“The elevator pitch for this book is The Monuments Men, the China side of the story. It’s about how people tried to preserve these precious works of art during wartime. It very much takes you into life within a fragmented and embattled China during World War Two. Any book that does that for a popular readership is important because in the English language world, there is still a tendency to forget just how central the battles fought in Asia were. There’s a default to just thinking about the European war, or about Japan and America and Pearl Harbor. So, I liked that about it. In addition, Brookes really makes some of the curators, who devoted themselves to going along with these works of art and hiding them in caves and other unlikely places, come to life as characters. There were very dramatic moments in the odysseys of the objects, and in describing them he draws on the diaries and in one case the poems of the curators to make them fleshed-out people.” Read more...
The Best China Books of 2022