- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 2nd edition (1999)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0042X50MO
- Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,407,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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J. D. Spence's Second Edition edition (The Search for Modern China (Second Edition) [Paperback])(1999) Paperback – 1999
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Top Customer Reviews
However, few people appreciate what a ground-breaking book this was, at least in its first edition. That it was a popular history of China ("popular" in the sense that it was not primarily designed to be a college text) was not unique; reasonably well-researched surveys of Chinese history have been around since the nineteenth century. But for those of us who sat through an undergraduate course on Chinese history prior to 1980, Spence's approach was refreshingly un-Eurocentered.
Once upon a time, Chinese history was presented in two neat halves: the first half was "traditional" China from prehistoric times to the Opium Wars (1840's). The second half was everything else going forward. The overall impression was that everything changed when the white man appeared - which is, of course, a misperception, to put it mildly. Spence conceives of "modern" Chinese history as beginning with the Ming Dynasty, and treated the Western intervention as just one theme among many.
Thus, Spence was able to present a new view of China to a new generation, and it was a viewpoint that explains a great deal more than previous ones did. That he does it in such a compelling way, opening new vistas up to us in the process, is what makes this a great book. A great deal of thought and sensitivity has gone into this work, and it deserves to be appreciated for that.
To me, the most interesting and educational part of the book is its first third covering the history leading to modern China. My prior knowledge of that part of Chinese history was from high school textbooks, bits and pieces from other literature, so the systematic and coherent narrative of the Qing dynasty and the events leading to its establishment was educational and fascinating. I salute Prof. Spence for that.
The pre-modern China part was not the reason for me to read this book. I was looking for a comprehensive and objective work on the history of modern China, especially the first half of the 20th century. Soon after I turned to the pages of that part, I was puzzled, stunned and deeply disappointed by its bizarrely unbalanced coverage. Sometimes, I felt I was reading a long excerpt from a typical document of the CCP's propaganda apparatus which my father used to serve but despises now. The difficulty of gathering materials should not justify wholesale style quoting of a political party's documents. The reason we need scholars like Prof.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fantastic book. It goes much beyond than a text book. It is fun to read and unbiased since it only tells what happened.Published 17 months ago by foxmulder_ms
I used Spence to help me build a lecture quickly for my World History class. The prose is very readable and provides interesting information and "flavor. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Friend of Hobbits
I gave them 5 stars because they did everything exactly as they said they would-quick and easy. What else could be better?Published on February 10, 2014 by Weston Gentry
Excellent！The product is full of high quality. It is a better choice to select the similar product from this seller.Published on January 11, 2014 by Liu Shuangqiu
This is a fairly good book. However, I was disappointed by the massive work of pre-1800's China and a very quick, light skipping over World War 2. Read morePublished on November 28, 2013 by W. Sockwell
This book is in the brand new condition and it cost like 45 in school bookstore. Thanks for providing such great service. Read morePublished on September 26, 2013 by Christine
This book has been a great help to me im in Grad. school and this is are main source book.Published on March 16, 2013 by Joshua Friedman
bought this for my chinese film history class last term. this is a very good book that explains China's past in a way that I can understand itPublished on February 20, 2013 by Eiri Uesugi