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Tai-Pan by James Clavell

Tai-Pan (original 1966; edition 1986)

by James Clavell

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3,090312,821 (4.06)59
"It is the early 19th century, when European traders and adventurers first began to penetrate the forbidding Chinese mainland. And it is in this exciting time and exotic place that a giant of an Englishman, Dirk Straun, sets out to turn the desolate island of Hong Kong into an impregnable fortress of British power, and to make himself supreme ruler-- Tai-Pan!"--P. [4] of cover.… (more)
Authors:James Clavell
Info:Dell (1986), Mass Market Paperback, 736 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Read before 2000

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Tai-Pan by James Clavell (1966)


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English (29)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (31)
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
A wonderfully well-written tale. I thoroughly enjoyed every word. ( )
  LeonardSmith1 | Nov 7, 2019 |
James Clavell’s Asian Saga is a wonder of adventure story writing that covers the long history of European engagement with the Far East, especially with Japan and China. The core of the series is the two books Tai-Pan and Noble House which follow the Struan family as they battle for mercantile success in Hong Kong.

Tai-Pan covers the founding of Hong Kong in the middle of the 19th century and the origins of many of the traditions, friendships, relationships and feuds between various families and factions, both Western and Chinese, that we see in their more mature context in Noble House.

Dirk Struan is the central character here and although he sometimes comes across as impossibly talented, lucky and omniscient he does represent the kind of driving mercantilism that defines the 19th century. The story drives along with plenty of brio and enough incident and twists to please anyone.

The western characters tend to be drawn as black or white, whereas the Chinese characters are more nuanced and subtle, perhaps representing the author’s clear respect for Asian culture.

The pidgin English used to represent interactions between westerners and Chinese is of its time (the book was written in the 1960s) and would probably not be acceptable today; but, it does show the gulf in communication between the two cultures. I did find the broad Scots accents of the Struans and the uncultured speech of th Brocks a little wearing. ( )
  pierthinker | Apr 23, 2019 |
What a fantastic book! I had read Shogun a couple of years ago and that book became one of my all time favorites. I don't know why it took me so long to try another book by Clavell, but I am glad I did. Tai-Pan is not quite as good as Shogun, but it was still an exciting read with a little bit of everything in it. It does a tremendous job with the historical subject of the creation of Hong Kong, and Clavell's ability to relay the thoughts of the dozens of characters is remarkable. I can't say enough about this book and recommend it for anyone who loves a long novel with a huge setting. ( )
1 vote msaucier818 | Apr 9, 2018 |
19th century English adventurer fights to make himself top dog in the new territory of Hong Kong ( )
  JackSweeney | Jan 13, 2017 |
I enjoyed this more than Shogun, mainly because the tension was ratcheted up by the quarrel between the Struans and the Brocks. ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 29 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
James Clavellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Jongerius, MargreetTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nimwegen, Arjaan vansecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Graag wil ik mijn dank uitspreken aan de bevolking van Hongkong, die me zoveel van haar tijd en kennis geschonken heeft en me een blik gunde in haar heden en verleden. Naatuurlijk is dit een roman en geen geschiedenisboek. Mannen en vrouwen die erin voorkomen, kwamen voort uit de verbeelding van de schrijver en er is geen enkel verband met personen of firma's uit het huidige of het vroegere Hongkong bedoeld.
For Tai-tai, for Holly, and for Michaela.
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Dirk Struan came up onto the quarterdeck of the flagship H.M.S. Vengeance, and strode for the gangway.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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