The Way of the Panda: The Curious History of China’s Political Animal was published by Profile Books in 2010.
Giant pandas have been causing a stir ever since their formal scientific discovery just over 140 years ago. Yet in spite of humankind’s evident obsession with the giant panda, it is only in the last few decades that scientific research has begun to show us what this mysterious, frequently misunderstood creature is really like.
I use the rich and curious history of the giant panda to do several things: to ponder our changing attitudes toward the natural world; to offer a compelling history of the conservation movement; and to chart the rise of modern China on its journey to become the self-sufficient, twenty-first-century superpower it is today.
A fascinating story of an extraordinary animal.
Henry Nicholls expertly charts the panda’s decades of fame and binds together many intriguing facets of 150 years of Sino-Western interaction.
The book reads somewhat like Gone With the Wind, with the sweeping events of Chinese history in the background and pandas playing the roles of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler.
David Pilling, Financial Times
Nicholls has written an engaging popular science narrative of the panda’s discovery…cleverly interwoven with its symbolic role and significance for wildlife conservation, as well as with the politics of the period.
The panda has a fascinating history that Nicholls has superbly documented for your reading pleasure…It is, he writes, ‘a super history, just a really good yarn’. Such a claim could have backfired, raising expectations that might not have been met, but his confidence is not misplaced. The story is indeed fascinating, and Nicholls tells it with tremendous verve. More than ‘just a really good yarn’, this is narrative nonfiction at its best.
Ian Critchley, The Sunday Times
Fascinating…An interesting story, capably told.
Thoroughly readable … sheds valuable light on a mysterious and often misunderstood creature.
BBC Wildlife Magazine
I recommend you read this engaging book.
Stephanie Pain, New Scientist
An insightful and meticulously researched history of the animal universally recognised since its threatened status made it a symbol of the World Wildlife Fund’s conservation agenda.
Fintan Enright, Irish Examiner
A timely publication given China’s emerging prominence.
Kate Kellaway, The Observer
An enthralling study of one of the world’s most popular animals. A hugely enjoyable read that will surely delight any animal enthusiast, particularly fans of the panda.
Jane Dawson, Yorkshire Evening Post
A riveting story… Nicholls’s engaging narrative is filled with fascinating contradictions.
Daniel Hahn, The Guardian
In his story he takes us through the upheavals of Chinese politics in the late 19th and 20th centuries as well as the growing biological understanding of this solitary and remote animal… a fascinating story well told that reminds us of the place that animals should have in our reassessments of the past and of the new perspective that such animal histories might give us.
Erica Fudge, History Today