Cover image for Encyclopedia of China : the essential reference to China, its history and culture
Encyclopedia of China : the essential reference to China, its history and culture
Perkins, Dorothy.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Facts on File, [1999]

Physical Description:
ix, 662 pages : illustrations, map ; 29 cm
General Note:
"A Roundtable press book."
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS705 .P47 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

On Order



Completely up-to-date and comprehensive, the Encyclopedia of China reveals the beauty, tragedies, and triumphs of this more than 3,000-year-old civilization. More than 1,000 extensively cross-referenced A-to-Z entries explore geography; population and lifestyle; religion and popular culture; arts and crafts; literature, performing and martial arts; history; current politics and economics; and foreign relations and trade.

Author Notes

Dorothy Perkins is a freelance writer with a background in Asian history. She holds a Ph.D. in religion from Temple University and is the author of Japan Goes to War: A Chronology of Japanese Military Expansion from the Meiji Era to the Attack on Pearl Harbor. She resides in Philadelphia, PA.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This encyclopedia, by the author of Encyclopedia of Japan [RBB F 15 91], is a fairly comprehensive work on the span of Chinese history up to the present. It differs significantly from Companion to Chinese History (Facts On File, 1987) in its treatment of general concepts within the context of China and Chinese culture. While the emphasis is on the history, personalities, and geography of China, many entries address the significance of things such as mirrors, calligraphy, and various animals and foods. Entries are arranged alphabetically and cover a broad range of topics, including religion, politics, Westerners prominent in Chinese history, cities, regions, the arts, and history. Copious cross-references facilitate browsing. Although main entries for Chinese words are found under the pinyin system of romanization, the older standard (Wade-Giles) is acknowledged and cross-references are provided. Thus, while the main entry for the capital of the People's Republic of China (PRC) is under Beijing, there is a see reference under Peking. The entries can be somewhat redundant, offering too much detail on related concepts covered in more detail elsewhere in the volume. However, the information contained in the entries is a nice blend of the scholarly, the cultural, and the commonplace. Entries for cities, for example, contain basic information of interest to travelers, such as major attractions and climate. Following the entries, there is a bibliography of suggested readings. While brief, this is a solid and up-to-date list of relevant secondary materials for more in-depth research needs. A detailed index includes citations to main entries, tables, and illustrations. The 50 black-and-white photographs are largely decorative, and do not usually assist in the understanding of the entries. The author has included some helpful tables (e.g., the Wade-Giles to pinyin conversion table and a chronology of dynasties) which would have been more useful had they been placed at the end of the work as appendixes. No maps are included. Given the quality and coverage of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of China [RBB F 15 92], many libraries may not see the need for another encyclopedia of China. However, with the ongoing changes in Chinese society, libraries may want to purchase a newer volume that discusses modern China directly. The current volume does an adequate job of bringing the reader up to date, and thus this will be a useful addition to many collections, especially in public and school libraries. A less-detailed, though much more scholarly work, covering the entire span of Chinese history is China: A Cultural and Historical Dictionary (Curzon, 1998), which would be a more appropriate choice for academic libraries.

Choice Review

This new encyclopedia explores all aspects of China's past, present, and future in more than 1,000 entries, arranged alphabetically, ranging from short paragraphs to long essays, some with black-and-white photographs, and with excellent cross-references. Since the romanization of Chinese words may cause confusion, the compiler emphasizes pinyin, "but Wade-Giles equivalents are noted and cross-referenced [sometimes preferring] the Wade-Giles version of a name or a term because it is well-known to Western readers." The reading list of standard works is helpful. There are several mistakes in the text; for example, a passage occurs on both p.69 and 428: "When Chiang Kai-shek died in 1975, Chiang Ching-kuo became interim president until March 21, 1978, when the National Assembly formally elected him to a six-year term as president." In fact, Chiang was succeeded by Vice President Yen Chia-kan; the junior Chiang was prime minister at the time and was inaugurated president on May 20, 1978. Under "Taipei", the description of the National Palace Museum asserts, "The museum contains the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall." In fact, the memorial hall is located in the heart of the city and is not part of the museum, which is in a northern suburb. The entry for Tiananmen Square describes "the Great Hall of the People's Congress of the Chinese Communist Party"; instead of "Chinese Communist Party," "People's Republic of China" must be meant. The present work is nevertheless more up-to-date than Encyclopedia of New China (Beijing, 1987) or Cambridge Encyclopedia of China, ed. By Brian Hook (CH, Mar'83; 2nd ed., 1991), and is a handy, current, and attractive reference source for general and college readers. W. S. Wong University of California, Irvine