Two books have been published in Shanghai to combine Chinese and Western perspectives on Chinese history and language, in the latest effort to make understanding China less difficult and more entertaining for foreigners.
"History Flashback" and "Language Empowerment" are written in English by both Chinese and foreign authors and released by the Shanghai Translation Publishing House as part of the "China Simplified" project.
Stewart Lee Beck from the United States co-authors the two books with three Chinese writers.
Beck said he has found Chinese people and culture "endlessly fascinating" since he moved to China in 1992.
"In the past, the rich history of China was too often obscured by dull prose and pompous exegesis," said Beck, whose "History Flashback" takes a humorous yet easily understandable approach to interpreting Chinese history. In one chapter, it compares Emperor Huizong with Steve Jobs as they share the same passion for artistic fonts.
The other book "Language Empowerment" spins story after story about the many pitfalls of learning Mandarin Chinese.
Sun Zhumin, one of the Chinese authors, said that it took them six years to complete the two books.
"Chinese history and culture are indeed very complicated for foreigners. But it may be less difficult to understand China if we look for similarities in Western cultures and take an approach with humor and humanity," she said.