The Stone of Heaven

The Stone of Heaven : The Secret History of Imperial Green Jade

  • Paperback
By (author) Adrian Levy , By (author) Cathy Scott-Clark

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Diamonds, sapphires and rubies are commonly thought to be the world's most valuable gemstones but there is another that is even more precious. It is Imperial Green Jade, or jadeite. Since its discovery nearly 2,000 years ago, Imperial Green Jade has been worshipped, ingested and traded. Those who returned from Burma in the fifteenth century came with stories of a kingdom built entirely from the green stone - a place they called the 'Lost Valley of Capelan'. Today foreigners are barred from the place in northern Burma known as 'Jadeland', where thousands of soldiers guard the dictatorship's treasures. In order to be the first Europeans ever to get there, Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark had to persuade Rangoon's generals to escort them. This book reveals how they did so and in its final chapters takes the reader on a terrifying journey to the 'Lost Valley of Capelan'. What they discovered was jadeite's biggest secret: a human disaster of biblical proportions.

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  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 131 x 197 x 32mm | 385g
  • 07 Feb 2002
  • Orion Publishing Co
  • Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
  • London
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 16, 2 maps
  • 0753813297
  • 9780753813294

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Author Information

Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark were staff writers for the SUNDAY TIMES in London before becoming foreign correspondents in Asia. THE STONE OF HEAVEN was listed in the SUNDAY TIMES 100 Best Books of the Year.

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Review text

Initially thrilling and ultimately horrifying history of a precious and pernicious gemstone. According to British journalists Levy and Scott-Clark, ever since jadeite, a gem the color of a kingfisher's neck feathers, was unearthed at its single source in northern Burma, it has left a wake of sorrow in its burn through history. The Stone of Heaven has stolen hearts, but mostly it seems to have stolen minds, for people have gone to outrageous ends to possess it. Much of this reads like a well-paced thriller. Kublai Khan set special store by the stone, which came from a smoky jungle rarely crossed by any but elephant trappers and was guarded by mythological creatures. Jadeite was coveted enough to start wars for control of its mines and it has never ceased to inspire greed and depravity. But the stone's 20th-century history is less romantic and more sordid, with an array of sad-sack characters pursuing it: consider the "peanut-headed Sun Tzu scholar" Chiang Kai-shek, his dreadful and rapacious wife Madame Chiang, or the pathetic Barbara Hutton, all of whom found jadeite useful. The narrative becomes even more scarifying when the authors travel to present-day Hpakant, home of the mines in northern Burma. There they witness an appalling spectacle: barbaric mining conditions prompt rampant drug use by despairing miners who share needles and spread an HIV/AIDS epidemic among the local community of unprotected prostitutes. Neither the Burmese government nor the owners of the mines are interested in doing anything about the catastrophe other than exploiting it for jadeite production. Levy and Scott-Clark carry a compelling story back from the depths of a true circle of hell. (Kirkus Reviews)

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