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The Cambridge Illustrated History of China Paperback – May 13, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0521669917 ISBN-10: 052166991X

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (May 13, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052166991X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521669917
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.9 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #713,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

To compress 8,000 years of a civilization's life into a single volume is a daunting task, but University of Illinois historian Patricia Ebrey does the job with authority and considerable flair. Writing with an eye to explaining recurring themes in Chinese history, she discusses ideas of order and statecraft, resource allocation and use, imperialism and population growth. Along the way she makes interesting asides, noting, among other things, that the Mongol conquerors of China monopolized the bamboo trade because they did not want the ethnic Chinese to make weapons, and she gives stimulating overviews of such matters as the manufacture of silk, hardwood furniture, and ceramics. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Patricia Ebrey's Illustrated History of China is a fine book....With great economy of text, it outlines the major elements and changes in four millennia of Chinese history and social life; the art work and photographs, skillfully chosen and admirably reproduced, both illuminate the text and supplement it." Jonathan Spence, Yale University

"Of all the general histories of China written to date, this book is among the most comprehensive, objective, and well-balanced, and it will surely be a welcome addition to the bookshelves of teachers, students, and anyone else interested in understanding the broader evolution of Chinese civilization." China Review International

"...Patricia Buckley Ebrey masterfully synthesizes more than four thousand years of Chinese history in a single volume....The Cambridge Illustrated History of China provides an excellent introduction to the study of China and Chinese civilization. It offers a straightforward, yet complex account of historical events and issues that is well supported and augmented by the supplementary special-topic sections and illustrations....In the foreword, Kwang-Ching Liu expresses his belief that this book will eventually be regarded as a classic....Professor Liu's confidence in this matter certainly seems justified." China Review International

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Customer Reviews

After you read this book, you will want to board a plane for Xian.
ConsultantsMind
I would strongly recommend this book for anyone who wants to know more about the Chinese history as it's very easy to follow.
Dizziey
Ebrey succeeds in condensing the history of China into a compact and very readable book.
"hodac"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

94 of 96 people found the following review helpful By David Robinson on December 19, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
With more than a billion people and 5,000 years of history, it's not surprising that most books on the History of China cover a brief period in excruciating depth. Patricia Ebrey's book is a deliciously self-aware overview, that delivers just what it promises: It covers all the issues and the illustrations are carefully chosen to amplify the text (not just a bunch of photos bound in the middle of the book). The book is beautifully printed--in China, of course!
Ebrey gets across the important point that we look to China and want a simple, linear summary, when China is complex and decidedely non-linear. (The Cultural Revolution as much happened to Mao as it was caused by him, for example). Moreover, she explains how our Western world view needs to see certain things (we always want the good guys to win in the end--perhaps they won't). This book would be great for a student at any level from High School library on to college. It could be used as a text and I'm also recommending it to US business people working with China. It's a wonderful introduction to the culture. The only quibble is that the Anglo pronunciation of pinyin isn't explained with a reference (for example, Qing Dynasty is pronounced "Ching" but you can't find that here). The pricing is very attractive too.
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 15, 1998
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best books on general history of China I have come across in a long time. With much of academia still using outdated works by Fairbank and Hucker, Patricia Ebrey finally does justice to the tremendous progress the field of sinology has made over the past twenty years by bringing it within reach of the casual reader. This, along with Jacques Gernet's A History of Chinese Civilization and Ray Huang's China: A Macro History, are the three indispensable textbooks for any new student to Chinese history.
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59 of 63 people found the following review helpful By "hodac" on July 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ebrey succeeds in condensing the history of China into a compact and very readable book. It was probably one of the most enjoyable reading I had for a history class. The photographs are gorgeous, and the author really tried to balance social and culture trends with the political events. However, the book fells short when it comes to content. The 600-year period between the fall of Han and the founding of Sui was described in about 3 pages. The enormously important Warring States Period had barely 5 pages of coverage. The depth of content - well, let's just say this is laughable by college standars. Of course, it is impossible to cover over 3000 years of history in this compact book. However, when some of the most influential periods in Chinese history are reduced to bare footnote, perhaps it indicates that the author has been over zealous in trimming her materials.
That being said, this is still a good introduction. If you are clueless about Chinese history, this book serve as a great start. If you know anything more than the fundamentals, however, look elsewhere for information.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Dizziey on August 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
My Professor used this text and I find that it is easy to understand and read. One of the feature of this book is that at the end of every chapter, the author would include her opinions and at the same time, she will relay what happened in Europe or U.S. at that particular time. For instance, in 1700-1800, China was ruled by the last empire- the Manchu and it was also during this time that the Americans gained independence. To me, it's always nice to know what happened during a particular period in the opposite side of the world.
I would strongly recommend this book for anyone who wants to know more about the Chinese history as it's very easy to follow.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Jason W. Atwell on July 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ebrey's "Cambridge Illustrated History of China" is a great textbook for the student or reader desiring only to get a basic overview of chinese history. The book is exceptionally smooth reading and enjoyable, yet it is not exactly suited for students with an existing knowledge of China. The book is greatly complimented by Roberts' "A Concise History of China" which discusses more material into greater fact-packed detail, but not as smooth or enjoyable to read alone.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Li Fei Yue on May 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
I'm a Chinese living in China. Because of politicized history accounts in China after 1949 I have little interest in official history books in Chinese. But I like this book very much; for me it provides a totally new perspective on the evolution of our culture, peoples and economy etc. The rich pictures in the book make reading easier and more interesting.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By petro23 on August 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
As a single volume overview of Chinese history, you couldn't ask for much more than this book. It is clearly written, objective and very readable. The most significant events in Chinese history are all covered (albeit in only superficial depth, necessarily.) The book also tries to describe developments from the perspective of ordinary people, not just the emporers. Cultural and technological advances are covered as well as the major military conquests. Finally, each chapter is concluded with the author's analysis of the period and comparisons to other contemporaneous civilisations.

My only criticism is that the Japanese atrocities during World War II are glossed over, only the Rape of Nanjing is mentioned, and even then, only the lowest bound of the estimated death toll is given. If you read only this book, you might get the impression that the Japanese occupation was a relatively benign experience.

Overall, I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking an introduction to Chinese history.
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