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Best Historical Books about China


woodcutter

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I'm looking for a 1 volume Chinese history book written in English where all names, places, etc are in proper pinyin. Which of the mentioned books makes the best job using proper pinyin transliterations? I want to avoid learning those names twice.

A nice big plus would be, when names first appear there should be the corresponding Chinese characters :D

I'd read a book written in Chinese, however I'm not yet ready to do so. Just want to learn as I go.

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What period?

EDIT: I'm asking because that's quite interesting choosing a history book according to the romanisation method they use.

Jacques Gernet and his La monde chinoise, which has been translated into English and German (and a must-read for beginning Sinology students in Germany), should have pinyin in its current editions, and IIRC even an appendix with characters for proper nouns.

But there's plenty of other history books that use pinyin, it's become pretty standard now.

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I'm mostly looking for a general overview. Not too detailed, but could keep me busy for several weekends.

I'm quite aware of the fact that the pronunciation for a given character has changed over time, but I'm mostly looking for something that enables me to talk to a Chinese person about Chinese history. My guess is when Chinese people talk about their history today, they use pronunciations according that fit within the rules of modern Mandarin. Correct me if I'm wrong.

edit: it's okay if the book ends just before Mao, as I want to save the recent decades for later :)

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Hm? The romanisation methods from all history books reflect the pronunciation of Modern Mandarin, it doesn't matter if they use Wade-Giles, Pinyin or whatever other method....

So Jacques Gernet provides a good overview, you can check out the English version on Google Books, or order the German version from amazon.de

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Sorry, I had the impression that transliterations like Ghengis Khan reflect the pronounciation of the Chinese dialect this guy used for himself before Mandarin became standard. Don't know where I got this idea from.

In this case I still opt for pinyin, because I'm familiar with it.

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Ghengis Khan is Mongolian, so in Western history books all non-Han ethnicities such as Mongolians and Manchurians will usually appear in their Mongolian and Manchurian form unless they chose an explicitly Chinese name, like the Qing emperors. Also, from some non-Han ethnicities, there are only Chinese renderings of their names left, so those might appear with their Chinese names as well.

One problem you'll generally have though, is that many Chinese historical personalities are known under a variety of names, and a Western history book usually settles for one version, which might or might not be the name a person is known to the Chinese. For this, you'll have to resort to Wikipedia.

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One problem you'll generally have though, is that many Chinese historical personalities are known under a variety of names, and a Western history book usually settles for one version, which might or might not be the name a person is known to the Chinese. For this, you'll have to resort to Wikipedia.

You just made my day :wall

I'll have a look at the book you recommended.

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