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Comment: Shared Knowledge is a not for profit public charity! Check us out on facebook. We provide funding for educational programs in Richmond, Virginia. PLEASE READ FULL DESCRIPTION -USED GOOD- This book has been read and may show wear to the cover and or pages. There may be some dog-eared pages. In some cases the internal pages may contain highlighting/margin notes/underlining or any combination of these markings. The binding will be secure in all cases. This is a good reading and studying copy and has been verified that all pages are legible and intact. If the book contained a CD it is not guaranteed to still be included. Your purchase directly supports our scholarship program as well as our partner charities. All items are packed and shipped from the Amazon warehouse. Thanks so much for your purchase!
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The Search for Modern China Paperback – January 1, 1991


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 912 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1st Paperback edition (January 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393307808
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393307801
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,323 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Spence advocates democracy in China and presents contemporary views of its oppressive history, including Chiang Kai-Shek's fascist supporters and the bloodbath known as the Cultural Revolution. "A splendid achievement, this sweeping . . . epic chronicle compresses four centuries of political and social change into a sharply observant narrative," said PW . Photos.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA --The difficulty of finding a complete, one-volume history of China is no longer a problem with publication of this work, which covers Chinese history from the 16th-century Ming Dynasty to the 1989 "China Spring" demonstrations. The 200+ photographs and illustrations, many in color and previously unpublished, include historical notes that add understanding to the art and the stories illustrated. The text is written in an informative manner that will appeal to students; their lack of knowledge of Chinese history is forstalled by the comprehensive glossary that explains phrases, people, and events. High-school teachers will bless you for buying this well-researched volume.
-Dolores Steinhauer, Jefferson Sci-Tech, Alexandria, VA
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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This is probably my favorite Chinese history book that I've read.
drD
Spence's prose is very readable and the book is obviously exceedingly well researched.
Koreen
The book will grab your attention from the first page and hold it until the last.
R. M. Williams

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

79 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Phillip J. Moore on December 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book for several reasons. The writing is excellent. It does not read like dry history. The author starts with the fall of the Ming dynasty. This is an excellent choice. By starting here, the reader better understands why China views the west it does. This places current events more in historical perspective. I also liked the author making value judgments about various historical figures and events. I am sure these value judgments will provoke controversy by the academic community. Spence does a good job of showing that the Communist revolution was more than a cult of Mao. Others were involved and Mao had his limits of power. This book is an excellent choice for someone who knows little about Chinese history but wants a quick survey of recent history.
As for weaknesses, I thought the coverage of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution was weak. The horror of these two events is discussed too dispassionately. If readers have no previous knowledge of these two events, it is hard from this text to understand the nature of the true tragedy.
As a disclaimer, I am not a scholar of Chinese history. I had only read a few books and have had no academic courses in Chinese history
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Koreen on November 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
I have read Jonathan Spence's history course on modern China is one of the most popular courses at Yale University. "The Search for Modern China" is a great introduction to modern Chinese history. Spence's prose is very readable and the book is obviously exceedingly well researched.

Unlike the tendency of most Americans to falsely claim the United States and the West in general are at the center of the historical unverse, this book presents modern Chinese history primarily in a Chinese context. I especially enjoyed the chapters about the fall of the Ming dynasty and the Kangxi emperor, who was probably the wisest and most capable of the Qing emperors.

Americans and other people should be better able to understand after reading Jonathan Spence's book, the resentment many Chinese still have about recent, as well as current Western interference and continued popular hostility toward Japan. For nearly a century, as Spence ably writes, China endured a system of western imposed unequal treaties, a semi-colonial western and Japanese presence in many large Chinese cities and Japanese invasion. The western intrusion in China had the inadvertent consequences of weakening the Qing dynasty. The Japanese invasion prevented Jiang Jieshi or Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist armies from completely defeating Mao's Communist forces. Had there been no Japanese invasion of China, it is likely the communists would have never prevailed over the Nationalists. The century of western and Japanese imperialism in China helps explain why many Chinese still harbor strong suspicions and resentment about recent and current United States policies toward China.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Eric D. Austrew on July 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
This textbook is the perfect introduction for students interested in an overview of modern Chinese history and a valuable reference for scholars already immersed in the subject. Drawing on his many years of teaching the survey course at Yale on Chinese history, Spence covers the major events and themes of the past four hundred years with scholarly thoroughness and a light literary hand. Although the amount of material is daunting - even Spence doesn't use it all in his course- Search for Modern China is written to be accessible to the layperson as well as the academic. Highly recommended for anyone interested in China today.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bryan Walker on November 12, 1998
Format: Paperback
Older readers may recall those Walter Kronkite-narrated documentaries where Kronkite kept saying "And you were there!", even though the documentaries themselves were stripped-down butcherings. This book does take you there. Spence accomplishes what so few historians do--he approaches his subject on its own terms, and within the narrative seeks to immerse the reader in the temporal and geographic subject matter. This is one of the few--perhaps the only--narrative surveys where readers might root for protagonists and feel anger toward villains. In reading this book, you feel as if you _are_ China; the turmoils of the late 1800s and 1900s strike you physically, at the gut. Each chapter conveys not only the happenings, but also the mood of the period--you feel tranquil and arrogant as you read about the Qing Dynasty at the height of its power, you begin to feel anxious as the Western world arrives, and you feel helpless as internal strife and Western demands eat away at the Empire. If you have near-zero interest in history books and will read only ten in your lifetime, this should be one of them. (PS--If you are ever in New Haven during school terms, make sure to sit in on a Spence lecture.)
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Zhang Kai on August 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
I'm a Chinese and I was fancinated by it when I was working as a visiting scholar at a Canadian University. I couldn't help buying it for myself when I came back to mainland China later. It's a little expensive to buy it from here, but it's worth it. For me, this book is the most comprehensive and objective history work about modern China that I have seen.
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