UNDERSTAND the cultural phenomena & conflicts that surround us;
GAIN INSIGHT into the present & future through interpretations of the past.
The main focus of this website is on Italy and China, seen through the eyes & works of
someone who has spent over 30 years on the cultural scene of these two countries.
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My latest book, Sardinia: Island of Myths, Giants and Magic, was published in London in June 2019 by Tauris Parke, an imprint of Bloomsbury. Rights have now been sold to Eesti Raamat for an edition in Estonian.
The book is not intended to be a guidebook, but both a suggested cultural itinerary and an introduction to some fascinating aspects of the island. It does not mention every place of interest, which may be found in guidebooks and online, or where to sleep and eat - for which booking sites offer everything that is necessary and are regularly updated. The aim is to go a little deeper into lesser known aspects of the island and places and people that are almost never mentioned - especially some of the interesting characters in its history. Above all, it is an attempt to explore and investigate the mythical and magical aspects of Sardinia.
My book on the Terracotta Army of the First Emperor of China, Terracotta Warriors: History, Mystery and the Latest Discoveries, was published in London in February 2018 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson. The paperback followed on 7 February 2019.
A USA edition, with a new title and cover, was published by Pegasus Books in August 2018; a Chinese version by Beijing White Horse Time (白马时光) will come out in September 2019. I’ll be speaking at the official launch inside the Terracotta Army Museum in Xi’an.
The most recently completed documentary film is The City Wall of Xi'an. This wall in its extant form is a late fourteenth century structure built by the Ming dynasty and faced with brick two hundred years later. The film tells the story from four different perspectives: first, it looks at the importance of walls generally in ancient Chinese civilisation; secondly, it traces the physical construction and materials used to build it; thirdly, it considers the wall as a significant aesthetic monument to the Chinese architectural and cultural heritage; and, lastly, as a cultural and political artefact which symbolises this proud and ancient city and its people. The film is 30 minutes in length.
It includes historical footage of the 1926 siege of Xi’an, several clips of the destruction and rebuilding in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as some hitherto unseen features. There are four expert interviews, one by a renowned culture expert, one by an archaeologist who has worked on earlier walls in the city, one by the architect responsible for the new layout of the South Gate, and one by an architect who has drawn on the wall as inspiration for contemporary buildings. In addition, there are four short interviews with enthusiastic visiting tourists who had no previous knowledge of the wall.
The musical soundtrack to the film is entirely played by well-known musicians from Xi’an, and some of the pieces were composed in the city. The film was sponsored by the Shaanxi Xi’an City Wall Protection Foundation, of which I am a Trustee.