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Don_Horhe

Ttc From Yao To Mao: 5000 Years Of Chinese History

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Don_Horhe

From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History by Kenneth J. Hammond

Has anyone purchased this course? What do you think of it? Since I don't really have time at the moment to read up on my history, I'm looking for an easy way out, and this seems to be the best option available. The reviews on the TTC website are generally positive, but I'm curious to know what the opinions of people with deeper knowledge and understanding of Chinese history are.

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Daan

I don't know this particular course, and Ken Hammond seems to be a reputable academic with a Ph.D. from Harvard, but anything that claims Chinese history spans 5,000 years should be taken with a pinch of salt. I had a look at their website and it does feature some claims I don't think would pass muster with modern historians who are experts in the field. Here are some examples:

For most of its 5,000-year existence, China has been the largest, most populous, wealthiest, and mightiest nation on Earth.

Most scholars would argue, I think, that China became a nation only relatively recently. In the time of 孔子 and 老子, for example, China was certainly not a nation of any kind. Nor do I think it was one during the Three Kingdoms period, for example.

It had seen the rule of three classical dynasties before 200 B.C.E.

Do they mean the 夏, 商 and 周 dynasties? There is no commonly accepted evidence for the historicity of the 夏 dynasty, and the writ of the other two dynasties probably only extended a few hundred miles from their capitals, I think. Of course, every now and then, they would exert their influence further afield, but saying they ruled the nation of China (whatever that may be) is probably a bit of a stretch.

When Marco Polo wrote of the wonders he had seen over his 20 years in China, [...]

Whether Marco Polo ever existed is nowadays questioned by quite a few historians.

On the other hand, the list of themes seems well thought out, and he does have sound academic credentials. Altogether, I would say it doesn't look bad, but I wouldn't pay $199.95 for it.

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rdferg

My knowledge of Chinese history isn´t that great. I had read a few books on the subject recently and was looking to learn more. I chose the easy (and free) route and downloaded the audio course. So far, I´ve listened to about a third of the course. I probably won´t finish it.

The course would probably be fine for those who know absolutely nothing about China or her history or are looking for a refresher course. He´s trying to cover 5000 years here so he can´t go into too much detail but without the details it ends up being quite boring. And he covers pretty much the same stuff that I had already learned from intro Chinese history textbooks.

I´ve listened to several of the series from this company. They have a few really good lecturers but Dr. Hammond isn´t one of them. I´d suggest downloading 1 of the 36 lectures from a torrent and listening to it before you buy the whole course.

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c_redman

Whether Marco Polo ever existed is nowadays questioned by quite a few historians.

Really?? :blink: Which historians?

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Daan

To give but one example, have a look at Did Marco Polo Go to China?, a book by Frances Wood.

edit: Sorry, I realised only just now what I actually wrote in my earlier post. I should have written that there are historians doubting whether Marco Polo ever went to China (arguing instead that he gained his knowledge from Persian traders). Taking that line of argument a bit further still are a few historians who find it highly suspicious that there is no birth certificate to prove that Marco Polo was, in fact, a historical person. They suspect, but I don't think there is enough evidence for this yet, that the book commonly attributed to Marco Polo is instead only a collation of information from various sources on the Chinese empire, pointing also to the differences between the numerous editions of the work that existed even then. At least, that's what I remember from my Chinese History classes at university.

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Kobo-Daishi

Dear all,

To give but one example, have a look at Did Marco Polo Go to China?, a book by Frances Wood.

I thought I saw a mention of Frances Wood's controversial argument at the Wikipedia entry for "Marco Polo" at one time but now there's nary a word on the subject.

I do remember reading reviews of the book when it first came out though.

I also remember reading articles where other historians refute the points raised in Ms. Wood's book though I wouldn't know if they were true or not.

Kobo-Daishi, PLLA.

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Daan

I'm certainly not qualified to say who's right in this debate, but I do think its existence should at least be pointed out in a course teaching Chinese history, as opposed to just taking a possibly apocryphal story for granted :)

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kdavid

This is an excellent course. You can download it for free if you use torrents.

Just check out the Piratebay or any other torrent website. In fact, if you Google "TTC From Yao to Mao torrent" you'll find a bunch of hits.

I'm seeding the video course right now.

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Don_Horhe

Yes, by 'get' I meant download. I've downloaded two other TTC courses on linguistics by John McWhorter that I'm very pleased with, and was just wondering whether this one is worth the wait and bandwidth.

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dumdumdum

I don't know this particular course, and Ken Hammond seems to be a reputable academic with a Ph.D. from Harvard, but anything that claims Chinese history spans 5,000 years should be taken with a pinch of salt. I had a look at their website and it does feature some claims I don't think would pass muster with modern historians who are experts in the field. Here are some examples:

Most scholars would argue, I think, that China became a nation only relatively recently. In the time of 孔子 and 老子, for example, China was certainly not a nation of any kind. Nor do I think it was one during the Three Kingdoms period, for example.

Do they mean the 夏, 商 and 周 dynasties? There is no commonly accepted evidence for the historicity of the 夏 dynasty, and the writ of the other two dynasties probably only extended a few hundred miles from their capitals, I think. Of course, every now and then, they would exert their influence further afield, but saying they ruled the nation of China (whatever that may be) is probably a bit of a stretch.

Whether Marco Polo ever existed is nowadays questioned by quite a few historians.

On the other hand, the list of themes seems well thought out, and he does have sound academic credentials. Altogether, I would say it doesn't look bad, but I wouldn't pay $199.95 for it.

not that i support the 5000 yrs continuous history babbling, but when china first started its 'relatively' systematic rule most places on earth are 'relatively' uncivilised. we only had egyptian, persian, greek/roman and indian civilisation. and these places in present days either had their cultures displaced (egyptian, greek/roman, persian) or natives displaced (egyptian), except india maintaining its culture and people. so 'relatively' is really, 'relatively' speaking.

anyway, it depends on how we define a 'civilisation' or 'history'. there are many ways, like whether there's a city? a working govt system? a trading place? is there a writing system? some form of religion? is it excerting influence on surrounding people? or modern idea of a 'nation'? different ways of looking at it would give different answers. but since the earliest chinese writing system found is only about 3800 yrs old, saying 5000 yrs of 'recorded history' would be a little too far. 5000 yrs of civilisation/culture, that i wouldnt mind, since there are archaeological evidences lying around (though they are presently not referencing to any specific chinese dynasty).

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SiMaKe

Interesting to see another discussion on the China-the-geographical-entity vs China-the-culture longevity. I find the debates thought-provoking. To me (IMHO of course:rolleyes:) it seems like China-the-culture is far more important than the other one if the intent is to study the people, their religions/moral codes, their customs, their governments, and other institutions. Arguing over boundaries can led one astray from the main objective. A similar example would be "American History" (in fact, probably any country could be substituted here). It didn't "start" in 1776 (the “official" beginning of the USA) but well before that (not "well-before" on the China timescale though). China-the-geographical-entity is merely a subset (albeit a very important one) of the greater issue of Chinese civilization.

It might be helpful to remember the website write-up is an advertisement and might not withstand the scrutiny of careful peer review (as Daan points out). Moreover, even if it was peer-reviewed, there are differing opinions among knowledgeable persons on most topics of significance.

So "get" the course, learn from it what you can, realize it is just someone's (however well-informed/educated/expert) opinion on the topic and reach you're own conclusions. If you encounter something that runs counter to what you thought you learned before, these are excellent opportunities for further investigation when time allows.

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abcdefg

Am listening to an excellent lecture series on the history of China that begins 5,000 years ago and progresses chronologically up to the time of Mao Zedong. The course consists of 36 lectures by Professor Kenneth Hammond, about 30 minutes each in length and it is accompanied by a syllabus.

I'm only on lecture 17, so I'm not in a position to write a review of the whole series, but up to this point I think they are positively brilliant. Reason for mentioning them now instead of waiting until later is that the course is on sale just now at a greatly reduced price.

They are available in several formats, but I downloaded them and am listening to them on my MP-3. The syllabus is an Adobe PDF document.

Here is a link to more information:

http://www.thegreatc...l.aspx?cid=8320

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kdavid

The one on modern history by Prof Richard Baum is also very good.

Yao to Mao is a survey, and ideal for those looking to get their feet wet. The one by Prof Baum is much more in-depth as it only has to deal with Chinese history from 1840+ whereas Hammond's covers everything since the Xia.

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abcdefg
Yao to Mao is a survey, and ideal for those looking to get their feet wet.

I agree. Since I'm at the "getting my feet wet" stage it is real interesting for me. The course your mention by Professor Baum, "The Fall and Rise of China" is next on my fledgling China history list.

What I like in particular is that over the last three or four years I've traveled quite a bit in China to see this or that famous historical site often with only a dim glimmer of why it was important. Now I'm learning more of the background and getting a broader view of how things fit together.

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abcdefg

Yes, @ jbradfor, it seems to be the same course previously discussed. I should have done a search. This post from that earlier threat pretty well sums it up:

So "get" the course, learn from it what you can, realize it is just someone's (however well-informed/educated/expert) opinion on the topic and reach you're own conclusions. If you encounter something that runs counter to what you thought you learned before, these are excellent opportunities for further investigation when time allows.

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rezaf

The course is available on Chinese video websites: search for TTC精品课程-中国历史上下五千年

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paperbagprince23

This man actually just came to my school and did a convocation, entitled "From Mao to Now". I must say I was personally a little disappointed. He was a bit boring, though I will admit he did a good job of describing the content to people who knew nothing about China. But at the same time have heard good things about his "From Yao to Mao" series. I think it would be a fine place to start, but not at that price. It would be better just go get a few books from the library.

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