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James Clavell's Tai-Pan [Hardcover]

James Clavell
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 1983

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!

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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“Unforgettable!”—Chicago Tribune

“A fabulous epic of the Far East that will disturb and excite you…a thrilling and enticing tale of adventure and human relationships…dramatic episodes, exotic vignettes and heady descriptive passages.” –Baltimore Sun

“Clavell is, as always, a matchless tale-spinner.”—Cosmopolitan

“Every five or six years there appears on the horizon a book so vast in scope, so peopled with bold, colorful characters, it eclipses other efforts…. Such a book is Tai-Pan.”Pittsburgh Press

“Grand entertainment...packed with action...gaudy and flanboyant with blood and sin, treachery and conspiracy, sex and murder...fresh and vigorous.” —New York Times

From the Paperback edition. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

James Clavell, who died in 1994, was a screenwriter, director, producer, and novelist born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Although he wrote the screenplays for a number of acclaimed films, including The Fly (1958), The Great Escape (1963), and To Sir With Love (1967), he is best known for his epic novels in his Asian Saga.

From the Paperback edition. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for its price May 17 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have read the book twice before about 40 years ago and am still
Impressed by it. I have read all of James Clavell's books, before and
am doing it again as he was a GREAT Author.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book in the series Oct. 30 2013
By R. Papp
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I just had to buy this book to complete the series. Anything written by James Clavell is a worthwhile read and never a disappointment.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Review Aug. 7 2013
By John
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very enjoyable, I anticipated the ending. I would have liked the conclusion to have been different, however I would recommend the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent Kick-Off to Clavell's Asian Saga May 24 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
James Clavell began his Asian Saga with "Tai-Pan," and in doing so brought the Far East to life in an unparalleled fashion.
"Tai-Pan" tells the story of Dirk Struan, Tai-Pan ("Supreme Leader") of Struan's, more popularly known as the Noble House. First in everything (money, influence, panache, daring, etc.), the Noble House has tied its future to the rise of Hong Kong, which is "founded" in the book's first chapter.
Struan, who has founded the Noble House with the vast fortune he built as an opium smuggler along the Chinese coast (many of the trading houses in "Tai Pan" owe their fortunes to opium smuggling, although they euphemistically refer to themselves as "China Traders"), has used his influence in Britain and with certain Chinese figures to take Hong Kong for the British crown as a toehold in China. Guided by his near-mystical vision of the importance of China to the world's future (at this point, China is considered by many Europeans to be a profitless wasteland populated by "heathens"), Struan will fight and kill to defend Hong Kong.
Newly widowed, Struan is comforted by his Chinese lover, May-May, who is also one of Clavell's most wonderful characters. Teetering on the verge of a stereotypical "dragon lady," May-May is a woman of courage, cunning, refinement, humor, and great beauty. Clavell lets May-May speak in both English (hilarious malaprops abound) and in Chinese so the reader gets a true picture of May-May's intelligence. Prejudices being what they were, Struan is forced to keep May-May under wraps, as it were, although the legend of the Tai Pan's Chinese mistress abound.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This Book Worth a Look April 29 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Unlike many of the previous reviewers, I have no particular connection to Asia or an extensive knowledge of Chinese history, rather I am merely a fan of exciting stories and great writing and if the novel is full of interesting facts, then all the better. Tai-Pan fits the bill.
It is an engaging story about the European community in China just after the British have taken control of Hong Kong. It centers on Dirk Struan, a manipulative, shrewd, and charismatic man who happens to be the most powerful trader in Asia. There is intrigue, violence, romance and tragedy, but this all adds flavor to the epic story of how the British controlled their first stronghold in Asia. Clavell does an amazing job of creating realistic characters and incorporaring facts about the time period and his knowledege of the culture. Despite being a fictional account of this era, I learned a great deal about China, British trade and sailing in the 1800's.
I would recommend this book to everyone who enjoys historical fiction or just great writing and good stories. Further, this book is at least as good as Shogun and is a critical component of the Asia Saga, so it is a must read for people who enjoy Clavell's other books.
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4.0 out of 5 stars If 'A MUST READ' ever applies, it's to this book! April 28 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I'm an avid reader, have been my whole life, and I'm in love with Asia. At first, this book starts off rather slowley, giving you the low-down on basic history and building the massive amount of charectors. Clavell has always had a knack for using hundreds of charectors, each of whom you recognize imediately. About half way through Tai-Pan I was gripping my seat. Clavell has managed to stay true to history yet weave a beautiful, romantic, and heroic story around facts (as is his talent!) Truely a must read for historians, Asian enthusists and anyone who enjoys reading!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Asia Saga moves to Hong Kong April 20 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Clavell's Asia Saga is a masterpiece of historical fiction. In this edition, Clavell captures the creation of a great trading house amidst several themes common to the series:
- Characters with histories spanning multiple books
- Western pioneers meet Eastern tradition
- Intrigue at every turn
- History and cultural lessons when you least expect them.
Standalone, the book is fantastic. As part of the series, it is a treasure. Deep. Longlasting. For those impatient with the heft of the book (It carried me through several coast to coast flights), there is the video, but you'll lose quite a bit in the translation to film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Clavell at his best March 26 2004
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Just doesn't get better than this. I'd say it ranks right up with Shogun. The entire book is filled with everything you could ask for in a book (intrigue, suspense, action, intellect, love) and the ending is priceless. On reading the last paragraph, I threw my head back, laughed, then cried. Absolutely amazing work.
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