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China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0195394122 ISBN-10: 0195394127 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Series: What Everyone Needs to Know
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 1 edition (April 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195394127
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195394122
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #355,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

What Everyone Needs to Know

WHAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW About This Series

Who it's for:

Busy people with diverse interests, ranging from college students to professionals, who wish to inform themselves in a succinct yet authoritative manner about a particular topic.

What's inside:

An incisive approach to a complex and timely issue, laid out in a straight-forward, question-and-answer format.

Meet Our Authors

Top experts in their given fields, ranging from an Economist correspondent to a director at the Council on Foreign Relations, you can trust our authors’ expertise and guidance.

Popular Topics in the "What Everyone Needs to Know" Series

  • International Politics
  • Environmental Policies
  • World History
  • Sciences & Math
  • Religion & Spirituality

Review

This short book could be taken on someone's first trip to China... the book provides a useful introduction to most major figures and events in recent Chinese history. Barrett L. McCormick, The Journal of Asian Studies 70/1

More About the Author

Jeffrey Wasserstrom is the author of four books on China and the editor or co-editor of several more, including most recently Chinese Characters: Profiles of Fast-Changing Lives in a Fast-Changing Land, which contains chapters by both fellow academics and such acclaimed journalists as Peter Hessler, Leslie T. Chang, Evan Osnos, and Ian Johnson. Wasserstrom is a Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine and the Editor of the Journal of Asian Studies. He is also the Asia editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books, an Associate Fellow of the Asia Society, and a co-founder of the "China Beat" blog.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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This is a really easy to read book.
Liz
A short book but excellent if you are planning a trip to China, covers past history as well as current status within China and the rest of the world.
Lillian K Earl
Wasserstrom does an excellent job of covering numerous topics given the brevity of the book.
Nahela

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Xujun Eberlein on October 1, 2010
Format: Paperback
Being surprised is something I expect from a good work of fiction, but not necessarily from nonfiction, especially when I am familiar with the subject - or so I thought. Thus it was a treat when I found plenty of surprises in this book, such as the following passage from the section titled "What is the alternative to viewing Mao as a monster?":

"There are many alternatives to thinking of Mao as a fiend who was China's Hitler. One useful one is to see Mao's place in China today as comparable to that of Andrew Jackson's in the United States. Though admittedly far from perfect, the comparison is based on the fact that Jackson is remembered both as someone who played a significant role in the development of a political organization (the Democratic Party) that still has many partisans, and as someone responsible for brutal policies toward Native Americans that are now often referred to as genocidal.

"Both men are thought of as having done terrible things, yet this does not necessarily prevent them from being used as positive symbols. And Jackson still appears on $20 bills, even though Americans tend now to view as heinous the institution of slavery (of which he was a passionate defender) and the early 19th-century military campaigns against Native Americans (in which he took part)."

This comparison is refreshing, and it could only come from someone who knows both American and Chinese history intimately. Admittedly, I have limited knowledge about President Andrew Jackson. On the Chinese internet today, when searching for "President Jackson," glorious descriptions fill my eyes: "people's friend," "the bank killer," a war hero who defeated the British army, a wise politician who prevented the US from splitting apart.
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on April 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
"China in the 21st Century" provides a good background on China, though it is rather bland reading. In addition to providing background on China, Wasserstrom also addresses important issues (eg. "Is war likely over Taiwan?") in a even-handed manner. The author also brings appropriate focus - eg. reminding readers that even though intensively competitive, about 70% of its largest businesses are still state-owned. However, the book lacks any solid projections for the future - especially China's economics.
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47 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Adam Daniel Mezei on April 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
I've long-admired Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom's China writings for the way in which this author succeeds in making the country's more obscure bits that much clearer for the novice China enthusiast or budding Sinologist.

Rather than further mystify the country's infamous "exoticness" to Westerners and cast his readers further into doubt in copping to that most annoying of journalist/blogger catchalls like "if it's one thing for certain, nothing is ever what it appears to be in China and everything changes constantly," Wasserstrom distances himself from the usual scholarly bluster and navel-gazing by employing a novel Q&A approach in getting his book's premise across. China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know indeed attempts, as its title promises, to include just about everything anyone needs to know about China.

Leaving aside for the moment the discussion about the quality of the material to be found inside its covers or about Professor Wasserstrom's throw-down (though I love it!) that what you're about to read is "what everyone needs to know" about China, the book's written using concise, accessible, easy-to-digest paragraphs.

This Socratic technique alone places the book firmly into front-of-mind awareness for the novice China reader. Those finding themselves armed with only the most rudimentary of knowledge about that juggernaut nation to the East will walk away, as Wasserstrom surmises "...[knowing] a few more basic things about the people of the PRC than they did when they read its first pages." Old China Hands, too, might appreciate this book as a ready reference, and perhaps even those claiming "expert" status about the country will be pleasantly surprised to discover how the book challenges several of their rigorously-held assumptions.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mike on May 8, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Most of the book covers Chinese history which is useful and informative in itself but only a small portion of the book provides guidance on how that history shapes the people and country now and going forward. The book is also written in short sections on specific historical topics and so doesn't really have much of a flow to it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By RetiredMilitaryOfficer on July 8, 2011
Format: Paperback
A succinct but readable account concerning major questions about China. The author makes some interesting comparisons between the PRC and the U.S. at comparable stages in development. I also found his characterisation of China as closer to "Brave New World" than "1984" very apt. He did, however, seem to be an apologist for or to downplay some fairly reprehensible PRC actions such as the Chinese intervention in the Korean War and the Tiananmen Massacre. I do agree with the author that we need to understand the Chinese perspective much better, but I disagree with the author's seeming belief that most PRC actions become acceptable if we look at them through a PRC lens. I also disagree with the author's Pollyanna attitude towards PRC intentions. Despite some reservations, I still think this book is well worth reading.
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