Yangtze by Philip Wilkinson
Flowing over 6275 km (3900 miles) from one end of China to the other, the Yangtze is vast, varied, and mysterious, like China itself. It rises in the highlands of Tibet, where glaciers drip and ooze to create a network of icy channels that join to form what the Chinese call simply Chang Jiang, the Long River. From here it snakes and cascades its way through some of the worlds most spectacular scenery precipitous mountains, narrow gorges, and lush lowlands of eastern China, made fertile by the mud spread by the rivers frequent flooding. Yangtze follows the river on this fascinating and varied course. As it does so it explores many aspects of the river that have intrigued Chinese and westerners alike. It looks at the rivers unique wildlife, from the dazzling colours of rhododendrons and camellias on its banks to the endangered creatures, such as the baiji river dolphin, that dwell in or on the banks of its waters. It describes the teeming human activity along the river the fishing, farming, and trade that make it a lifeline and a livelihood for millions. And it looks at the rivers role in some of the turning points in Chinese history, such as the wars of the Three Kingdoms Period, the culture of the Tang dynasty, the Taiping Rebellion, and the Long March of Mao and his communist allies. Finally, Yangtze looks at the changes and challenges affecting the river today. For the Yangtze stands at a turning point. The worlds biggest civil engineering project, the construction of the Three Gorges dam across the river, is nearing completion. Chinas government hopes that the enormous dam will control the rivers floods, open up further reaches to big ships, and generate hydro-electricity. Opponents of the scheme point to the damage to the environment, the human costs, and the enormous risks involved. Beautifully illustrated with outstanding photographs and specially created maps, Yangtze pictures the river at a crucial time in its long and absorbing history.