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China: A New History

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John King Fairbank was the West's doyen on China, and this book is the full and final expression of his lifelong engagement with this vast ancient civilization. It remains a masterwork without parallel. The distinguished historian Merle Goldman brings the book up to date, covering reforms in the post-Mao period through the early years of the twenty-first century, including John King Fairbank was the West's doyen on China, and this book is the full and final expression of his lifelong engagement with this vast ancient civilization. It remains a masterwork without parallel. The distinguished historian Merle Goldman brings the book up to date, covering reforms in the post-Mao period through the early years of the twenty-first century, including the leadership of Hu Jintao. She also provides an epilogue discussing the changes in contemporary China that will shape the nation in the years to come.


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John King Fairbank was the West's doyen on China, and this book is the full and final expression of his lifelong engagement with this vast ancient civilization. It remains a masterwork without parallel. The distinguished historian Merle Goldman brings the book up to date, covering reforms in the post-Mao period through the early years of the twenty-first century, including John King Fairbank was the West's doyen on China, and this book is the full and final expression of his lifelong engagement with this vast ancient civilization. It remains a masterwork without parallel. The distinguished historian Merle Goldman brings the book up to date, covering reforms in the post-Mao period through the early years of the twenty-first century, including the leadership of Hu Jintao. She also provides an epilogue discussing the changes in contemporary China that will shape the nation in the years to come.

30 review for China: A New History

  1. 4 out of 5

    bravebird

    The book mainly consists of post-Qing Chinese modern and contemporary history. The question the author is trying to answer is why China ended up lagging behind the West. The conclusion is mainly a criticism against Neoconfucian tradition as being the root of despotism historically pervasive in the governance of China. As a Korean reader, who still breathes in Neoconfucian heritage on a real time basis like it or not, I find it hard to just nod and readily agree to the prescription. Some parts of The book mainly consists of post-Qing Chinese modern and contemporary history. The question the author is trying to answer is why China ended up lagging behind the West. The conclusion is mainly a criticism against Neoconfucian tradition as being the root of despotism historically pervasive in the governance of China. As a Korean reader, who still breathes in Neoconfucian heritage on a real time basis like it or not, I find it hard to just nod and readily agree to the prescription. Some parts of me want to refute the conclusion since it feels like being told "you are intrinsically inferior by having been born into that heritage." I am never a lover of Neoconfucianism myself, but I'd rather approach a civilization as itself with some reasonable and complete inner system in it. As far as I know, John King Fairbank was originally quite sympathetic towards the CCP government and had a huge backlash afterwards. This book was his last work finished right before his death. In this book, he dramatically changed his opinion for redemption by criticizing the tyranny of CCP. It is understandable, but as a reader from a cultural sphere pretty close from China, the main question and the author's simple answer is rather hard to swallow. I fully support democratic ideal for sure, but the naïve belief in Western superiority at the expense of belittling other civilization is also something to be afraid of. Just as much as Neoconfucianism has shackled us.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    Enjoyed this a lot. History with the scaffolding showing.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mkp

    There is more of a focus on the Qing dynasty and after. In general, when compared to Hucker and Gernet, Fairbank & Goldman (I abbreviate 'Fairbank' from here on) are more closely interested in mechanisms, both governmental and economic, that predominated during historical times. He gives references to the range of academic studies concerning particular issues without getting bogged down in academic disputes. However none of the books give a convincing explanation of the decline in wealth that too There is more of a focus on the Qing dynasty and after. In general, when compared to Hucker and Gernet, Fairbank & Goldman (I abbreviate 'Fairbank' from here on) are more closely interested in mechanisms, both governmental and economic, that predominated during historical times. He gives references to the range of academic studies concerning particular issues without getting bogged down in academic disputes. However none of the books give a convincing explanation of the decline in wealth that took place in the 18th and 19th century. Fairbank emphasizes the law of diminishing returns, which existed in Europe, as well, so why should it be the primary explanation in this case? More reasonable is his comment that "merchants never broke free of official supervision, if not domination" (p. 179). Note that the coverage of foot-binding here is far superior to that of Gernet and Hucker, who both largely ignore this practice. Merle Goldsmith's 40-page coverage of the period following the Cultural Revolution is quite useful, although it covers only to 1998.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Paige McLoughlin

    The history of China is very heavy on the modern period. I mean it is a work written by a westerner a fairly standard history of China. Not a big fan of Mao or the CCP but I would rather hear a left-wing treatment of history I mean a standard centrist history is ok but honestly, I don't think our mainstream has the best POV. Not bad though. The history of China is very heavy on the modern period. I mean it is a work written by a westerner a fairly standard history of China. Not a big fan of Mao or the CCP but I would rather hear a left-wing treatment of history I mean a standard centrist history is ok but honestly, I don't think our mainstream has the best POV. Not bad though.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Chapman

    This book summarizes Chinese History from ancient times to the late 1980s. I got this book primarily due to curiosity about early Chinese History and it whetted that curiosity. The last half of the book wasn’t quite as interesting to me.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ethan Cramer-Flood

    Reading this book cover to cover may be one of the nerdiest things I've ever done, and that's saying something. China: A New History is literally a text book. It's what college students are often assigned as their base resource for a class likely to be called "China Studies 101" or "Chinese History 101". It's the kind of thing that professors assign, but students rarely read all the way through. Maybe you catch a chapter here and there, but there's no way you have the patience to read the whole Reading this book cover to cover may be one of the nerdiest things I've ever done, and that's saying something. China: A New History is literally a text book. It's what college students are often assigned as their base resource for a class likely to be called "China Studies 101" or "Chinese History 101". It's the kind of thing that professors assign, but students rarely read all the way through. Maybe you catch a chapter here and there, but there's no way you have the patience to read the whole thing. I read the whole thing. It served its purpose, I guess, though it's far from the most interesting or well-written academic work I've ever read. I was told that Fairbank was the doyen of Chinese history in the West before his death in the 1990s. This is an updated version of his classic intro text book. Fine. All well and good. I learned a lot. But there's no need for anyone to ever read this book unless you're in a class or in a similar situation as me.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Luke Williams

    Dry and academic but brilliantly comprehensive, Fairbank explores China's extensive history from political, economic, cultural, social and philosophical perspectives. Before reading this book, most of what I knew about China had either trickled down from the media or from even less reliable sources. Now the progression of this vast region of the world has been integrated into my broader understanding of human history, and I am richer for the experience. Dry and academic but brilliantly comprehensive, Fairbank explores China's extensive history from political, economic, cultural, social and philosophical perspectives. Before reading this book, most of what I knew about China had either trickled down from the media or from even less reliable sources. Now the progression of this vast region of the world has been integrated into my broader understanding of human history, and I am richer for the experience.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Greg Strandberg

    I read about 80 pages of this, about up to 400 AD. I was primarily interested in the earlier Warring States period of around 400-200 BC, but like most Chinese history books, it's quite lacking in this area. It does have a lot from the Ming Dynasty onward, again, like most Chinese history books. I read about 80 pages of this, about up to 400 AD. I was primarily interested in the earlier Warring States period of around 400-200 BC, but like most Chinese history books, it's quite lacking in this area. It does have a lot from the Ming Dynasty onward, again, like most Chinese history books.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    So far I hate this book. The authors have managed to make what should be a fascinating history utterly boring and tedious. I doubt I'll finish it. So far I hate this book. The authors have managed to make what should be a fascinating history utterly boring and tedious. I doubt I'll finish it.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Is it even possible to fit the whole of China's history into one volume? The Herculean task may never be achieved, but Prof. Fairbank has given it a masterful attempt. Indeed we are quite lucky to have this volume (Prof. Fairbank suffered a heart attack after delivering the final manuscript and passed away 2 days later), because nearly 30 years later it is still an invaluable read. One cannot hope to understand fully a country, its actions and desires, without understanding its historical contex Is it even possible to fit the whole of China's history into one volume? The Herculean task may never be achieved, but Prof. Fairbank has given it a masterful attempt. Indeed we are quite lucky to have this volume (Prof. Fairbank suffered a heart attack after delivering the final manuscript and passed away 2 days later), because nearly 30 years later it is still an invaluable read. One cannot hope to understand fully a country, its actions and desires, without understanding its historical context (take for example race relations in America's South). Prof. Fairbank does a good job of highlighting the key facts and events in China's history, from Paleolithic times, through its imperial dynasties and through to the reforms of the 90s. Along the way he provides thoughtful analysis on how the cultural norms and philosophy of the day shaped responses to these events and their lingering influence on modern times. The epilogue caps off the book with some deeply-thoughtful analysis, that defies the simple Manichaean logic that so often pervades the debate on how China should develop: "We may justifiably see the Chinese movement toward civil society as a historic trend without jumping to the conclusion that it must lead in China to the Western type of democracy... And until Western democratic regimes have a more effective way of curbing corruption and maintaining public morale, these examples of democratic government may fail to win public approval in China. We outsiders can offer China advice about the overriding need for human rights, but until we can set an example by properly curbing our own media violence and the drug and gun industries, we can hardly urge China to be more like us. Instead, we must must scrutinize the adequacy of our basic assumptions about the Chinese scene." (p432). One is reminded Fukuyama's argument on how America's experiences to transplant Western style democracy to countries lacking historical and cultural structures have failed miserably. In other ways, we can see how history indeed rhymes. Against the backdrop of the protests in HK, we can see other historical similarities. And when we step back, we can see how the study of history can help use understand our own times. Another astute observation by Prof. Fairbank: "[The students] needed better food and clothing, more space to live in, more books available to read, and more chance to express themselves in speech and writing. But these were selfish needs, ignoble and unseemly to demand in public. Their pronouncements therefore dealt with abstractions - democracy, freedom, liberty, morality (against corruption), justice (against favoritism), and national honor (against foreign insults). The students had no intellectual sanction to lat the facts on the line. Even for practical negotiations, they had no concrete demands." (p425) In conclusion, we should be grateful that Prof. Fairbank was able to finish this volume. Of course it skips over detail in parts, but that is to be expected - tradeoffs need otherwise the end product will be unmanageable. The language has some unnecessary flourishes in parts, and with all books on China I think it is necessary to just to have the pin-yin but also characters. But these are small blemishes on an otherwise great book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    John Ferngrove

    I have read several, verging on numerous, one volume histories of China now. This one gets four stars because like too many, the depth of coverage decreases the further back in time one goes. We've reached the 20th Century by page 200 with 300 pages still to go. In this respect John Keay's China: a History, remains the single best one volume history from prehistoric times to 'the present', which in this book's case means 2006. There is, of course, the problem facing any such history that China h I have read several, verging on numerous, one volume histories of China now. This one gets four stars because like too many, the depth of coverage decreases the further back in time one goes. We've reached the 20th Century by page 200 with 300 pages still to go. In this respect John Keay's China: a History, remains the single best one volume history from prehistoric times to 'the present', which in this book's case means 2006. There is, of course, the problem facing any such history that China has been evolving so rapidly since the revolution(s), that anything more than 5 years old, it feels like a significant gap has been left. This book is actually a second edition from the initial publication of 1996, extended into the Jiang Zemin - Hu Jintao years by a second author. This means that the book's extensive bibliography, compiled by Fairbanks, is now very dated with few titles that would be easily available today. For whatever reason, with most histories I have read my eyes have tended to glaze over once we reach the turmoil of the post-Mao years. Merle Goldman's extension for this edition is arguably the best feature of this book as between his contribution and Fairbanks' own coverage of the Deng Xiaoping era a very precise and clear picture is presented of the various currents in Chinese society; rural and industrial economic, popular and intellectual cultural, military within and outside government. This has greatly clarified my understanding of some of the threads that crop up repeatedly among China commentators of today. For instance, with Chinese government and politics being so opaque to the outside world, or even within China itself, it is tempting for commentators to try and guess what might be going on based on previous history. In particular, the Confucian tradition is regularly cited as a way of making sense of current Chinese society and politics. However, it is apparent that while Confucian tradition is alive and somewhat well in Chinese academia, academia is still under the thumb of the Party and the Party remains too pragmatically involved with its own objectives for Confucianism to really be an explanatory factor. There are actually few to no cases where a country's present history can be reliably inferred from that of its deep past and, if we had more access to the inner workings of Chinese government, China's deep past would not be such a heavily mined source of pseudo-explanation. While reading this I also came to a deeper view of Mao's own journey, from presumably genuine seeker of social justice to arguably the ultimate despotic monster of all history. I find myself considering at a new level the path of decision making Mao was confronted with and trying to understand those decisions that were reasonable in the circumstances, those that were lamentable but pragmatically necessary and those which were a roll of the dice by a ruthless tyrant infatuated with his own absolute power. With the only biography of Mao I have read being that of Jung/Halliday, it is too easy to presume that the dominant factor in all Mao's decision making was invariably consideration of his own power. I now feel I need to examine the events more closely and at least begin looking for the man behind the monster So, not the best but a very worthwhile book, particularly if your interest is in modern China.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Camille Joyce L

    1. This book assumes you already have a knowledge about Chinese history, therefore offering a 'new' perspective using an archaeological lens. For a dummy like me, I didn't appreciate neo-historicism because I was looking for an idiot book and I picked the wrong book. I picked this among the others because it had the least number of pages (581) but I had to toil finishing the book. This isn't to say it wasn't in the least bit helpful. It is: it just assumes you know what you're reading hence, off 1. This book assumes you already have a knowledge about Chinese history, therefore offering a 'new' perspective using an archaeological lens. For a dummy like me, I didn't appreciate neo-historicism because I was looking for an idiot book and I picked the wrong book. I picked this among the others because it had the least number of pages (581) but I had to toil finishing the book. This isn't to say it wasn't in the least bit helpful. It is: it just assumes you know what you're reading hence, offering counter-perspectives. 2. This book's faithful to the chronological development of Chinese thought and history starting from pre-historical times, another reason why I picked the book. Again, however, it centers on archaeological evidence of bones extracted from caves (Peking Man), scrolls during Han, Zhou dynasties among others, as well as the significance of Confucianism and Taoism in early Chinese History (and thus, the divide). 3. It was written by a Harvard scholar, and the book was obviously written for Harvard students. The book is Western-centric, so it frequently compares Western civ. vis-a-vis Chinese history. This is fine by me, since world history as taught in the school focuses on Western civ. But, again, I didn't appreciate the book because it was not meant for me. 4. I picked the book prior to reading Kissinger's On China and Deng Xiaoping by Vogel because the only stock knowledge I have of Chinese history came from Fukuyama's Political Order series and it tackles Chinese civilisation on the fly. I needed to pare things down and slowly appreciate this sleeping giant, obviously now awake.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ruby

    LOL Finally, the last textbook of college. A few interesting notes: - the Song dynasty paradox: it was the most prosperous and commercialized dynasty, but it was the weakest militarily. - I don't know if I have always had strong emotional reactions towards the history of late Qing dynasty, but this time when I studied Chinese history, I was particularly interested in late Qing history. What caused the fall of the empire? I could understand more of why scholars back then seemed so "anxious," eager LOL Finally, the last textbook of college. A few interesting notes: - the Song dynasty paradox: it was the most prosperous and commercialized dynasty, but it was the weakest militarily. - I don't know if I have always had strong emotional reactions towards the history of late Qing dynasty, but this time when I studied Chinese history, I was particularly interested in late Qing history. What caused the fall of the empire? I could understand more of why scholars back then seemed so "anxious," eager, and "patriotic." Self-strengthening movement; preservation of ideology or preservation of the country/race. This sort of "patriotism," i.e. to save China from being "bullied" by the West in economic and military development, is still present. Quote from Professor, "When Chinese culture is considered as Chinese culture, it is no longer Chinese culture." - Is it possible to be a Chinese on the inside and use "Western" skills on the outside in modern days? Honestly, who can actually be completely "Chinese" on the inside now...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    I was interested in the subject and the book is very comprehensive but it just reads like a boring college lecture. I kept drifting and having to go back and re read. I think this was a deeper dive than I was looking for.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    A bit too focused on the 20th century for my tastes, but a good overview of China more or less since the Qin.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Darren Jensen

    Pretty interesting book. Over 1/4 of it is about the last 120 years which I liked. Definitely not information overkill like many history books.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Scott Cooper

    Exhaustively researched, and well detailed, it covers an incredibly long time range. I would recommend that you have a fundamental understanding of Chinese history, before plunging into this tome.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tomas Andrade

    Great overview. Because of China's history extension, the book can't cover much detail Great overview. Because of China's history extension, the book can't cover much detail

  19. 5 out of 5

    Noah Schiro

    Good to know stufd but the writing style didnt suit me very well so it was hard to chew through the book

  20. 4 out of 5

    Yapaag

    I like it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sejong

    This was a re-read as this book served as the backbone to my Chinese history courses back on university. A collection of chronological essays compiled by some of the fields leading Western historians, the book can easily function as a readers first introduction to the sweeping story of Chinese history from it's genesis to the immediate pre-Jinping era of the modern world. A criticism I can make of the book right away is it's general imbalance; roughly half of the book is dedicated to the 20th cen This was a re-read as this book served as the backbone to my Chinese history courses back on university. A collection of chronological essays compiled by some of the fields leading Western historians, the book can easily function as a readers first introduction to the sweeping story of Chinese history from it's genesis to the immediate pre-Jinping era of the modern world. A criticism I can make of the book right away is it's general imbalance; roughly half of the book is dedicated to the 20th century and includes some incredibly deep analysis of the the post-WW2 Communist period. While fascinating, I was left feeling a little bit disappointed at how some earlier eras of Chinese history were rushed through. The Yuan Dynasty, for example, is given virtually no real analysis whatsoever. I think the evident imbalance is due to a common thread that runs through the book; the quest to seek an explanation for how and why China failed to modernise in the 19th and 20th centuries as it kowtowed to the Western powers during it's 'century of humiliation' and flailed with violent Maoism after the Second World World while the likes of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore prospered. When searching for an answer to explain China's slow ascent to a global superpower it makes sense to focus more on relatively modern periods of history but that relegates this book to one of only cursory interest to those seeking a sweeping and balanced history of China. Despite the apparent understanding of the writers of China's intricate culture, it's relation with religion and it's economic policies past-and-present there is still something Euro-centric about their quest to identify China's 'falling off point' in the race to modernity. The idea of continuity is one that is being stressed by the modern regime in China and ancient cultural ideas are beginning to dig their claws into the psyche of the nation of China at the same time that China's city are becoming a bastion of modernity. How this will unfold in the future will be an interesting prospect for sure and, although this book serves as a great introduction to the topic, it's one that left me wanting a lot more.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Douglas Hayes

    Of all of the books I have read so far on China this has been the most helpful to date. Fairbank presents his material in such a way that the reader has a sense that he is getting both an accurate presentation of the facts of history, and a reasoned explanation for them. He has the ability to reach down below the surface and draw up to the mind the reasons why things happened as they did, and why China is the way it is. This is especially helpful when trying to understand China from the perspect Of all of the books I have read so far on China this has been the most helpful to date. Fairbank presents his material in such a way that the reader has a sense that he is getting both an accurate presentation of the facts of history, and a reasoned explanation for them. He has the ability to reach down below the surface and draw up to the mind the reasons why things happened as they did, and why China is the way it is. This is especially helpful when trying to understand China from the perspective of Western presuppositions. He often compares the backgrounds and contemporary cultures us both China and the West in a way that helps to clarify both the similarities and differences. Another valuable element of the book are the Maps and Tables. His versions of these are easily understood and add to the points that he is making. This in contrast to so many histories that provide such detailed or esoteric material that they are more frustrating than illuminating. Fairbank has provided us with more than a mere history - it more approaches a historiography in the way that it critically presents the story of China (although there does seem to be little quotation primary source materials).

  23. 5 out of 5

    MJ

    About as good of an overview of China's "5000 year history" as you're going to get in 500 pages. Just be aware that it reads like a textbook with an overwhelming barrage of names and dates, although that shouldn't come as any surprise to Chinese history enthusiasts. In fact, I read this book under the recommendation of a friend of mine from Harvard who DID use it as a required text for an introductory class (John King Fairbank taught at the department of Chinese studies there, which now shares h About as good of an overview of China's "5000 year history" as you're going to get in 500 pages. Just be aware that it reads like a textbook with an overwhelming barrage of names and dates, although that shouldn't come as any surprise to Chinese history enthusiasts. In fact, I read this book under the recommendation of a friend of mine from Harvard who DID use it as a required text for an introductory class (John King Fairbank taught at the department of Chinese studies there, which now shares his name). Regrettably, little time is spent on the dynasties of Bronze age, pre-historic China. The book proper begins with the late Zhou and the last third is spent on the 20th century alone. Don't get me wrong, I can't get enough of the dramas, struggles, and monumental personas of the ROC/PRC era -- you just shouldn't expect an evenly-distributed telling of Imperial-to-modern China here. Luckily, the end material is packed with useful, recommended further readings divided categorically and accompanied by Fairbank's notes. For a more readable alternative, I've received recommendations for Keay's "China, A History" which I plan to read and review soon.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Wrting a concise one-volume history of China must be akin to the old open-ended essay topic: "define the universe, and give three examples". Fairbank does about as well as one could, using China's past of confucianism to explain the philosophy of say, the Tiananmen Square massacre or the Cultural Revolution of the late 60's. In this he does a very able job, and to this untrained historian at least, the events that transpire become almost predictable. On the negative side, history in the sense of Wrting a concise one-volume history of China must be akin to the old open-ended essay topic: "define the universe, and give three examples". Fairbank does about as well as one could, using China's past of confucianism to explain the philosophy of say, the Tiananmen Square massacre or the Cultural Revolution of the late 60's. In this he does a very able job, and to this untrained historian at least, the events that transpire become almost predictable. On the negative side, history in the sense of who-did-what-to-whom is often glossed over in the interest of philosophical motivation. Thus the First Opium War which gives Britain control of Hong Kong for 150 years gets about a one page mention, the entire Ming dynasty gets about 20. The analysis of the political implications and motivations for China's closed door trading policy during the Qing dynasty of the 19th century gets several pages. This book filled in some holes in my knowledge of history which were rather gaping. For that at least, and for those that might be like me, I thought the book was very useful.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Clay Kallam

    The only reason this isn't five stars is that I would have liked more detail about the earlier Chinese dynasties, but all in all, this gave me just what I wanted: An overall background in Chinese history. John King Fairbank, who wrote all but the last two chapters, is more than a competent writer, and the chapters are broken up into short, easily digestible sections that allow readers many options for stopping points. Fairbanks' command of the material is obvious, and though this is clearly a wor The only reason this isn't five stars is that I would have liked more detail about the earlier Chinese dynasties, but all in all, this gave me just what I wanted: An overall background in Chinese history. John King Fairbank, who wrote all but the last two chapters, is more than a competent writer, and the chapters are broken up into short, easily digestible sections that allow readers many options for stopping points. Fairbanks' command of the material is obvious, and though this is clearly a work that could be used as a college textbook, it was more than fine for outside of class. The last two chapters, by Merle Goodman, though written several years ago, still illuminate aspects of modern China that are generally unmentioned in journalistic coverage of the country, and like the book as a whole, enlighten the reader about the realities of one of the most powerful nations on the planet.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This is not a review but a technical comment. The publisher makes a decision to use Romanized Chinese for names instead of Hanyu Pinyin and/or parenthetical Chinese characters. Although partially noted, the romanization is missing tone marks, which greatly limits one's ability to cross reference or pronounce accurately. An amatuer reader is impeded in discussion of the text with Chinese speakers because of missing tone marks and the deficiency of the English presentation. 孔夫子; pinyin: Kǒng Fūzǐ i This is not a review but a technical comment. The publisher makes a decision to use Romanized Chinese for names instead of Hanyu Pinyin and/or parenthetical Chinese characters. Although partially noted, the romanization is missing tone marks, which greatly limits one's ability to cross reference or pronounce accurately. An amatuer reader is impeded in discussion of the text with Chinese speakers because of missing tone marks and the deficiency of the English presentation. 孔夫子; pinyin: Kǒng Fūzǐ is commonly known as Confucius in the American audience, but many other terms are not known in their Chinese equivalents. For example, I was confused when reading the name Mencius. As a non-scholar, I had to look it up to find it is 孟軻 meng3 ke1. I'm finding it necessary to keep a parallel notebook in order to discuss the content with Chinese speakers.

  27. 5 out of 5

    P-A M

    This book gives a nice overview of some parts of Chinese history, but on the whole it's really unbalanced. The chapters on the Qing dynasty and after are nice, as are the chapters about prehistory and the first dynasties. But everything in between is completely rushed. The Ming chapter is especially ridiculous, as all it does is harshly criticizing the government of that dynasty without explaining anything else pertaining to that period. The book also reflects a conception of China as having an " This book gives a nice overview of some parts of Chinese history, but on the whole it's really unbalanced. The chapters on the Qing dynasty and after are nice, as are the chapters about prehistory and the first dynasties. But everything in between is completely rushed. The Ming chapter is especially ridiculous, as all it does is harshly criticizing the government of that dynasty without explaining anything else pertaining to that period. The book also reflects a conception of China as having an "eternal" identity, a point of view with which more and more historians disagree today, stressing instead the changes over time and the foreign influences. I am not saying Fairbank is necessarily wrong, but one should be warned about that before taking everything he says for granted.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anh Le

    This book is excellent for those who have somewhat learned about Chinese history from other general introductory titles and sought to consolidate their understandings of these historical events. This feature made it superior to any (supposedly) titles for beginners out there with very thought-provoking and in-depth analyses that even addressed and challenged any historiographical frameworks of studying Chinese prehistory and the modern periods. I highly recommend this book to advanced students w This book is excellent for those who have somewhat learned about Chinese history from other general introductory titles and sought to consolidate their understandings of these historical events. This feature made it superior to any (supposedly) titles for beginners out there with very thought-provoking and in-depth analyses that even addressed and challenged any historiographical frameworks of studying Chinese prehistory and the modern periods. I highly recommend this book to advanced students who want to gain a fresh review of Chinese history again through Fairbank's insights and critical inputs.

  29. 4 out of 5

    AJ

    I read along with the coursework for HIST103, Introduction to the History of China, at UW-Madison. China has about 4000+ years of history and it's hard to cover all of that in one book. It was not that easy of a read though because it really is only thumbnail snapshots of history through the whole book. A lot of time I was wanting better explanations or more details. And there were a lot of assumptions the author made to what the reader already knew. However, there is an extensive bibliography t I read along with the coursework for HIST103, Introduction to the History of China, at UW-Madison. China has about 4000+ years of history and it's hard to cover all of that in one book. It was not that easy of a read though because it really is only thumbnail snapshots of history through the whole book. A lot of time I was wanting better explanations or more details. And there were a lot of assumptions the author made to what the reader already knew. However, there is an extensive bibliography that I hope to use to get the details I was missing.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Apo Baltayan

    A complete history book about China, from prehistory to the present days. A very detailed research about the most important events, a great description of governing system during successive dynasties, the life of the ordinary Chinese during the centuries, battles for the power etc... the authors mention, also, quotes from many contemporary prolific academicians like Marie-Claire Bergère

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