Cracking China

book cover

Cracking China is new book that covers Chinese culture and traditions.

This is not another worthy tome on history, there are plenty of these already. Cracking China aims to inform and entertain with a collection of 60 self-contained topic arranged A-Z, indexed and cross-referenced.

Entries for Cracking China volume 1 include: Acupuncture, Concubines, Confucius, Dragons, Eunuchs, Face, Feng Shui, Feet, Great Wall, Kowtow, Kung Fu, Opium, Silk Road, Writing and Yin and Yang.

The content exposes some surprising topsy-turvy conventions in China. For example: wearing white not black at funerals; gardens on the inside not outside of houses; clapping in order to drive out demons not to show appreciation; south not north at the top of maps; writing from right to left not left to right; family names first not last and meals starting with fruit and ending with soup. The book explains these and many more contrary traditions. The entries highlight social conventions you need to know, misconceptions, cultural divergences and interesting facts.

Cracking China

Getting a copy of Cracking China

Amazon buy Cracking China link Buy your copy now from Amazon.
ISBN: 978-1-7399861-0-0
Price $9.49 or £6.99
161 pages with 62 black and white illustrations.
Also available as a Kindle eBook also from Amazon.
ISBN: 978-1-7399861-1-7
Price just $3.90 or £2.88
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Now that China is poised to be the leading nation on Earth, everyone needs to know more about this unique civilization. It seems Napoleon was right to warn us ‘when China wakes up she will shake the world’. Chinese culture and traditions are so surprisingly different to our own that we continue to stumble into mutual incomprehension.

Our increasing interaction with China has not kept step with our understanding of its traditions and culture. This imbalance will soon expose a general ignorance that, considering the myths and misunderstandings around, will appear insensitive and sometimes offensive. The Chinese have a saying “Viewing a leopard through a tube” 管中窥豹 guǎn zhōng kuī bào warning us that it's dangerous to act on limited information. Please feel free to contact me for further information about ‘Cracking China’.

Reviews on Amazon:

5 stars 5.0 out of 5 stars
Spicy revelations about a fascinating country
Reviewed by R M Wingfield in the United Kingdom on 26 October 2021

Just how different so many aspects of China are from the West becomes crystal clear in this fascinating chop suey of information, presented in readily digestible alphabetical bites. For example, as the author writes: “China has many topsy-turvy traditions compared to the west: wearing white not black at funerals; hats put on, not taken off, indoors; gardens on the inside of houses; clapping to drive out demons; south at the top of maps; writing from right to left; family names first; meals starting with fruit and ending with soup… …”.

This economical paperback describes the dawning realization in the mid-20th century of just how many inventions had been made by the Chinese thousands of years earlier, which came as a chastening surprise to us in the West. Adding oriental flavor to the book, many equivalent words are included in Chinese character form, from the world’s oldest language in continuous use. Having learned so much from this book, I look forward to further revelations in the next installment.

5 stars 5.0 out of 5 stars
An eye opening and fascinating read.
Reviewed by Les W. in the United Kingdom on 11 October 2021

The subject has been superbly tackled and the book is full of surprising facts and insights. I could dip in and out using the index to find topics of particular interest but beware, as with all excellent “dipping in and out” books, once you start dipping it's difficult to stop. Cracking China should be on every coffee table.

5 stars 5 out of 5 stars
This really helps you understand Chinese culture
Reviewed by R Wong in the United Kingdom on 24 October 2021

China is a different civilization and ‘requires a real effort towards understanding’ said Joseph Needham, the great Sinologist. This new book by Rob Stallard helps greatly to decode and explain many different aspects of Chinese culture. It is written in a lively and accessible style for the general reader, further aided by an excellent index (every book should have one) which cross-references the topics and is illustrated with the author?s own delightful line drawings. I had many ‘Well, I didn’t know that’ moments and recommend this for anyone wanting to find out more about this long civilization which is so little understood in the west. Cracking China Volume 1 makes a valuable contribution to Anglo-Chinese understanding. I look forward to more volumes.

Sample Page
Sample page 115 from the book.
Elephant chess piece


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All the references used for the Cracking China book are all here on this web site . There are over 500 of them. The information in the book has been carefully researched and all the original source references noted. Please let us know of broken links or updated information so we can add them to the web site.
Robert Stallard

About the Author

Robert Stallard studied at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University, UK at the time when the great sinologist Joseph Needham was Master. For the last thirty years Robert has been a director (and now a VP) of the charity Joseph Needham founded to encourage greater understanding of the Chinese people: The Society of Anglo-Chinese Understanding (SACU ). Seven years ago I started developing a web site all about China : China Sage . It has become one of the leading reference web sites about China and is now receiving over 50,000 visitors a month.

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