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China: A Macro History (An East Gate Book) Paperback – November 30, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-1563247316 ISBN-10: 1563247313 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 335 pages
  • Publisher: M. E. Sharpe; 2 edition (November 30, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1563247313
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563247316
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #405,768 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Several good histories of China for general readers have been published in recent years, e.g., Witold Rodzinski's The Walled Kingdom (Free Pr., 1984). Cotterell's book, however, is too amateurish to be among them. It alternates between convention and error and often condenses history in a confusing way. Huang's macro history, on the other hand, is most welcome. It builds a structure of novel interpretation and vivid anecdote on a solid base of original research and covers the whole sweep of Chinese history, making comparative references to Western history. Huang seeks to explain the present Chinese reforms as the culmination of a commercialization trend that has broken down the old peasant society and brought China into the mainstream of world history. It is debatable whether Imperial China was as stagnant as Huang says, and his theory of the breakup of traditional China bears a resemblance to old-fashioned modernization theory. Still, his book is a boldly opinionated, freshly written synthesis that will be read with pleasure and profit by all. Andrew J. Nathan, Columbia Univ.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Boris Aleksandrovsky on November 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ray Huang's "China: A Macro History" kept me up for a few nights in a row. Dr. Huang posed an extremely ambitious goal to explain fundamental differences of Western and Chinese civilizations, and to explore trends of Chinese government, military, cultural and religious institutions as they develop from legendary to modern times. The book is organized in chapters, each covering roughly a time span of the major dynasty of the Middle Kingdom. Concentration is more on trends (thus the title word "macro") then on events, more on developments of concepts rather then careers. People and events are represented inasmuch as they represent the underlining trend. As such every dynasty rise and eventual fall is represented, with credits due to each for the developments of Chinese nation. The institution of monarchy is a fascinating blend of ritual, unreal and fantastic, and idealistic, with an impressive organizational achievement in management of the country with the base of millions of agrarian households.
The only grievance I have with the book is that understandably enough Dr. Huang had to skip over a lot of material (or he would risk leaving us with yet another "The Decline and fall of the Roman Empire"); however in doing so he is rarely consistent, e.g. not explaining the elemental precepts of Confucianism, organization of Chinese army and bureaucracy; and fundamental principles behind state examinations. All those, however, can be gotten from other sources, and as such will tempt the reader to explore more.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Tony Kronecker on September 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
As a Hong Kong Chinese, I find this book unputdownable. Except for the fact that the Taiwanese-style spelling of the names of Chinese historcal figures a bit hard to grasp (to me), it does not in anyway discount the readability because Ray Huang did not let any contemporary political situation/ideology to hinder his anaylsis of Chinese History on a Geo-political, fiscal policy and monetory policy grounds. Indeed, KMT or not, Communist or not, the Ruling class's primary concern is on how to achieve en effective governance over the vast number of ruled. The central theme of the book is powerful, well presented, and logical. Interestingly, Milton Friedman , in his book "Money Mischief", has discussed the monetory policy (Gold standard ) in the Western world from 1830 - 1930 which has impacted on China directly and significantly, which echoes Ray's finding.
Indeed as advocated by Ray Huang in this book, time for the Chinese to depart form the traditional chinese views on our history (moral vs immoral; rural vs urban; poor vs rich). We should analyse our hisotry based on issue of effective governance (e.g. what is it? To promote well-being of people or of hardliners with iron-fist and tanks?)
Alas, Ray has passed away in 2000. I would like to convery my thankfullness for what he left to us.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Late Professor Huang's review of Chinese history offers the most inspiring reading experience I have ever had. Although there are a few points which may appear a bit difficult to grasp, his unmatched depth in understanding and vision of China provides the reader with a refreshing perspective of interpreting Chinese history. This is especially true to Chinese readers who have been exposed to more or less the same interpretation of history for hundreds of years. His analysis of the so-called "blunders" and humiliation derived from Ming and Qing dynasties into early 20th century, was particularly interesting.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 7, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is an ambitious effort to provide an overview of Chinese history. Huang divides Chinese history into 7 periods. The first is the period of state formation. The second is what Huang terms the First Empire, essentially the Qin and Han empires. This is followed by a chaotic interregnum, the Second Empire of the Sui, Tang, and Song, the Mongolian interlude, and the Third Empire of the Ming and the Qing. The final period is the one we're presently in, the destruction of traditional China and its replacement by a modern state. Huang covers the major dynastic changes, expansion of Chinese culture into the South of what is now modern China, and major intellectual trends. A good deal of the narrative, drawn from traditional chronicles, is 'top down' histories of the Imperial Courts. This is all solid.

Huang's efforts to provide an overview of the major structural features of Chinese history is surprisingly traditional. Huang presents the early formation of centralized Chinese states as driven to a large extent by geographic factors,including the very long border with the nomadic peoples of central Asia. Huang then presents the Chinese state as having most of the same structural features from its Qin foundation to the end of the Qing. This is very much a traditional description of a centralized bureacracy resting on a mass of peasants and supported by an ideology stressing social stability and resistant to intellectual innovation. Huang doesn't quite project the Marxist cliche of the 'Asiatic mode of production' or other cliches of 'oriental despotism' but his analysis isn't far away from such approaches.
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