Don't let the title fool you. This is not just about China, this is about the human condition. Someone with an imagination should have worked on the title and given it a bit more excitement. I almost skipped reading the book because the title seemed so dry.
I read this book twice and will probably read it, again. The author's presentation is simply masterful. Step by step, he recreates the setting and background for the book's creation and utilization. In fact, he walks the reader through about 2000 years of 'uses' that people found for the book. According to Cullen, this classic was probably a gift to a Chinese emperor and then dumped in a back room for 200 years. It was only when political circumstances changed and an 'old' book might be valuable that it was 'rediscovered' and rendered useful.
For anyone interested in the practice of ancient astronomy, Cullen goes into great detail on the tools and practice of Chinese astronomers from about 3000 BC to the arrival of Jesuits in 1600. For anyone interested in Chinese political history, Cullen explores imperial Chinese history in a way that simply makes one want to read much, much more. For anyone interested in ancient Chinese record keeping, Cullen offers practical advice on what to make of the 'documents' we moderns discover.
I hope they make this a paperback so that it can get wider circulation. What is commonly called 'the history of math' is often embarrassingly western (ethno-centric). This book offers a means of correcting that unfortunate state of affairs.