THE GREAT WALL, by Luo Zewen, Dai Wenbao, Dick Wilson, Jean-Pierre Drege and Hubert Delahaye (McGraw-Hill, $24.95). The Great Wall of China, 4,000 miles long, makes Hadrian's Wall look like a picket fence. Here for the first time is a book on the single subject of the Wall, drawing on both Chinese and Western sources. Profusely illustrated and adequately mapped, the book also has a chart of the entire length of the Great Wall, pinpointing the locations of forts, palaces and archeological sites.

THE IMPERIAL MING TOMBS, by Ann Paludan (Yale, $35). In a valley just outside Peking, 13 of the 16 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A.D.) lie buried in a series of tombs rivalled only by those of the famous Valley of the Kings in Egypt. Every tourist visits the tombs, but surprisingly little has been written about them. The author, whose husband was Danish ambassador in Peking from 1972 to 1976, spent countless hours visiting the Shih-san-ling, or Thirteen Tombs, and here comprehensively describes their architecture, artifacts and what Ming funereal customs reveal about Chinese culture. Her study has a personal air that masks its scholarly excellence. The text is illustrated by dozens of color and black-and-white photographs.

OUT OF CHINA'S EARTH: Archeological Discoveries in the People's Republic of China, by Qian Hao, Chen Heyi and Ru Suichu (Abrams, $50). In March 1974, farmers sinking a well a mile east of the mausoleum of Ying Zheng (259 B.C.-210 B.C.), the first Qin (or Chin) emperor and unifier of China, dug up some lifesize terracotta figures. Archeologists rushed to the scene and discovered a collapsed underground chamber 688 feet long and 200 feet wide containing 6,000 pottery soldiers, most of which were broken but restorable. Subsequent digs nearby discovered another vault 21/2 acres in size containing 1,400 pottery figures of men and horses. This is but one, and the most famous, of recent archeological discoveries in China. Others, equally fascinating, are also magnificently illustrated and reported in this treasure of a book.

CHINA: The Land, the Cities, the People, the Culture, the Present, (Exeter, $19.95). The exotic sweep and grandeur of modern China comes forcefully alive in this large-format book of photographs, which takes the reader on a tour from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the vast jungles of China's southeast, from the tundra of northern Manchuria to the teeming streets of Peking. In separate chapters, a number of British journalists discuss Chinese politics, culture, modernization, geography, minorities, the "tourist trail" and cuisine. An excellent primer for new China hands.