Everything you ever wanted to know about the history of jadeite and the intrigues and conflicts that surround it. Excellent reading for anyone who is a Chinese or Burmese history buff. This book also examines the social and health issues associated with mining jadeite in Burma today.
From the dust jacket:
For almost a thousand years, jadeite has been worshiped and ingeted for its life-extending powers, as well as vernated by concubined and used for lovemaking with its erotic properties. Emporerors filled their palaces with jadeite jewelry and fought battles for its possession. One eighteenth-century emperor ransomed his entire kingdom for the stone. Jadeite has lost none of its allure in the modern world, and celebrities from Marlene Dietrich to Dannielle Steele have collected it.
Western explorers have searched for the source of the stone since the thirteenth-century, but the mine's guardians have kept them out until now. Journalists and explorers Adrian Levy and Cathy Scott-Clark were first intrigued when they began hearing rumors of a lost Burmese mine, which was side to have become a secret government project. When a jadeite neckless was sold for almost 10 million dollars at a Hong Kong auction, they were obsessed enough to come up with a daring plan to reach the mine and discover the truth about this most coveted stone. Isolated by a vindictive Burmese dictatorship, the Imperial Green Jade mine is nearly impossible to reach today. This book reveals how Levy and Scott-Clark persuaded the generals to take them there and, in its final chapters, records their terrifying journey to uncover Imperial Green Jade's biggest secret.
The Stone of Heaven is the first bok to reveal the bizarre and high stakes history of this seductive gem--a stone that shaped the destiny of nations and changed the lives of all who wore it.
Jade is highly revered in many cultures. Although it reads like fiction, this book follows the journey of several journalists in finding the history of this living stone, all based on true historical texts. It all starts about 1700's as an emperor's obsession and then moving to the jungles of Burma/Myanmar, leaving a deadly trail of "irrational exuberance". Easy to read, easy to be entranced and taken in. Should be enjoyable to anyone who loves precious stones, are history buffs, and all Asiaphiles.
Actually, this is a history of China/Burma in the modern era - with the focus on everyone's fascination with jade through the years 1400-the present. It is well-written, surprising and informative. For me, it started slow, but by the middle, I couldn't put it down.