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The Cambridge Illustrated History of China Paperback – January 25, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0521124331 ISBN-10: 0521124336 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2nd edition (January 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521124336
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521124331
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,433 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Book Description

In this sumptuously illustrated single-volume history, now in its second edition, noted historian Patricia Buckley Ebrey traces the origins of Chinese culture from prehistoric times to the present. Both a comprehensive introduction to an extraordinary civilization and an expert exploration of the continuities and disjunctures of Chinese history, Professor Ebrey's book has become an indispensable guide to China past and present.

About the Author

Patricia Buckley Ebrey is Professor of History at the University of Washington and the author of multiple books and articles.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Hanxuemi on May 12, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a truly helpful and stimulating introduction to Chinese History, an ideal companion volume to more structured, non-illustrated histories: clear, highly explanatory maps; excellent choice of images and visual documents that bring to life China's bygone ages. Although the book focusses on broad historical trends across China's pre-dynastic and imperial ages up to modern times, it also offers boxes that deal with iconic figures of their times and with cultural issues that defined each historic period. I use this book as one of my sources to teach a Chinese Cultural History course and it has never let me down. Its only weakness lies in the dearth of parallel text translations: unfortunately a very common feature of books dealing with Chinese culture, history, literature etc. written in the English language. Offering access to the original in Chinese can be a bonus, as some of the poems or documents quoted in English are not always to be found easily in Chinese over the net or elsewhere.
Still, a wonderful Chinese History book, highly recommended.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brian Griffith on March 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
Ebrey is always sensitive to the implications of events for ordinary people and for women. She constructs her history like a vast collage of voices, and strives to include every sort of person in the tale. Her narrative features numerous sidebars offering fascinating sub-plots, on topics like Tang-era love stories, house construction, The Biographies of Heroic Women by Liu Xiang (79-8 BC), codes of crime and punishment, legendary demons, village fairs, popular dramas such as Injustice to Dou E, modern painting, or the life of feminist writer Ding Ling (1904-85). Almost every page is quietly entertaining.

--author of A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization
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17 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Cristina on October 19, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I like history, and I normally enjoy reading history books. I had to use this as a textbook for my class on China. My huge complaint about the book is the terrible flow of it. The thoughts just seem too scattered, and it gets frustrating, especially when studying. It will talk briefly about, say, Confucianism and filial piety on one page, where it relates to what the passage is talking about.. and then 30 pages later it will mention it again for no reason. It's like the author suddenly remembers random details but is too lazy to go back and edit the information.

It is informative, but often feels sporadic.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By ajoh on January 12, 2012
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When offering criticism one can (a) show off one's own knowledge by accusing an author of failing to cover some aspect, that a closer reading shows they never set out to cover; (b) be spiky and aggressive under the illusion this is being polemical; and (c) try to be objective, which is less entertaining but more generally useful. I shall try to do (c). With some experience in academic reading and none in Chinese history I wanted an up to date introductory overview by an authority on the subject so I could quickly get to grips with the basics. I don't expect an introductory overview to deal in depth with all areas, or follow anything but a general path, trying to precis current knowledge. This book did the job for me and my knowledge and enthusiasm about Chinese history has grown. It was concise and articulated central ideas comfortably and memorably. The unexpected jewel for this novice however is the guide to further reading. It is not a dry list of authors and titles, but a whole after-chapter. It sets out the best available reading in English on the subject and breaks it down into historical periods and general sub-categories within each period eg: politics, social history, intellectual history, cultural history etc. It shows a teacher's instinct to conserve your vital interest by allowing you to keep on the path you are genuinely interested in. I suspect it amounts to a whole first degree reading list. The price to pay is that to get this useful reading guide into the space available the author has had to settle for rather small print for this section of the book. It is a price well worth paying. My only criticism is the book is cumbersome to hold for long periods, and the sooner it is available on Kindle the better.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Larry N. Stout on February 23, 2014
Format: Paperback
Like any attempt at summarizing a vast history in a single volume for a wide audience, the coverage is selective, and, invevitably, the view is through a glass, involving some "darkness" (i.e., obscurity). Not the best of such attempts, in my opinion, but nevertheless scholarly, informative, and interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steven Davis on February 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
The Cambridge Illustrated History of China is a serious work of history, not a "coffee table book." It would be well worth reading even if it contained not a single picture, though the well-chosen photos and maps do enhance the text quite well. The author, Patricia Buckley Ebrey, is an historian specializing in the study of China, and she brings great insight not only to what Chinese history tells us, but how it can be interpreted by Western readers.

The book begins with a brief look at the topography and pre-history of China. Later chapters are organized around the succession of dynasties. Each chapter covers not only the political events of that dynasty, but also the major social and cultural trends. Sidebars go into specific topics such as silk making, painting or literature. The final chapters cover in more detail China's tumultous 20th century, ending with the mid 1990s when the book went to print.

Ebrey's observations on recent Chinese history do not appear to be affected by any particular bias. She offers, for example, several alternative assessments of the legacy of Mao Zedong. In the fascinating epilogue she explains some of the problems in interpreting China's history--and history in general--due to the nature of our sources and our own cultural preconceptions. For Western readers who are accustomed to viewing history as a succession of rises and falls, she suggests Chinese history is better seen as a series of oscillations, yin and yang, representing neither advance nor decline.
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