Reviews of Yijing books

This is the contents page for all the book reviews contained on this site, the newer ones at the bottom. Shorter reviews of Yijing websites are in the links section.

A critical survey of I Ching books

This 1995 article by Joel Biroco concisely covers 81 books, attempting to provide a critical overview of the field of Yijing books in English up until the time it was written. Many of these books are now out-of-print but still available secondhand. This article highlights the more worthwhile books to search out. The survey was slightly revised for the web in 2004.

Two contrasting translations

Reviews of both the original Ritsema/Karcher I Ching and Richard Lynn's Wang Bi Yijing.

Stephen Karcher and Alfred Huang

Karcher's elementary title 'The Way of I Ching' plus a few notes penned in response to an enquiry about Alfred Huang's translation and his Yijing numerology book.

Aleister Crowley’s Beastly Yi King

The occultist and magus Aleister Crowley was one of the first westerners to use the Yijing, but for a long time all that was available was a scrappily produced small book with his version of the Yi written as a doggerel-like poem. His magical journals, however, show a man deeply immersed in the Book of Changes and using it practically to influence many of his decisions. The Thelemic journal 'Red Flame' gathered together Crowley's scattered writings on the Yi, which is reviewed here by William Fancourt.

Stick Dice

Steve Moore discusses the various fallacies generally held about Yijing probabilities in the coin rite and the yarrow rite in the course of a review of a set of tetrahedral dice intended to reproduce the probability of yarrow with the convenience of coin tossing. [There is a further page on probability in the introductory section.]

Liu Dajun et al

Richard Rutt's review of the first English translation of the Yijing to come from China in over half a century. This is the book where 'a melon wrapped with willow' is interpreted as a UFO sighting. I remember myself and Steve Moore had a good laugh about that in the Museum Tavern when he gave me a copy of the book when it first arrived in London's Chinatown.

I Ching: An Annotated Bibliography

Who would have thought quite so much material has been published in English on the Yijing? Also a review here of Tan Xiaochun's comic-book version from Singapore.

The Great Treatise

After Richard Wilhelm's translation of the Great Treatise, which has something of a classic status, probably the translation by Richard Rutt in his Zhouyi is the best, but Stephen Karcher's on review here certainly looks good on the coffee table. Surprising it was in remainder bookshops so soon.

Making the I Ching easy

William Fancourt discusses the pitfalls awaiting those who attempt to produce a 'beginner's I Ching' in the process of reviewing two reasonable attempts at it.

The Photographic I Ching

One of the most scathing reviews ever published by 'The Oracle'. Steve Moore must have got out of the wrong side of the bed when he wrote this one.

Richard Rutt’s Zhouyi

Rutt's translation of the Zhouyi served to summarise the Modernist approach to the oracle and its major findings from the past half century in a radically new translation, together with copious notes and a 200 page introduction to the field of Yijing studies. Essential reading and now available in paperback.

Opening a new field for dragons

I am very pleased to be able to present Richard Rutt's in-depth review article on Edward Shaughnessy's translation of the Mawangdui manuscript, since I regard Richard's extended essay as one of the finest yet written on the 'silk Yijing'. Myself and Richard discussed this article at the time he was writing it and I'm glad to say I was able to persuade him to include much more detail on the actual imagery and variant characters of the Mawangdui MS. There were errors in two of the diagrams when this work was originally published in 'The Oracle', which I noticed while preparing it for the web. I have now corrected them.

Before Confucius

Ken Goodall focuses on the Yijing-related material in Edward Shaughnessy's work on early Chinese literature, and in particular on the scholarly tunnel vision concerning the famous 1929 'guess' of modernist Gu Jiegang about who Da Yi gave his sister or younger daughter to in hexagrams 11/5 and 54/5.

Les signes et les mutations

There are a number of Yijing books that are much ignored because they are written in European languages other than English. Ken Goodall reviews Wang Dongliang's French translation of the Yi and his commentary on 'the signs and the changes', the signs being the six-line hexagram figures.

Ling Ch’i Ching

Ken Goodall reviews the translation of this Daoist oracle produced by Ralph D Sawyer and Mei-chün Lee Sawyer. The Lingqijing, or 'Magical Chess Classic', contains 125 oracular trigraphs the text of which draws on some of the imagery of the Yijing.

Wen Wang Blah Blah

An in-depth review article by Harmen Mesker on three najia fortune-telling books. This purely predictive method, which doesn't use the actual text of the Book of Changes at all, is popular in China but tends to be frowned upon by those who use the Yijing for 'self-development' and 'wisdom'. Two of the books reviewed also deal with the meihua method, or 'plum blossom' divination.

The Laws of Change

Steve Marshall reviews Jack M Balkin's commentary on the Book of Changes, which is of the Wilhelm school of thought.


Review by Steve Marshall of the new and official Eranos Yijing. No longer Ritsema/Karcher – Stephen Karcher is dropped, as was Rudolf Ritsema from Karcher's sole authorship 'revised edition' in 2002. Confused? You need the back story for this one as well as a review.

The Essentials of the Yi Jing

Harmen Mesker reviews an annotated translation of the Yijing by Chung Wu PhD, whose academic qualification is in biochemistry but who was 'privately tutored in the classics of Chinese literature'.

Lillian Too’s secrets of the plum blossom

Lillian Too sets her hallway three-legged toad to face in the direction of the Yijing. Harmen Mesker reviews this new work on Meihua Yishu, 'plum blossom numerology'.

The I Ching Key: The Secret Computer of the Ancient Gods

Steve Marshall reviews the self-contained first volume of John C Compton's trilogy 'The I Ching Project'. Compton has found some extraordinary things in the Yijing.

John Cage – Visual Art: To Sober and Quiet the Mind

In this review article Steve Marshall looks at John Cage's I Ching chance operations and in particular reviews Kathan Brown's book on his visual art.

Master Wu’s eight days to shamanic Yijing mastery

Steve Marshall reviews Master Wu Zhongxian's 'Seeking the Spirit of the Book of Change', while also reflecting on the nature of mastery.

Liu Ming – CHANGING: Zhouyi :: The Heart of the Yijing

One of the most overlooked Yijing books in the past few years is Liu Ming's 2005 privately printed translation and commentary. Steve Marshall's review appears to be the first that this work has received.

Fathoming the Cosmos and Ordering the World

Steve Marshall reviews Richard J Smith's pioneer work charting the history of Yijing studies from the Shang dynasty to the present day.

The I Ching Deciphered

Steve Moore gets out his iron head scratcher with this privately published book by Jeffrey Llechid Williams.

Lost (and Found) in Translation: The Shenshu [PDF]

In this review article Steve Moore looks at the currently available books in western languages on the Shenshu, a divinatory text attributed to Zhuge Liang that is vaguely related to the Yijing, and compares them with the Chinese.

The Classic of Changes in Cultural Context

Steve Moore reviews Scott Davis's work of 'textual archaeology', which takes a structural/anthropological approach to the Yijing.

Wisdom of Changes [DVD]

Steve Marshall reviews Bettina Wilhelm's film portrait of her grandfather Richard Wilhelm.

John Minford’s I Ching translation

A review by Steve Marshall of Professor John Minford's double translation of the oracle as a 'book of wisdom' and also as a 'bronze age divination manual'.

Another day, another Yijing book

A round-up review of seven very different Yijing books, by S J Marshall.

The solution of the King Wen sequence?

József Drasny reviews Richard S Cook's 'Classical Chinese Combinatorics'. Cook claimed in 2006 to have solved the mathematical reasoning behind the King Wen sequence of hexagrams, but his work has gone unexamined since then. Until now.

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