What We Are Reading Today: Art and Archaeology of the Erligang Civilization

Updated 28 August 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Art and Archaeology of the Erligang Civilization

  • This richly illustrated book is the first in a western language devoted to the Erligang culture

Named after an archaeological site discovered in 1951 in Zhengzhou, China, the Erligang civilization arose in the Yellow River Valley around the middle of the second millennium BCE.

Shortly thereafter, its distinctive elite material culture spread to a large part of China's Central Plain, in the south reaching as far as the banks of the Yangzi River. The Erligang culture is best known for the remains of an immense walled city at Zhengzhou, a smaller site at Panlongcheng in Hubei, and a large-scale bronze industry of remarkable artistic and technological sophistication.

This richly illustrated book is the first in a western language devoted to the Erligang culture. It brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines, including art history and archaeology, to explore what is known about the culture and its spectacular bronze industry. 

The opening chapters introduce the history of the discovery of the culture and its most important archaeological sites. Subsequent essays address a variety of important methodological issues related to the study of Erligang, including how to define the culture, the usefulness of cross-cultural comparative study, and the difficulty of reconciling traditional Chinese historiography with archaeological discoveries. 

The book closes by examining the role the Erligang civilization played in the emergence of the first bronze-using societies in south China and the importance of bronze studies in the training of Chinese art historians.

The contributors are Robert Bagley, John Baines, Maggie Bickford, Rod Campbell, Li Yung-ti, Robin McNeal, Kyle Steinke, Wang Haicheng, and Zhang Changping.


What We Are Reading Today: Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer

Updated 21 February 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer

  • The book not only lays down rules but offers tips for writers who want to be clear and elegant as well as correct

Benjamin Dreyer has presented a splendid book that is part manual, part memoir, and chockfull of suggestions for tightening and clarifying prose. 

“Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style” is a treat for those who delight in words and arranging them well. 

The book not only lays down rules but offers tips for writers who want to be clear and elegant as well as correct, states Sarah Lyall in a review published in The New York Times. 

Dreyer is vice president, executive managing editor and copy chief, of Random House. He began his publishing career as a freelance proofreader and copy editor. 

A graduate of Northwestern University, he lives in New York City. He has copyedited books by authors including E. L. Doctorow, David Ebershoff, Frank Rich, and Elizabeth Strout, as well as Let Me Tell You, a volume of previously uncollected work by Shirley Jackson.