95

  • This edition is currently unavailable

Beijing Linda Jaivin

Beijing is an intimate and informed portrait of a city at the centre of one of the world’s oldest civilizations and the capital of one of its newest superpowers. For hundreds of thousands of years, humans and their ancestors – Peking Man among them – have lived here. Over three and a half millennia, cities have risen and fallen in this place, five of them the capitals of dynastic empires. For centuries the stage for sieges, massacres, rebellions and political spectacle, Beijing has produced or inspired some of China’s greatest and most iconic works of literature, theatre and music.

At this book’s heart is a concise, lively history of the city, full of big and charismatic personalities and dramatic events. Thought-provoking essays on topics ranging from the elemental problems of water and air to the vibrant art scene and the architectural adventurism of the city’s ‘hyperbuildings’ take the reader to the shores of the city’s lakes, down into its subway system and through its bustling art districts.

Generously illustrated with modern photographs and compelling historical images and containing a number of useful listings, Beijing is the ultimate introduction to this extraordinary city for travellers and general readers alike.

‘Cityscope’s new guides take a different tack, weighted towards in-depth social and urban history. Its Beijing and Buenos Aires guides will fully arm visitors with context as well as must-sees.’ — Wanderlust

‘a pithy snapshot of a complex city and its dynasties, literature, theatre, music, shopping and charismatic characters . . . For travellers and general readers, this book is the place to start.’ — Sydney Morning Herald

‘Linda Jaivin writes with feeling, wit and great insight on the history of Beijing, bringing to life the great city’s many splendours.’ — Jasper Becker

‘With intelligence and wit, Beijing is the perfect traveling companion for visitors old and new. At last, a book to carry on all of your wanderings through this incomparable city.’ — Michael Meyer, author of The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed

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Linda Jaivin is a novelist, essayist, translator (from Chinese) and playwright, and a regular visitor to and occasional resident of Beijing since 1980. Her books include Eat Me (1995), A Most Immoral Woman (2009), The Monkey and the Dragon (2001) and New Ghosts, Old Dreams: Chinese Rebel Voices (co-edited with Geremie Barmé, 1992). She lives in Sydney.



1. Wild Years

2. Khanbalik

3. The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)

4. The Qing Dynasty  (1644-1911)

5. The Republic, Japanese Occupation and Civil War (1912-1949)

6. Revolution (1949-1976)

7. Reform: The First Decades (1976-2007)

8. Ringing in the New

The City Today

In the Shadow of the Drum Tower

The Dragon’s Vein

‘Chinese Town’

The Circle Line

The Thirsty City

On the Art Trail

The Nest, the Cube, the Underpants and the Egg

A Taste of the City

The Prince’s Garden




Suggested Reading and Viewing


Photo Acknowledgements