The Terra Cotta Army by John Man

As you can tell from the title, The Terra Cotta Army by John Man is about the China’s Terra Cotta Army.  The Army was created by China’s First Emperor so that he could have an army to take with him to the afterlife  when he died.  The book is a combination history/tour book.

The book is divided into three parts:  Origins (discusses the formation of ancient China and how the Army was discovered); Beyond the Grave (provides a brief history The First Emperor and the establishment of his grave and the Army); and The Eighth Wonder (discusses how China has managed and promoted the Army, the First Emperor’s grave, and accompanying sites).

Not knowing much about the Terra Cotta Army or the history of China surrounding the Army, Man does a good job of explaining both.  Don’t expect a minute explanation of the time period, but Man provides a broad enough description to give you an idea of the time period surrounding the creation of the Army.

I think some of the best parts of the book deal with the discovery and uncovering of the Army and the surrounding sites.  Man’s descriptions are accompanied by excellent color photographs of the archeological site and individual clay soldiers.   Some of the best photographs picture the restoration process for the soldiers and other objects found in nearby sites.

As Man describes the various aspects of the Army and its story, he gives a good tour of the surrounding area.  He visits other sites that give important clues to the creation of the Army.  For example, he visits a factory that produces replica clay soldiers.  This visit allows you to better understand how the soldiers were originally made.

Finally, based upon his writing, you can tell that Man enjoys his profession.  His excitement in getting to see some of the clay soldiers up-close is genuine.  This excitment rubs off on you and you understand why the Terra Cotta Army enjoys the curiosity of millions of visitors.

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