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While the book itself seems great, a well researched and compact history with lively prose, the narrator clearly knows no Chinese and her frequent mispronunciation of names and places makes for difficult listening. E.g. 中国 as jong gwa, 夏 as "shee-yah", 秋 as "chew" These and many more become rather grating and make it hard to take the content itself seriously. Would gladly buy the book again with a new narration
17 of 18 people found this review helpful
Would you try another book from John Keay and/or Anne Flosnik?
I could not finish this book not because the book is poor. Keay wrote a masterful book. But the narration was just simply horrible. Flosnik has a beautiful and engaging voice, but her pronunciation of Chinese names are just wrong, at least for the Chinese audience who are fluent in Chinese. But I could envision even for non-English speakers, the pronunciation is important as they want to correctly convey the right proper nouns in their discussions.
I am quite familiar with Chinese history, but even when I know the exact person, city, or situation (proper nouns) that Keay is referring to, I still have trouble connecting the dots - name dictated in the audio to the most common Mandarin pronunciation.
Of course, I realize it's perhaps unfair to blame Flosnick. But I do blame the publisher or the recording studio. In books like this, it's far more important to find someone who can speak the local languages. Even if the rest of the English has a Chinese accent, it's still far better to pronounce the local names correctly.
What was one of the most memorable moments of China?
Difficult to tell since most of the memorable moments have Chinese names and I can barely get through them.
How could the performance have been better?
See above. Find someone who actually speaks Chinese.
What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?
Disappointment. To me, this is just another whitewash.
Any additional comments?
Avoid the audio version of this book.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful