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Subject: Chinese History Book Recommendation? rss

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Steven Mitchell
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I've tried unsuccessfully several times to educate myself on Chinese history. In an effort to try again, I'm aiming to try to get the book on it all.

Since this is just going to be an comprehensive introduction for me, I don't particularly care about the historical statements made by the author, whether they're right or wrong, outdated or novel, &c. &c. Just something that will give me a good, fairly detailed narrative. (For those of you familiar with WWII East Front literature, think Clash of Titans-style.)

As far as eras go, well... I don't really know that much about the region's history to define my scope with much precision :-) But I'd like it to be as comprehensive as possible. It would certainly need to cover the fall of Zhou, Three Kingdoms, and the fall of the Qing dynasty. But I'm not particularly interested in Modern, post-Mao China. (My broader interest in history is periods of revolution and political crisis, so it's no surprise that those sort of points stick out to me.)

So there ya go. Whatcha got for me? And thanks ahead of time!
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Philip Thomas
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I'm currently making my way through a 6 volume history of Imperial China. Can't remember the exact name and of course you're asking for one book, but its pretty good (and each volume is quite short, so it would fit into one maybe 1200 page single book!).

Just one book for the whole thing would be quite something, but I guess there must be such things out there.
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Steven Mitchell
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Philip Thomas wrote:
I'm currently making my way through a 6 volume history of Imperial China. Can't remember the exact name and of course you're asking for one book, but its pretty good (and each volume is quite short, so it would fit into one maybe 1200 page single book!).

Just one book for the whole thing would be quite something, but I guess there must be such things out there.


Something like that would be fine, I think. It sounds like it'd be on par with, say, Europe: A History by Davies, in terms of size and scope.
 
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Raul Ocampo
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Here's a link to China's country study. It's free because you already paid for it.
http://memory.loc.gov/frd/cs/cntoc.html
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Hunga Dunga
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Haven't read it, But China: A History gets good reviews.

http://www.amazon.com/China-History-John-Keay/dp/0465015808/...
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Mike E.
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Steven, you can't go wrong with reading the various works of John K. Fairbank and Jonathan Spence.
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Phil Garland
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Philip Thomas wrote:
I'm currently making my way through a 6 volume history of Imperial China. Can't remember the exact name


That's the Belknap Harvard Press History of Imperial China series. First volume is "The Early Chinese Empires" which covers Qin and Han. I have that one, and it is well done, but it is a thematic rather than narrative history. Volume 2, "China Between Empires" will cover the Three Kingdoms period, but they have no volume on the Zhou.

Older volumes include Fairbank's "China: A New History," still in print; Loewe's "The Pride that was China," and Hucker's "China's Imperial Past." In the Chinese history classes I took during my doctoral work in history (Chinese hist was one of my minor fields), our prof, Dr. Lo, preferred Gernet's "A History of Chinese Civilization." I've read through it several times and it is the best general survey (in my opinion).

Keay I haven't read. I was disappointed by his book on India, so I'm not in a hurry to try it. One that is amazingly good, though only covering 900-1800 AD is Mote's "Imperial China," which I read over Christmas break and couldn't put down!

Out just this month, and one I'm waiting with bated breath to read, is "Ancient Chinese Warfare," by Ralph Sawyer.

Hope this helps!
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Bill the Pill
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For a basic introduction for one uninterested in post-1975 China you can't go wrong with Conrad Schirokauer's A Brief History of Chinese and Japanese Civilizations. The out-dated 2nd ed. can be had for real cheap (I think $10 or so). If you don't want to be bothered with the Japanese pages, he later separated out the China stuff, but that book is much more expensive.
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Eric Lai
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I have a rather large collection of books on the subject of Chinese history, having rediscovered my heritage over the past decade, moving from Australia back to Hong Kong... I can't recommend this book enough: The Rise of Modern China . Its a big book but easy to read. Very broad coverage, I think its starts from the Qing Dynasty, (with some summary of previous epochs) it then covers all the important events thereafter in good detail.




(oops, you're not interested in modern history of China... ignore my post then... but I will leave it up for anyone interested.)
 
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Steven Mitchell
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Thanks for the recommendations so far. A few of these were on my short list, so I'll have to check them out. Unfortunately, the Chinese history section at my local B&N (even though it's the largest one in the world) was surprisingly paltry, when I checked last night. Which is a shame, since I like to have my hands on a book when buying, if at all possible.
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Alric Zheng
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The Cambridge History of China by Cambridge University Press. I've read several volumes of Chinese-edition before. Though there're some errors, its details worth reading.
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Bill Robot
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Second on Jonathan Spence.
 
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Cosmic Charlie
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Want primary sources you can read for free online?

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/
 
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Steven Mitchell
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Blorbo wrote:
Second on Jonathan Spence.


From what I can tell, all of Spence's books are on modern China. Is there another work I'm missing?
 
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