Understanding The Dragon – China In Photos
I recently read two books that made me realise that I know next to nothing about China or it’s history. Considering the country’s importance and influence in today’s world it ocurred to me that this is quite an oversight in our educational system. Surely the world would be a better place if we all knew more about each other, our cultures, histories and points of view?
The two books in question are The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall and Fried Eggs With Chopsticks by Polly Evans. The Russian Concubine is a historical novel and tells the story of a young Russian girl living in exile in China at the beginning of the 20th century with her mother. It’s beautifully written, meticulously researched and brilliantly captures life in China at that time.
Fried Eggs With Chopsticks is the story of Polly Evans travels around China, from the metropolises of Beijing and Shanghai to primitive rural areas. Comical and insightful, Evans writes about her impressions of modern China and relates her observations to the country’s often tragic and always interesting history.
So, if you want to find out more the Opium Wars, British colonisation, communism and Chairman Mao’s disastrous Great Leap Forward, I recommend both these books.
China In Photos
With the world’s attention now firmly on China, thanks to the Olympics, a spectacular opening ceremony and the ongoing debates about human rights, Tibet, and so on, and knowing that China is an incredibly beautiful and photogenic country, I searched for the work of photographers and photojournalists who have worked in that country. With a special mention to Tewfic El-Sawy’s blog The Travel Photographer (where I found most of these links) here are my favourites:
The Big Picture
The Boston Globe’s photography blog. Spectacular photos of the opening ceremony.
David Lehman Photography – Faces of China
David Lehman trained to be a lawyer then decided to be a photographer – take a look at his beautiful, grainy portraits.
A freelance photographer based in Beijing. Click on the Portfolio link to see her photo galleries.
David Gray – The People and Landscape of South-West China
A beautiful multimedia slideshow.
Christopher Wise – Shangri-La
Life in Tibet.
Magnum Photos – A Flipbook on China
A multimedia slide show depicting the changes in China over 30 years.
National Geographic – China Issue
The table of contents for the recent National Geographic China issue. Astounding photos.
Another freelance photographer based in Beijing.
Eve Arnold – In China
The Magnum photographer’s famous book, the result of two trips to China in 1979.
Sidney D Gamble’s Historical Photos of China
5000 photos taken between 1917 and 1932.