Green Dragon, Sombre Warrior
The ancient Chinese divided the zodiac into four quadrants, each with its own ruler - the Green Dragon of the East, the Scarlet Phoenix of the South, the White Tiger of the West and the Sombre Warrior of the North. They believed that these, and the interaction of the five elements - wood, fire, earth, metal and water - governed human affairs and that together they demonstrated a unity in multiplicity, a harmony in divergence. Taking the same frame of reference, Liam d'Arcy Brown set out to travel to the four corners of the People's Republic in an attempt to reconcile modern China's seemingly irreconcilable extremes. His 10,000-mile journey took him to an isolated fishing community in the East China Sea, a tropical holiday resort on the tip of Hainan Island, a Muslim city on the Silk Road and a riverside village in remote Manchuria. In each, he discovered aspects of China that the wider world seldom glimpses. Yet despite the astonishing contrasts of her physical and social geography, the variety of her peoples and the tangled web of her many histories and possible destinies, some constants remain.Pork buns steaming in a bamboo basket, gold Chinese characters pasted to a doorway on a red paper diamond, empty crates of beer bottles, a battered thermos flask stencilled with the Double Happiness symbol - all these endure.
- Hardback | 288 pages
- 144 x 223 x 30mm | 490g
- 01 Mar 2004
- John Murray Press
- John Murray Publishers Ltd
- United Kingdom
- 16pp b&w plates, maps, line drawings
'Historical insight, Chinese mythologies, modern commentary are all deftly interwoven with the narrative of his own odyssey ... This is an impressive debut' -- Daily Telegraph 'D'Arcy Brown proves himself to be an intrepid traveller as he goes by train, bus, motorbike and foot where few Westerners have gone before. Into his travelogue he weaves some of the history of China, and he turns out to be a very good historian ... His debut is a moving and chilling book. Let us hope there are many more to come' -- The Times 'This familiar type of book is enriched by the depth of Liam D'Arcy Brown's sinology and the acuity of his observations' -- Observer 'D'Arcy Brown marshals an enjoyable selection of anecdotes and legends to set his destinations in historical context. But by far the most absorbing part of his travelogue consists of conversations with travelling companions ... An engaging combination of travelogue and history' -- Times Literary Supplement 'The four corners motif lends a quiet cohesion to his journey, but far more integral is his exploration into the ways in which China has responded to the rapid infiltration of Western culture ... This is a beautifully written travelogue attaining the perfect balance between social comment and personal experience' -- Wanderlust 20030401 "His penetrating, often funny observations ... make for a fascinating read" -- Daily Mail 20040116 'Alongside vivid description of landscape and people, Brown discreetly works in insights into the highly complicated history of this enigmatic country' -- Bolton Evening News 20040221 'A fascinating account of China's extremes, interwoven with historical insight ... The beautifully written narrative is highly descriptive and provides a depth of personal experience' -- East Anglian Daily Times 20040221 'This accomplished report from the four corners of a diverse nation' -- The Times 20040101 'The author observes China intimately, regularly conversing with people he meets. This gives readers an insight into what life in China is like. D'Arcy Brown is also knowledgeable about Chinese history and culture. And he meets an interesting mix of people; the author's descriptions are memorable and vivid ! Green Dragon, Sombre Warrior is a well-written, intelligent account of contemporary China through the perspective of ordinary people' -- South China Morning Post 20040101 'A voyage to the extremes of the Chinese universe sounds like a wondrous if slightly terrifying experience, and this vivid account matches up to those hopes and fears ! A short but incisive book that deftly weaves in some fascinating historical background. The author has a lightness of touch that makes it a highly evocative read' -- China Review 20030901
About Liam Brown
Liam D'Arcy Brown grew up in Yorkshire and studied Mandrin and Classical Chinese at Oxford. He went on to read Ancient Chinese History in Shanghai before working and travelling in China. "Green Dragon, Sombre Warrior" is his first book. He lives in Kenilworth.