Sunday, November 07, 2010

石悅《明朝那些事兒》 (Shi Yue: Those Ming Dynasty Stuff)

Sometimes I feel embarrassed by my ignorance of China, which is less than an hour away. There are some household names that I am completely unaware of. An recent example is 石悅 (Shi Yue) and his bestseller 《明朝那些事兒》(Those Ming Dynasty Stuff).

A few things about Those Ming Dynasty Stuff:
  • First published in 2006;
  • Over 5 million copies sold in 3 years;
  • Best-selling history book ever;
  • One of the 30 best-selling books since 1949;
  • Winner of Best History Book Award;
  • Has been translated into English, Japanese and Korean.
Those Ming Dynasty Stuff is a seven-volume set about the history of Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644) by 石悅, Shi Yue. One may tend to think that Shi is a wise old historian at one of the major universities. Wrong.  Shi, who was trained in law, is a custom officer.  He wrote the first volume of Those Ming Dynasty Stuff when he was 26 and completed the seventh and last volume just before he reached 30.

There is an interview of Shi by CCTV, which is quite interesting.  How on earth would a 7-year-old pick up the "24 Histories" (二十四史) and start reading? (By the way, the "24 Histories" is not an ordinary book of history. The whole set contains 3213 volumes and about 40 million words, written in traditional classical form.)  Why should such a young person, who also enjoy video games and comic books, sometimes talk like someone who has lived many lives? Was he a historian in his previous life? 


Aileen said...

Thank you very much for this post. My parents will find it especially useful because they have been trying to read up for an upcoming China tour

Gweipo said...

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