In preparing for a recent business trip to China (my first time going there), I asked one of my (Chinese national) colleagues for a few suggested books that provide a good overview of China, both from the historical perspective as well as the "touristy" perspective, and this is the book that was recommended to me.
I've had "China (Eyewitness Travel Guides)" (672 pages) for a couple of months, and found it fascinating reading but really didn't want to judge it until I had a chance to put it to the test while traveling in China. Well, I am here to tell you that the book performed great from that perspective as well. But before we get to that, let me point out that the first 70 pages of the book, providing a general overview and a summary of China's 5000 year history are nothing short of essential, and one of the things that set this book apart from many other China travel guides.
The real test of the book came for me when I was in some of the not so obvious places on my trip. Yes, we all have heard about and know some things of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, but what about places like Xi'An (in Shaanxi Province) and Xiamen (in Fujian Province), which I happened to visit. The information provided by this book is just excellent, and helped me prepare, both mentally and otherwise, for my trip. I agree that the "Where to Stay" and "Where to Eat" sections in the back of the book are not the best parts of the book, and frankly I did not use them for my trip, although I did find the practical tips such as "Do's and Don'ts of Eating Etiquette" quite helpful. Not only does this book make a great travel guide, but it is on top of that available here on Amazon for 40% off of the book's cover price. You can't go wrong with this.