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Title: 中國歷史名人: 智勇雙全的軍事家
Translated title: Chinese Historical Figures: Wise and Brave Strategists
Language: Chinese
Year: 2009

It’s difficult to review books I don’t fully understand. If the problem isn’t language (like in Gravity’s Rainbow), it’s okay, but that is the problem, well, let’s say its hard to give the book a fair evaluation. Still, this is what I will try to do.

To begin with, the format of this book is quite neat. It’s the first of four books in a series portraying famous persons in Chinese history, giving each around twenty pages or so, with smaller stories of other characters interspersed between chapters. This volume deals with great generals and soldiers. Rather than focusing on the persons and their lives in general, though, the text depicts famous instances in which the person was involved. This is a book for children, so this kind of design might be preferable. In the chapter about Sun Tzu, little is mentioned about his impact on future generations, what he achieved during his lifetime and so forth: Instead, the emphasis is placed on the time when he first became a general and some episodes during his career. As a grown-up, I find this a bit unsatisfactory, since I would have like to know some more basic facts.

Sadly, my Chinese is too poor to fully appreciate this book. Indeed, I would have had to use a dictionary in almost every sentence to understand, which wasn’t something I was prepared to do at the time. As it was, I understood the general meaning of most passages, but seldom any detail. Here it what the book looks like:

Rating this book is perhaps stupid, but I will do so anyway, based on the parts I did understand. The idea is good, the stories are interesting and entertaining, which merits a good grade of say four snails or so. However, the pictures are fairly ugly and as I said above, I think the presentation lacks some basic presentation of the character in question. Settling for a rating of three snails perhaps doesn’t seem fair, but it does reflect my opinion of this book.

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