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Chinese Gods: An Introduction to Chinese Folk Religion Paperback – 1 Jan 2009

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Blacksmith Books (1 Jan. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9881774217
  • ISBN-13: 978-9881774217
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 1.2 x 22 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,125,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Even Chamberlain would admit there's a lot more about Chinese folk religion, more than Chinese Gods (or even several books) could cover. But most readers will finish this book knowing substantially more than when they started it. -- Cairns Media Magazine, Jan 2009

The book is a fascinating collection of all major gods, and a great resource for any historical or religious bookshelf. -- HK Magazine, Feb 2009

For the uncountable numbers of overseas visitors who visit Chinese temples and puzzle over the carvings of fierce and gentle deities, or for those who wonder just who is being venerated in the small shrine at the back of a Chinese restaurant, this is a little gem of a book. -- China.org.cn, March 4, 2009

Review

The book is a fascinating collection of all major gods, and a great resource for any historical or religious bookshelf.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
How happy I was to find this book when living in Hong Kong. Until that point I knew nothing of the temples, gods, godesses and wonderful mythology that influences the culture still today. Unlike the few dry books that were available Chinese Gods with its vibrant photographs and Mr Chamberlains easy, relaxed explanation of the surrounding mythology and tales, gave me a valuable insight and encouraged me to explore, now with some understanding, the culture I was living in. Armed with his book I could enter the magical world of the temples and gods of South China each time learning a bit more for myself.Mr Chamberlain is generous with his wide ranging knowledge and shares it in a flowing manner, sliding from mythology to anecdotes to his own experiences while researching his book which makes it a very accessible read. I highly recommend Chinese Gods.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars 6 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chinese Gods 5 Feb. 2014
By Alisonfle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
How happy I was to find this book when living in Hong Kong. Until that point I knew nothing of the temples, gods, godesses and wonderful mythology that influences the culture still today. Unlike the few dry books that were available Chinese Gods with its vibrant photographs and Mr Chamberlains easy, relaxed explanation of the surrounding mythology and tales, gave me a valuable insight and encouraged me to explore, now with some understanding, the culture I was living in. Armed with his book I could enter the magical world of the temples and gods of South China each time learning a bit more for myself.Mr Chamberlain is generous with his wide ranging knowledge and shares it in a flowing manner, sliding from mythology to anecdotes to his own experiences while researching his book which makes it a very accessible read. I highly recommend Chinese Gods.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the "Goldilocks Guide" to Chinese religion 26 Dec. 2014
By cave dweller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book tries to connect the dots between scholarly histories of Chinese religion and what is actually practiced and believed by ordinary people. Take this statement: "It is hard to escape the conclusion that Confucius is the earth-god of the state." Most books wouldn't describe Confucius as an earth-god, but maybe if you poked around China you would observe that in practice he is venerated that way. The book is short and doesn't delve very deeply into those mysterious little suggestions, ostensibly because popular Chinese religion is an enigma that either gets grossly oversimplified or sinks into a quagmire if you try too hard to solve it. This author sought the "middle way."
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Definitely not for the academically inclined 11 Aug. 2011
By Anne M. Myers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I have no idea what Chamberlain is trying to accomplish with this book, but it had better not be helping people learn more about Chinese mythology, because this thing is a trainwreck. He admits up front that he hates pretty much every scholarly work on Chinese myth he's ever read ("One damn god follows another," he exclaims!) and refuses to emulate them, and boy does he follow through on that promise.

There's no discernible system of organization for the random stories and anecdotes he tosses around like unappetizing legumes, and furthermore he never cites sources or explains where he heard these stories he passes on, making it impossible to try to figure out where the regionalisms or interpretations might be among them. Even more hilarious is the fact that he straight-up refuses (and tells you so in the text) to attempt any kind of standard in his romanization of names and titles, leading to mass-scale confusion over what he's talking about when sometimes he uses modern pinyin, sometimes Wade-Giles, sometimes Cantonese names, sometimes Mandarin, and sometimes bizarre things he appears to be making up himself as he goes along.

We're meant to feel that this is all okay because he's making this stuff accessible to the layman, being a man of the people and whatnot. Sadly, this is also not true. His writing is an absolute pain to read; his tone and the thread of his conversation are meandering in the extreme and have an irritating quality of trying to sound knowledgeable but failing, and the intermittent whining about how scholarly sources aren't worth the paper they're printed on is aggravating and distracting. The total lack of coherent structure or organization within chapters makes trying to find any information a chore, and reading his self-satisfied tone gave me a headache.

In short, it is a terribly bad book when you are looking for concrete information on Chinese myth instead of random, unsourced anecdotes, and I am depressed that I spent ten dollars on it instead of finding something more appropriate for a student. If you're looking for a book with useful, coherent information on Chinese mythology rather than random, unsourced anecdotes, don't make my mistake.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chinese Gods: An Introduction to Chinese Folk Religion 4 Dec. 2010
By Susan Willingham - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have a collection of mythology and folk religion from all over the world and found this a great book to include. There is very little available in English about Chinese folk religion that does not water the text down to a modern fairy tale. I enjoyed this book and feel it offers a unique voice to a part of the Chinese culture not easily found in a English translation outside of a college setting. I have been out of school for years but I loved the read.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This Book Sucks 7 April 2012
By Marvin Donatto - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is probley the worse book I have tried to read in years. The author is all over the place never coming to a conclusion on anything. Stringing together a random number of sentences and saying nothing leaving the reader asking what the hell he is trying to say.
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