Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Discovering History in China 2nd Edition

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231058117
ISBN-10: 023105811X
Why is ISBN important?
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy used On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
$4.70 On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
Buy new On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
$32.00 On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
More Buying Choices
14 New from $16.98 35 Used from $0.01
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Amazon Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student

May's Book with Buzz
"Valiant Ambition" by Nathaniel Philbrick. George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution. See more
$32.00 FREE Shipping. Only 1 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • Discovering History in China
  • +
  • History in Three Keys: The Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth
Total price: $67.00
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews


Every historian of China should read this book. For what Paul A. Cohen has done here is lay bare the hidden assumptions that have informed and skewed much American research on 19th- and 20th-century China. He shows that the questions most American historians have asked about the China past, and consequently the kind of histories they have written, have been determined as much by their own cultural biases as by the historical realities of China itself.... A consciousness-raising experience.

(American Historical Review)

About the Author

Paul A. Cohen is Edith Stix Wasserman Professor of Asian Studies and History at Wellesley College and an associate at the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, Harvard University.


Product Details

  • Series: Studies of the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University
  • Paperback: 243 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; 2nd edition (April 15, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 023105811X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231058117
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,965,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See both customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Top Customer Reviews

By Daniel Stroup on March 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The following review is based on the 1984 edition.

In "Discovering History in China" Cohen argues that much of the scholarship in the West that had occurred on China prior to the mid-1970's, (particularly American scholarship), had been conducted with an "ethnocentric distortion". Because the West had an impact in shaping modern China, pre-World War II (W.W. II) studies on China tended to focus on matters Western countries had a direct role in, such as the Opium Wars, missionary work, the Taiping uprising, sino-foreign trade, etc.. These studies tended to be from missionaries, diplomats, and others who had no formal training as historians.

In post-W.W. II studies of China (while the subject matter had widened) emphasis "was still to an overwhelming extent on the shaping role of the Western intrusion"(p.2). Much of what was written after W.W. II, according to Cohen, viewed the Western role in shaping modern China in a positive light. It was not until the liberalism of the late 1960's that historians began to question this purely positive look at imperialism and looked instead at ways the Western involvement in China had affected the "natural forward movement of Chinese history". However, many scholars still saw the West as the main antagonist in preventing China's 'modern development'.

Chapter one deals with the amount of influence Western nations had on events shaping China in the late 1800's. Cohen believes that the amount of influence the Western imperialist countries had on events inside China during the late 1800's was negligible overall. It was only after the Tongzhi Restoration that the Western presence in China played any significant role in shaping Chinese affairs.
Read more ›
1 Comment 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Though this will be a tough read for non -specialists, Cohen is undoubtedly the most adventurous and insightful writer and historian to date who follows and pushes the Fairbank school of "China-first" or insider history. Forget history from the ground up, this is history from the prevailing culture as a force against western narrativism and its single European-culture perspective. Though historians suffer from a host of obfuscating issues to this day, at least Cohen leads the way in explaining what they are and offering insight into what can be done. Want to understand some of these problems? Read this and his "History in Three Keys".
Comment 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Discovering History in China
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
This item: Discovering History in China