In China, the city of Hangzhou occupies its own special place in the country’s history and culture, which persists to be one of the nation’s most cherished cities and among its most popular tourist destinations. As the southern terminus of the Grand Canal, it was a capital city of imperial China for 150 years. Home to a million people at a time when London and Paris each barely reached 80,000, it was described by Marco Polo as “the greatest city which may be found in this world.” Stephen Koss, a gifted storyteller and New Yorker who fell in love with Chinese culture and “disappears” to China regularly, is bringing to us his new book By the Hills Embraced: A Social and Cultural History of Hangzhou, China

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