- Paperback: 335 pages
- Publisher: M. E. Sharpe; 2 edition (November 30, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781563247316
- ISBN-13: 978-1563247316
- ASIN: 1563247313
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,326,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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China: A Macro History (An East Gate Book) 2nd Edition
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Compared to "1587", this book is more ambitious but equally scholarly and insightful. This is not your typical history book. Instead of focusing on who what and when, it asks and answers the question of why. Huang found intrinsic laws in the seemingly random events of Chinese dynastic and modern history. Suddenly, all the things that happened become inevitable, history progresses in its own trajectory regardless of any individual's wishes. He convincingly explored the reasons why Confucius and Mencious philosophy dominated the Chinese society for two thousand years, the impetus to the rise and fall of the three Chinese empires and why capitalism never developed in China till the late 20's century. He urged us not to judge an event or figure by rigid moral standards, but by their effect on the overall (macro) progress of history. For example, instead of tossing labels of "good", "bad", "tyrannical" or "corrupt", he maintained Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong both re-shaped the structure of Chinese society and laid foundation for the amazing transition of China from a three-thousand-year-old agrarian society to a "numerically manageable" modern society in the last 20 years. Huang's book also makes me seriously consider for the first time the possibility that democracy is not a system that works anywhere and anytime. You don't have to agree with everything Huang wrote, but he definitely makes you think.
On a side note, you will get the most out of this book if you already have a good knowledge of Chinese history, and have a chronological table of all the Chinese dynasties and emperors handy.
It is a small and concise history book that's worth reading several times. I do recommend to only read this if you already have some basic idea of Chinese history in terms of major events and phases.
The only grievance I have with the book is that understandably enough Dr. Huang had to skip over a lot of material (or he would risk leaving us with yet another "The Decline and fall of the Roman Empire"); however in doing so he is rarely consistent, e.g. not explaining the elemental precepts of Confucianism, organization of Chinese army and bureaucracy; and fundamental principles behind state examinations. All those, however, can be gotten from other sources, and as such will tempt the reader to explore more.