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dreamon

China History Overview Books

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dreamon

Hello all,

Here is a series of books that cover the history of China up to modern times. Are they informative, objective, enjoyable to read?

Michael Loewe and Edward L. Shaughnessy. The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 BC. Hardcover: 1180 pages, Cambridge University Press (March 13, 1999) ISBN-10: 0521470307, ISBN-13: 978-0521470308

A 6-volume series on the History of Imperial China: (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, General Editor: Timothy Brook)

Mark Edward Lewis. The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han. Hardcover: 336 pages (April 2007) ISBN-10: 067402477X, ISBN-13: 978-0674024779

Mark Edward Lewis. China between Empires: The Northern and Southern Dynasties. Hardcover: 352 pages (February 2009) ISBN-10: 0674026055, ISBN-13: 978-0674026056

Mark Edward Lewis. China's Cosmopolitan Empire: The Tang Dynasty. Hardcover: 368 pages (June 2009) ISBN-10: 067403306X, ISBN-13: 978-0674033061

Dieter Kuhn. The Age of Confucian Rule: The Song Transformation of China. Hardcover: 368 pages (March 2009) ISBN-10: 0674031466, ISBN-13: 978-0674031463

Timothy Brook. The Troubled Empire: China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties. Hardcover: 336 pages (June 2010) ISBN-10: 0674046021, ISBN-13: 978-0674046023

William T. Rowe. China's Last Empire: The Great Qing. Hardcover: 368 pages (October 2009) ISBN-10: 0674036123, ISBN-13: 978-0674036123

Another question: Is there a wallmap of China that is both physical and political, and has both pinyin + tones and characters? If not, what is the best map avaiable? (I am a beginner and cannot read characters yet.) Thanks!

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Kobo-Daishi

Dear Dreamon,

Most of the books on your list are available for preview at Google Books.

The Cambridge History of Ancient China: From the Origins of Civilization to 221 BC

The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han

China between Empires: The Northern and Southern Dynasties

China's Cosmopolitan Empire: The Tang Dynasty

China's Last Empire: The Great Qing

The only two books not available for preview are:

Dieter Kuhn. The Age of Confucian Rule: The Song Transformation of China. Hardcover: 368 pages (March 2009) ISBN-10: 0674031466, ISBN-13: 978-0674031463

Timothy Brook. The Troubled Empire: China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties. Hardcover: 336 pages (June 2010) ISBN-10: 0674046021, ISBN-13: 978-0674046023

I hope you're able to view the page previews. Some countries have different copyright laws so might not allow for the previews.

Also, Google might be banned where you're at.

When I looked through the books, I got the impression that the Belknap books were more geared toward a general audience while the Cambridge book was geared to scholars and academicians.

I thought the Belknap imprint was Harvard University Press' general audience division but I guess it's not. :)

I guess I got that impression because the Harvard books only have about 350 pages each while the Cambridge book is almost 1,200 pages in length.

It seems that the Cambridge book is kind of a prequel to the 15-volume Cambridge History of China series which covers imperial China to the present.

Unfortunately Google Books no longer has previews for those books. When Google was not so fearful of copyright infringement laws they had practically entire volumes online for preview.

Kobo-Daishi, PLLA.

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Daan
It seems that the Cambridge book is kind of a prequel to the 15-volume Cambridge History of China series which covers imperial China to the present.

Exactly right. Note that this prequel was actually written after the Cambridge History of China series :)

The Belknap series looks good, although I can't say I've read any of those books. Yet. As to the map, I'm not sure whether there are any that have Hànyǔ pīnyīn with tone marks. I don't think so.

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dreamon

Most of the books on your list are available for preview at Google Books.

Dear Kobo-Daishi,

Thank you for your suggestion, I will certainly look at Google previews. However, an opinion of someone who already finished one or more of the books will certainly remain highly valuable.

Also, Google might be banned where you're at.

I am in the U.S. at the moment. Here only some of us may self-impose bans on reading history (and learning languages) because of ignorance and/or lack of free time.

I guess I got that impression because the Harvard books only have about 350 pages each while the Cambridge book is almost 1,200 pages in length.

Perhaps, the number of pages roughly reflects the number of years? (That was my guess.) I am not at all a history scholar, so general audience books are precisely what I need. But most general-audience books on Chinese history are single-volume books that cover very little. For example, I am now reading Patricia B. Ebrey's "The Cambridge Illustrated History of China" and, when I saw on this forum people saying that Cao Cao was one of the most important rulers in imperial China, I realized that I cannot recall anything he did. I came back to that section and found a single paragraph on him that says pretty much nothing of substance. Clearly, even for a sketchy feel for what was going on, I need to read more.

... the 15-volume Cambridge History of China series which covers imperial China to the present.

I saw that there was a series of books, but there is no way, at present, for me to read 15 volumes of scholarly text and still find time to attempt learning Chinese (and keep my day job, etc).

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gato

Here are a couple of threads on recommendations of Chinese history books. Spence's "Search for Modern China" is a good place to start, as is the John Fairbank book.

http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/9136-readable-chinese-history-books/

Readable Chinese history books

http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/2007-best-historical-books-about-china

Best Historical Books about China

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dreamon

Here are a couple of threads on recommendations of Chinese history books. Spence's "Search for Modern China" is a good place to start, as is the John Fairbank book.

http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/9136-readable-chinese-history-books/

Readable Chinese history books

http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/2007-best-historical-books-about-china

Best Historical Books about China

Thank you for the links, gato! Spence is on my table already, waiting for its turn. For a prequel to Spence I am planning to use Valerie Hansen "The Open Empire: A History of China to 1600". But I have a feeling that even for up-to-1600 a single volume will not work at all. I will also try snapshot books such as Charles Benn "China's Golden Age: Everyday Life in the Tang Dynasty". Perhaps the discussions you pointed will suggest more approaches.

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gato

Valerie Hanson's is more for people who are already familiar with the basics of Chinese history, I think, as it's trying to make the argument that China was more open to foreign cultures than people typically give it credit for.

The Fairbank book is probably better as an overview.

http://www.amazon.com/China-New-History-Second-Enlarged/dp/0674018281

China: A New History, Second Enlarged Edition by John King Fairbank and Merle Goldman

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Kobo-Daishi

Dear Dreamon,

For example, I am now reading Patricia B. Ebrey's "The Cambridge Illustrated History of China" and, when I saw on this forum people saying that Cao Cao was one of the most important rulers in imperial China, I realized that I cannot recall anything he did. I came back to that section and found a single paragraph on him that says pretty much nothing of substance. Clearly, even for a sketchy feel for what was going on, I need to read more.

Cao Cao

I also don't see what's so remarkable about him either.

Kobo-Daishi, PLLA.

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Kobo-Daishi

Dear all,

Spence's "Search for Modern China" is a good place to start, as is the John Fairbank book.

Fairbank is a good overview.

Spence is on "modern" China. It starts with the end of the Ming, goes through the Qing, the Republican era, WWII, the civil war, the founding of the People's Republic up to TAM.

Kobo-Daishi, PLLA.

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