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Modern China: A Very Short Introduction Paperback – April 7, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (April 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199228027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199228027
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.3 x 4.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #279,461 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A brilliant essay. Timothy Garton, TLS A perfect overview for level 5 students who are not yet familiar with the workings of China - politically and socially Clodagh Harrington, De Montfort University Anyone with an interest in China, and anyone who teaches about China, knows the importance of a brief and reliable introduction to the topic of contemporary China ... This book is not only a far more reliable overview, and the product of a serious historian, but it is an immensely enjoyable read. David S.G. Goodman, Journal of Contemporary History

About the Author


Rana Mitter is University Lecturer in the History and Politics of Modern China at the University of Oxford, and a Fellow of St Cross College. He is the author of The Manchurian Myth: Nationalism, Resistance and Collaboration in Modern China, and A Bitter Revolution: China's Struggle with the Modern World (OUP, 2004), for which he won the title Times Higher Education Young Academic Author of the Year 2005. The book was also runner-up for the Longman/History Today Book of the Year prize, a finalist for the British Academy Book Prize, and named by Foreign Affairs as one of five "must-read" Notable Books on China. He presents and comments regularly on radio and television, and his reviews and essays have appeared in the Financial Times, History Today, and London Review of Books.

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Customer Reviews

Is it too much to expect a top university press to produce a decent book?
Cambridge Don
This is indeed a very short introduction, compressing a great deal of information about a vast subject into a few pages.
Absinthe
It is well worth reading for anyone who is interested in what forces have shaped the Modern China.
Dr. Bojan Tunguz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on October 5, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Modern China is a fascinating subject in its own right. China, in general, has been one of the most intriguing countries in the world for most of its history. The most populous nation, China is an heir to an ancient civilization that at one point surpassed all the others in the world in terms of cultural and technological achievement. Yet, over the centuries that civilization had fallen behind others and only in recent decades has China started to approach again its erstwhile status of a great power. This raise has been rather gradual, and with many setbacks has taken the better part of the last hundred years. The Modern China is a work in progress, and this very short introduction provides one of the best overviews of this process. The book covers most of the Chinese twentieth century history, and it's noteworthy in that it doesn't see the arrival of the communists in 1949 so much as a clean break from the past as a continuation of the previous attempts at modernization by the Nationalists and their predecessors. The communist rule is also approached more critically, somewhat downplaying the extent of the most egregious years of the Cultural Revolution, and emphasizing the discontinuities within the Communist regime and its policies. In particular, the author argues that some of the economic advances in the recent years can be traced to the set of reforms that started in the late 70s.

One of the strengths of this book is the attention that it pays to the cultural as well as technological and economic advances. Since most people in the West are at least somewhat familiar with some of the most prominent recent Chinese cinematographic achievements, this provides an accessible connection to the cultural trends in China these days.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on January 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
China is a key player in today's world, and it is important to understand its background. I've tried other sources, and unfortunately gotten lost in a maze of different dynasties that have come and gone in its 3,000+ year history. The good news about "Modern China" is that it doesn't get bogged down in that very old history. Just learning that while the last (Ming) dynasty fell in 1912, and the subsequent government collapsed again less than 40 years later - after involvement in WWI (intent was to get Allies' support for forcing Germany out of China - instead, got Japan forced in), being dominated by Japan for decades, the Sino-Japanese War (1937-45), and the Civil War (1946-49) helps one understand why today's government is quite leery of losing control and possibly repeating some of those tragic happenings. Resentment over being taken advantage of by various nations contributed to the Ming collapse - especially the British wanting a market for opium (banned within China) produced in Bengal, leading to the first Opium War (1839-1942), followed by unfair treaties, the forced introduction of disruptive influences (eg. Christian missionaries) - it's a wonder China got over its xenophobia and effort to be self-sufficient. Then there was the loss of Taiwan to Japan, the brutally put down Boxer Rebellion (U.S. participated), and monstrous reparations imposed ($333 million, over 39 years).

Confucianism is also briefly addressed - more of an ethical system than religion, stressing mutual obligations, hierarchies, self-development (education and improvement), and an ordered society that abhors violence and tends to look down on profit-making.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Absinthe on May 25, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is indeed a very short introduction, compressing a great deal of information about a vast subject into a few pages. I find myself referring to it often in order to get names and dates straight. Mitter is sympathetic to Mao, and he tends to downplay the cruelty of the Communist regime under the Chairman. In particular, he gives smaller estimates for the number of dead under Mao than other specialists, and he gives Mao credit for economic achievements that many scholars dispute. Half the book is devoted to questioning whether contemporary China's society, economy and culture are "modern". These are meaningless questions, in my opinion, but Mitter's discussions about contemporary Chinese attitudes towards women's rights, eugenics, economic growth, literature, cinema etc. can be illuminating. On balance, Mitter knows more than I do about this subject, and he writes clearly, so I recommend it as a very short introduction to an absorbing topic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Bojan Tunguz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on December 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
Modern China is a fascinating subject in its own right. China, in general, has been one of the most intriguing countries in the world for most of its history. The most populous nation, China is an heir to an ancient civilization that at one point surpassed all the others in the world in terms of cultural and technological achievement. Yet, over the centuries that civilization had fallen behind others and only in recent decades has China started to approach again its erstwhile status of a great power. This raise has been rather gradual, and with many setbacks has taken the better part of the last hundred years. The Modern China is a work in progress, and this very short introduction provides one of the best overviews of this process. The book covers most of the Chinese twentieth century history, and it's noteworthy in that it doesn't see the arrival of the communists in 1949 so much as a clean break from the past as a continuation of the previous attempts at modernization by the Nationalists and their predecessors. The communist rule is also approached more critically, somewhat downplaying the extent of the most egregious years of the Cultural Revolution, and emphasizing the discontinuities within the Communist regime and its policies. In particular, the author argues that some of the economic advances in the recent years can be traced to the set of reforms that started in the late 70s.

One of the strengths of this book is the attention that it pays to the cultural as well as technological and economic advances. Since most people in the West are at least somewhat familiar with some of the most prominent recent Chinese cinematographic achievements, this provides an accessible connection to the cultural trends in China these days.
Read more ›
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