on 12 November 2009
This book contains a wealth of really useful, up-to-date practical information, much of which you won't find in your Chinese language text book. The section on grammar is an excellent summary that really helps put things in perspective, and the section on pronunciation does an excellent job of explaining usually unexplained technical terms such as 'aspirated' and 'palatals'. There is a section on characters that degenerates a little into lists under 'radical' headings, which would not necessarily be a bad thing except for the one disappointment with the book; the complete lack of an index. Although the book is not marketed as a reference text, the wealth of examples and explanation makes it highly frustrating that you cannot search an index for a particular construct or character that you are struggling with. There is a scholarly section on the history and dialects and useful suggestions for further reading (advice I have followed and am very happy with). The book is engagingly written and the most enjoyable book I have read on the language since starting my studies. Oh, and all the language examples are given in characters, pinyin and English.