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History in images

By Mei Jia (China Daily)

08:35, May 14, 2013

Cyclists jostle for space on a wide boulevard in Shanghai, in 1991. With about 500 million bikes on the road by the late 1980s, China was known as the kingdom of two-wheelers. Photos provided to China Daily

There have been many textbooks on the history of China published over the past century. Now, there is a book of photographs charting the dramatic changes in the people's lives. Mei Jia reviews the new English release.

New World Press editor Li Shujuan knows it's no easy task to tell the history of more than a century of a country like China, especially since it has experienced dramatic changes over the years. Li's solution is to use photographs. In the publisher's new English-language release of Modern China in Pictures: 1911-2012, Li chooses to let the powerful images convey the historical complexity.

She says in the early stages of planning, she wanted a comprehensive book covering every aspect of China's social, political, economical and cultural life. But she became less ambitious later.

"For better impact, we decided to concentrate on photos showing daily scenes and changes in people's life," Li says.

The final product is a book with "all things related to people", Li explains. Instead of images that can be found in history textbook, such as portraits of leaders and important meetings, the book focuses on transportation, clothes, fashion, entertainment and family life.

The book won praise after a trial reading comprising foreign editors, for including "something novel and seldom seen".

With 450 pictures selected out of 1,000, mostly contributed by China News Service, Li and her team categorized the book into six crucial sections.

Li says compiling the book was like making a film.

【1】 【2】 【3】 【4】 【5】

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