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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2010
I've been doing some research on Chinese history and found Dr. Tanner's book extremely useful. The book is very well written and provides a very comprehensive historical account of China from the early empire to the current day. His book is based on extensive research and he has a very good understanding of Chinese literature and art. Tanner has also compiled a bibliography on Chinese history, which can be very useful if you want to do further research on the subject.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2013
Just what I was looking for. A through but not arcane recounting of the history of China reflecting the latest scholarship but readable by the interested amateur. Rather better than the Fairbanks book, in my opinion.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2013
Helps understand what we now call China as the multidimensional, millenary civilization/region it is & how that gradually evolved.

Offers a background to place various ideas the modern PRC & modern Han insist on, real or made-believe.

The text is intertwine wit occasional maps & images, right there on topic instead of in some appendage later in the book.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2014
This book covers the history of China to about 1800. I'm not a big fan of reading history, but I wanted to know more about Chinese history, recognizing what a huge subject that is and how little I knew about it previously. This book was just what I was looking for. It covers the key people, the expanding/shrinking empires, major culture trends, and of course the history, at a deep enough level so it made sense, but not so deep that I got lost in it. It's somewhat confusing, but that's more do to the complexity of the subject matter and my ignorance than any fault of the book. I would recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2015
Good intro for people who don't know much about it. I'm a specialist in Latin American History, and I think I got to know some of the basics of modern Chinese history through this book. The narrative is not fascinating. Sometimes it focuses too much on details, names and very specific events rather than overall trends and a more conceptual approach. There is really very little about economic history up until after the communist revolution, and even then economic history is deficient. Politics constitutes a major framework for this survey book, but it does not always fully explain the social groups and economic forces behind it. Emphasis on China's self-perception as a declining power in the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century. Mao's era is also only superficially covered. The dynamics of the cultural revolution are only sketched. Famine is briefly referred to without much depth. The one-child policy and the problem of population explosion are not even developed. Also, the mechanisms that led to the explosive economic growth in the last decades are not explained. Despite all of these issues, I think it gives a good overall impression of the late imperial, republican, and communist period. It's not easy to include so many things in a survey book. I just wished the book had a bit more bite to it, it gets dull at times.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2014
Informative easily read first overview for an amateur like me! Can recommend for first time readers of China history. Just go ahead.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2015
This was a solid basic history of China up to the late 19th century. Given the vastness of the material, in both time and space covered, the author has to move along at a pretty good clip. Not being very familiar with Chinese history, culture, or geography, it would get a bit confusing at times (which is, certainly, not the fault of the author). Must of the history is high politics --- the rise and fall of kingdom after kingdom. There is a fair amount about philosophy and the arts; less about peasant life and rural culture (which isn't a surprise as the historian is limited by the nature of the documents he has to work with.)

Overall, a decent work. I found it helpful to get a "big-picture" sense of the history before moving on to Hsu's "The Rise of Modern China."

Recommended.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2013
This is my first book about Chinese history. It pretty much covers everything from the stone age all the way up until the 1800's. I haven't finished it yet (about 85%) but I have already learned quite a bit about Chinese history and culture. It's a little difficult to follow everything however since there is just so much history, and the fact that its hard to remember Chinese names and locations (for me at least). I plan on purchasing the next book that continues from the 1800's to the present day after I'm done reading this book.
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on June 28, 2015
This is volume 1 of one of the best short works on the history of China I have encountered. It is interesting to compare the author's view of events with those of other historians. Well and clearly written. An excellent introduction to a very important aspect of human history that is much neglected in the West.
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on July 9, 2015
A great straight forward book that helps link together China's journey into the word earn world.
I'd recommend this book for anyone wanting to understand China, whether they be a novice or someone whole already has knowledge on this world power.
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