A lovely endorsement of Geremie Barmé's The Forbidden City from The Economist:
Until very recently, numberless hutong ran around the Forbidden City like the ramshackle castle town huddled against the surreal, claustrophobic Gormenghast. Indeed, one of Geremie Barmé’s many services is to show how Beijing served as inspiration for Mervyn Peake, who was born in China. “The Forbidden City” is the latest in an excellent series from Harvard University Press and Profile Books. A compact volume, it is an ideal and elegant history, good for keeping in the hand while visiting the vast extraordinary complex, which has at least been preserved. Mr Barmé, a noted Australian scholar of modern China, is as good at describing the Communists’ imperially-derived impulses as he is at banishments from the medieval court.