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1. A Short History of Chinese Philosophy
2. The Chinese in America: A Narrative
3. Island: Poetry and History of
4. Chinese Architecture: A Pictorial
5. A Brief History of Chinese and
6. Buddhism in Chinese History
7. A History of Chinese Civilization
8. Unbound Feet: A Social History
9. The Early Chinese Empires: Qin
10. Speaking of Chinese: A Cultural
11. The Columbia History of Chinese
12. A Short History Of The Chinese
13. Sources in Chinese History: Diverse
14. Modern Chinese History Essentials
15. Chop Suey: A Cultural History
16. The Chinese Civil War 1945-49
17. A History of the Modern Chinese
18. Modern Chinese: History and Sociolinguistics
19. Imperial Chinese Military History:
20. Tales from 5000 years of Chinese

1. A Short History of Chinese Philosophy
by Yu-lan Fung
Paperback: 400 Pages (1997-03-01)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$10.94
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0684836343
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
This is a chronicle of Chinese thought from the third millennium sage-kings to the 1911 overthrow of the monarchical system. It focuses particularly on the most commonly known schools of Confucianism and Taoism, with insights into Mohism, "Yin-Yang", Legalism, New-Taoism and Neo-Confucianism. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

1-0 out of 5 stars Wrong book- now asking me to pay for return postage.
So the last contact I got from this seller was an email asking me to return the incorrect book that they sent me.I sent an email asking for a return postage paid envelope and no answer.I've handed over my contact with this seller to Amazon, however I will be filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau of New Jersey.
Summary: the seller is inflexible, non-responsive, non-apologetic and has done nothing to correct their mistake.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fung's classic intro on Chinese philosophy
Fung Yu-lan (or Feng You-Lan) was one of the most important Chinese philosophers and scholars in the 20th century.His most famous accomplishment is the two-volume History of Chinese philosophy, which presents a comprehensive view of Chinese philosophy, the different schools, the trends and development through millennia, and the many historical figures and the schools of thought they each championed.This book here is an abridged version and presents the history of Chinese philosophy in a single, handy volume.Fung's writing is characterized by clarity and lucidity.He explains ideas and theories in simple, straightforward English and gives examples that can be clearly understood by laymen.As a Chinese reader, I actually found this English version more easily accessible than its Chinese version, because the Chinese one contains numerous quotes from ancient scriptures that can be hard to understand without pre-knowledge in ancient Chinese language.Here, all the quotations have been interpreted and rendered in plain English.I found this book highly enlightening and enjoyable.It remains the single best introduction on Chinese philosophy you can find today.It is a book to keep on your shelf and in your mind.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellence in Introducing the Subject
A short version of his longer original work, this is a great book in that it tells the history of Chinese philosophy in a systematic manner.Both fortunately and unfortunately, the content is a lot easier to absorb than any Chinese text on the subject, simply because it is written in an analytical language (English) rather then a poetic and suggestive language (Chinese), (plus reference to western philosophical terms which really helps).Highly recommended for any reader who want an introductory course on the subject.

4-0 out of 5 stars Required reading for school, but suprisingly great!
My teacher chose to use this book as our main textbook for my Asian Philosophy class. I was surprised by how interesting it was, but more so by what an EASY read it was. The author does a fantastic job of organizing the information in a way that is easily understood and intellectually digested.

5-0 out of 5 stars A short but very enlightning history
For the people who want to understand chinese philosophy, it is a positively simple text that allows to pinpoint all the important issues about each person that mattered in History. I recomend it to every student, every person that wants to know about philosopy and even those who are determined to elaborate deeper studies, as a start on the matter. ... Read more

2. The Chinese in America: A Narrative History
by Iris Chang
Paperback: 512 Pages (2004-03-30)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$3.04
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142004170
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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In an epic story that spans 150 years and continues to the present day, Iris Chang tells of a people’s search for a better life—the determination of the Chinese to forge an identity and a destiny in a strange land and, often against great obstacles, to find success. She chronicles the many accomplishments in America of Chinese immigrants and their descendents: building the infrastructure of their adopted country, fighting racist and exclusionary laws, walking the racial tightrope between black and white, contributing to major scientific and technological advances, expanding the literary canon, and influencing the way we think about racial and ethnic groups. Interweaving political, social, economic, and cultural history, as well as the stories of individuals, Chang offers a bracing view not only of what it means to be Chinese American, but also of what it is to be American. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (38)

4-0 out of 5 stars Coming to America
The Chinese in America

"Chinese workers were prevented from immigrating to America by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Its passage was a watershed event in American history. Besides identifying for the first time a specific group of people by name as undesirable for immigration to the United States, the act also marked a fateful departure from the traditional American policy of unrestricted immigration." By William Wei
Professor of History, University of Colorado at Boulder
However, it was not the first, or the last, time that ethnic groups were singled out for ostracism or exclusion.Native Americans were the object of the Indian Removal Act of 1830 which led to the dispersal of the indigenous population throughout the Southwest and set the stage for The Trail of Tears-- the dispersal of the Cherokee Nation.
Andrew Jackson's record regarding Native Americans was horrendous.He led troops against them in both the Creek War and the First Seminole War and during his first administration the Indian Removal Act was passed in 1830 which resulted in the massive relocation of Native Americans.

The Acadians of Canada were expelled, becoming Louisiana's Cajuns, the Inuit people of Canada were given their own homeland, Nunavut, after decades of discrimination, and the Japanese, Irish and hordes of other immigrants faced adversity in assimilating.Today, the Hmong of Laos, El Salvadorans, Mexicans and others join the list.Cuban émigrés from Castro's regime created a vibrant society in Miami and Tampa, Florida.
Russians, Armenians, and Iranians help populate Los Angeles. There is a Southeast Asian community in Portland, Maine--about as far away from Laos or Cambodia as you can get.

Against this background, Iris Chang has produced a memorable narrative history of the Chinese experience in America.Chang, who wrote the best-selling "The Rape of Nanking", committed suicide in 2004. Her writing on the experience of the Chinese Americans from the Gold Rush to the Internet follows in the tradition of Irving Howe's "World of our Fathers";Dee Brown's "Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee", and other histories of American diasporas.
I make it a practice not to read other people's reviews before writing mine. Going back to them now I find some are understandably critical of Chang's emphasis on the worst-case-scenarios.
But she can hardly be blamed for chronicling the overt racism that including blaming Chinese women for spreading syphillis and a "Doctor" for labeling the whole population a vector for disease.On the whole, a constructive view of a bad time in our history.

3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting but fatally flawed
The book is interesting and highly readable.I do not read much nonfiction intended for a mass market, so I found it at times condescending, simplistic, and repetitious, but it is much less so than the "how-to" books I have been given in the past.

The book is written in an engaging style and has numerous interesting and revealing stories.It attempts what few books do, and it is valuable to the casual reader.However, it suffers from a number of flaws.

1)The distortion of facts to prove a point.Chang often makes a big deal out of facts in a way that utterly distorts their meaning.For example, she makes a huge deal out of the fact that the a Chinese worker on the transcontinental railroad was paid less than half what was spent on each horse, apparently in order to point out that mere animals were valued more than people.She entirely ignores the declaration she had made just a few paragraphs back that the white workers were paid half again as much as the Chinese workers--therefore much less than the horses as well!This factoid, thrown in for shock value, is simply silly to anyone with the slightest knowledge of historic economics and particularly the sheer cost of maintaining horses.She makes blunders like this once every ten pages or so, and it leaves me in grave doubt about her overall comprehension of the history she is attempting to explain in the book.

2)The creation of a victimology.She rightly notes patterns of racism and records atrocities committed upon Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans, but she selects among the history of the people in order to form the ideology of a racial victimology without aknowledging, for example, the universality of certain kinds of atrocities (claim-jumping was hardly restricted to whites against Chinese, for example, even if race was part of what a particular group of whites used to justify a particular claim jump) or the commonness of certain patterns of behavior.

3)The confusion of stupidity and racism.Chang routinely identifies all ignorance and stupidity as racism.Sometimes, stupid and ignorant people are racist.Other times, they are merely stupid and ignorant.People ask my husband all the time if he's from "China or Japan"--since he's clearly East Asian, he must be an immigrant, and because those are the only two contries that such people even know about, those are the ones they list.He had also been asked--often!--if his family "eats Chinese all the time--even for breakfast!"These are in line with the questions we get about New Mexico ("Why did you move out of the US?") and that I get about being from Texas ("So do you ride horses everywhere there?Do you have cars?") rather than being fundamentally racist.There's a difference between dumb people and racist people.Chang can't see it.

4)Her deep ignorance about China and universal patterns of immigration.Chang fundamentally does not comprehend the horrific quality of life that drove people from China from the 1800s through the 1980s.Her muddled explanations of reasons for immigration focus mostly upon the exchange rate--but that's only a fraction of the story.And this makes her miss the biggest piece of the Chinese labor puzzle.The reason that the Chinese were willing to undersell so many other immigrant groups in the US (and so a major reason for early resentment) is because the quality of life that they were accustomed to was so horrible that they would unthinkingly accept wages that even people from other poor countries would reject.As a result, poor Chinese drove down labor prices wherever they went.The anti-Chinese feelings on the West Coast were mirrored by anti-Irish feeling on the East Coast and anti-Mexican feeling today.All these groups have embraced, in various points in history, an average quality of life that someone accostomed to the US rejects.Chang also fails to recognize that Chinese immigrants knew intimately about bureaucracies and had usually been treated very badly by their social superiors in China and so were prepared to navigate the legal system with ease while at the same time taking abuse largely in stride.(Watch the fine jockeying for status among supposed equals in China, the extreme focus on class, and the treatment by professionals of people in the service industries!)Chang is a third-generation Chinese American, and it shows badly in her misunderstanding of China and Chinese culture.

5)Her conflation of different groups of ethnically Chinese people living in America into a monolithic body.Chang regularly ignores the extremely important generational issues when discussing the position of Chinese Americans and Chinese immigrants.She flatly does not recognize the great lack of English skills that many of even the very well-educated first-generation immigrants have.She doesn't recognize that many cannot speak or write fluent English after being in the country for decades--not because of unwillingness but because the language is so different from CHinese--nor that many of them do not ever understand American culture.While American students at my university were finding Chinese TAs obnoxious, braggadocious, rude, loud, and untrustworthy, these same TAs were being told by other first-gen Chinese that Americans respect people who brag and who are "clever"--cleverness being what in American eyes is underhanded and sly!The obnoxiousness, loudness, and rudeness (in AMerican eyes) is directly traceable to Mao's rejection of the Four Olds during the Cultural Revolution.Good citizens were supposed to reject all of the behaviors that had been honored in previous generations, including quietness, reserve, good table manners, politeness, etc., etc.Fortunately, China is returning more and more to more ingrained cultural patterns, but the good citizen of the Cultural Revolution is flatly incompatible with American culture.First-gen immigrants are seen as often dressing inappropriately and have culturally "wrong" body language, and they often say--with the best intentions--sentiments deeply offensive to American culture.This enormous cultural clash definitely goes both ways.For example, an American wife's behavior toward a husband or a younger person toward an elder or an American empoyee's behavior toward his boss is downright repulsive in Chinese culture, and Americans' inability to engage in expected complementing behaviors and prentended self-deprecation is seen as blatantly crass.However, the context here isn't cultural Americans trying to "get ahead" in China but of cultural Chinese trying to succeed in the US.There will be very, very few first-generation Chinese immigrants who become upper managers in American firms simply because there are very few who have the cultural awareness and skill and the English language abilities to succeed.What they see as prejudice against their Chinese origins is really, often enough, a rejection of their cultural and linguistic limitations in an American setting.A much, much better study than to lump all Chinese togather would be to see how second and third generation Chinese Americans do compared to average Americans of the same education.Then you would be comparing two culturally American populations!Chang also completely ignores the deep racism of Chinese culture by emphasizing the choice of some Chinese to identify themselves with blacks in Civil Rights issues.To put it succinctly:the Chinese side of our family would be OUTRAGED, and that would be by far the most common reaction of culturally Chinese people to such a suggestion.As a white person, I am tolerated, though a disappointment, and I'm sure the family back in China sighs over the fact that my husband married one of those white devils.If he had tried to marrya black woman, he would have been cut out of the family completely.

Even with these flaws, the story is so lively and the anecdotes so diverse that the book is fully deserving three stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars An American Story
As a naturalized citizen originally from China, I particularly appreciate Chang's closing remarks that hopefully most readers can come to see the stories in The Chinese in America as ultimately stories of Americans. I'd imagine an Irish immigrant 100 years ago, or a Mexican immigrant today, could tell me many parallel stories like those in this book. Would love to read about their storeis too, and hope that one day these are all seen as true American stories as ones about the Plymouth Rock and Lewis and Clark.

By the way, I listened to the audio version. The reading is a bit dry, but good enough.

3-0 out of 5 stars Chang's book a good place to start, but not a rigorous, scholarly account
Iris Chang's narrative history of the Chinese in America is engrossing and involving. It provides a generalized history of China and the Chinese that spans two continents -- by no means an easy feat to do. It is well researched, and has definitely stoked my interest in reading more about Chinese (and Chinese-in-America) history.

My problems with the book, however, lie mainly with her characterization of this text as a "narrative history", and the authorial liberties she takes as a consequence. Clearly, history is a subjective narrative from the get-go, and calling "The Chinese in America" a narrative history gives Chang leeway not otherwise allowed by a more rigorous, scholarly work. While this adds to the readability of the work, it detracts from its credibility.

For one thing, she infuses 21st century moral judgements onto historical occurrences and eras in which it was not even a question. In one instance, she calls Manifest Destiny "arrogant". I'm not arguing that it wasn't, but an outright moral judgement like that does not belong in a work of non-fiction, even if that work is a narrative history. Judgement like that is akin to calling Nazi Germany a period of deranged lunacy. Few would disagree with your assessment, but from a point of historical understanding, its benefits are at best minimal. It's just not good scholarly writing.

Similarly, why should I believe what "one Chinese woman" says from such and such a time, or an oral history as told to so and so who told Chang herself? And what is a floating quotation, supported by no evidence from the author, supposed to tell the reader?

What also bothers me about Chang's book is her use of (for lack of a better term) 'common sense wisdom'. The chapter on the Great Depression opens with a generalized statement about how people in times of trouble tend to turn to groups different from themselves in order to lay blame for all their woes and ills (in this case they turned to the Chinese), and she hearkens it back to caveman tribal instincts. Where is the basis for this anthropological assessment, and why is it applicable here in particular?

To Chang's credit, she was not a scholar at all and to have written the books she did and researched them the way she did without graduate training is an impressive achievement. Also, she was clear from the beginning that this was a narrative history, and not some scholarly work published by Yale or some such other academic institution. I enjoyed this book, and I would definitely recommend it as a starting point to further explorations in Chinese and Chinese American history. All I am saying is that it is by no means a perfect work.

5-0 out of 5 stars Little known history of the Chinese in America

The Chinese are very much in the news.My son is dating a Taiwanese girl and I have been doing some reading about the Chinese.They are a very industrious people. The only thing I ever learned about the chinese in school was that they worked on the first intercontinental railroad but there is a great deal more to their history in the U.S.

Iris Chang is an excellent writer. ... Read more

3. Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940
by Him Mark Lai, Genny Lim, Judy Yung
Paperback: 174 Pages (1999-06)
list price: US$22.50 -- used & new: US$12.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0295971096
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Chinese poems on the wall
This book is an important chapter of American history on Chinese Immigration experience on angel Island 1910-40 afterCongress passed 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, barring immigration based on race.The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake destroyed the records in city hall and many Chinese claimed to be native sons to petition for family members to come over known as "paper son".Angel Island Immigration Station was the facility to process admission by tedious interrogationin fenced barracks.This book collects the 69 poems marked on the walls in bilingual text.
The introduction gave a detail background information so that reader will have a comprehensive understanding of the Chinese in Americain that period, subject to discrimination, abuse and violence.Contrary to Ellis Island where Statue of Liberty welcomes immigrants, Chinese arriving the land of free lost their freedom in Angel Island.Facing uncertainty, many waited anxiously for their luck.It is amazing to see this group of Chinese detainees despised and sanctioned as the coolie class from a great Confucius tradition left their poems on the the wall without riot and violence.These poems expressed their frustration, anger, homesick, complaints and unfair treatment in a creative way.
There are sections on interviews for the recollection of the angel Island experiences by detainees, workers and volunteers.The memories brought a cross section on the life in Angel Island.In economic hard times, politicians looked for scapegoat to blame.Police could check, arrest and deport anyone suspicious of being illegal alien.The 110,000 Chinese refused to carry photo identity cards by launching the largest massive civil disobedience in US historyin 1892.History repeated itself in Arizona in 2010 with same police authority.
Angel Island Immigration Station had the re-opening celebration in 2009.The restored building, the interrogation room with old typewriter and old fashion phone and actor of Katherine Maurer, known as Angel of Angel Island reminded of a bygone era.The poems are visible on the wall.I read in memoryand respect of the unknown artists.The common theme centered on the confinement and bitterness that a weak motherland could not help and protect them.It was their high hope that one day a modern strong and power China will bring them justice.
While many poets expressed their sorrow and sadness especially upon receiving the bad news of deportation, I picked the favorite onethat was to bid farewell to the barrack detainees for a new American life.(P.134 and the Chinese text on front cover)
Detained in this wooden house for several tens of days, it is all because of the Mexican exclusion law which implicates me.It is a pity heroes have no way of exercising their prowess.I can only await the word so that I can snap Zu's whip.
From now on, I am departing far from this building.all of my fellow villagers are rejoicing with me.Don't say that everything within is Western styled.Even if it is built of jade, it has turned into a cage.
This book reminded us this group of able hard workers whose fathers, uncles and cousins came to work in the mines of California gold mountains, in transcontinental railways and in agricultural fields.The detainees condensed their tears and voices on the walls in the barracks in Angel Island.On July 31 2010, there will be a Centennial Celebration on the Station.This group of unknown detainee artists would have a front-row seat, smiling down from heaven that their suffering and sacrifice paid off and their dreams came true.This book in collecting their masterpieces is an honorable tribute memorial.

5-0 out of 5 stars Are You CONCERNED About Immigration?
No immigrant population has ever been treated as shabbily and violently as the Chinese, who began arriving in large numbers during the California Gold Rush and who were recruited in even larger numbers to build transcontinental railroads, build levees in California, and to supplant African-American cotton pickers in Mississippi. The Chinese were brutalized, excluded, mocked, and TAXED! In 1852, a Foreign Miner's Tax, which accounted for more than half of the tax revenue collected in California between 1850 and 1870, was imposed on Chinese miners. Parallel fears fueled the antagonism against the Chinese: first, that they were unassimilable; second, that they would pollute the bloodlines of the Great Race, the Anglo-Saxon stock, which would seem to imply a measure of assimilation, or else outbreed "us". Laws were passed to exclude Chinese women, and then, in 1882, to exclude all immigration from China. Laws continued to severely curtail Chinese immigration until the 1960s, but exclusion was never 100% effective. The principal loohole was the acknowledged human right of Chinese-Americans to bring theirwives and children to "Gold Mountain." The officials charged with overseeing this trickle of migration were invariably convinced that most of it was fraudulent; they were fierce and self-righteous in ferreting out the "paper sons," those illegal immigrants of yesteryear.

From 1910 to 1940, all immigrants arriving in California from China - including many who were en route to Mexico or Cuba - were quarantined in wooden barracks on the hidden side of Angel Island in San Francisco Bay, north of Alcatraz. About 175,000 Chinese, men, women and children, spent from three days to three years in detention on Angel Island, and quite a few of them ended up being shipped home. This book tells the story of that immigration in thirty pages of general history and through interviews with thirty-nine elderly survivors of the Island experience. Pictures of the detention station and its operations are also included, and suggest the bleak, crowded, disrespectful conditions that prevailed.

In 1940, the barracks on Angel Island were closed and abandoned. The buildings remained in disrepair until 1970, by which time Angel Island was a state park. Then the buildings were slated for demolition, but during an inspection, a park ranger, Alexander Weiss, noticed that the walls of the wooden buildings were covered with Chinese characters, carved or inscribed. He notified scholars at San Francisco State University, the inscriptions were photographed and translated, it was confirmed that they were chiefly poems composed in inmates during detention, and the Asian American community of San Francisco bagan to lobby for preservation of the historical site, equivalent to Ellis Island in the memory of European American immigrant descendents.

The station is now a major tourist attraction of the Bay Area, and easily one of the most interesting, to which thousands of visitors travel by ferry. The calligraphic inscriptions are visible, and translations are readily available. Unlike the stereoptype of "coolie" immigrants, the Chinese who cut these characters in the walls were literate representatives of a great civilization, however penniless and friendless they may have been when they arrived in the Land of the Free, only to be imprisoned.

The bulk of this touching book is composed of selected poems, in Chinese and in English translation, from the walls of the Island. Some express desolation:

"Living on Island, away from home elicits a hundred feelings.
My chest is filled with a sadness I cannot bear to explain.
Night and day, I sit passively and listlessly.
Fortunately, I have a novel as my companion."

Some are angry:

"Sadly, I listen to insects and angry surf.
The laws pile layer upon layer; how can I dissipate my hatred?
Drifting in as a traveler, I met with thsi calamity.
It's more miserable than owning only a flute
in the marketplace of Wu."

A few are vengeful:

"I have 10,000 hopes that the revolutionary armies
will complete their victory,
And help make the mining enterprises successful
in the ancestral land.
They will build many battleships and come
to the U.S. territory,
Vowing never to stop till the white men
are completely annihilated."

Of course the battleships never came. Instead there were waves of industrious and civil immigrants, and then further waves of industrial wares which we in America have come to depend on. Have the Chinese terrorized America? Stolen American jobs? Degraded American racial purity? Here in San Francisco, it seems obvious that the Chinese have been among the most valuable and assimilable immigrant populations ever. Their crime rate and public assistance rate are extremely low, and their employment rate is unmatched by any European American group. They've excelled in our public schools, raising the standards of performance for "white" students by their example of seriousness. They exceed the averages of European Americans in education, income, and marital stability. Their consumption of illegal drugs is far lower than that of white suburbanites. They are a major component of the thriving multi-culturalism that makes San Francisco the most desirable place to live in all the United States, as proven by housing prices.

America was built by immigrants, and then rebuilt again and again by later waves of immigrants, each time a richer and stronger culture. Those who blame problems on recent immigrants are wrong; they themselves are the problem.

5-0 out of 5 stars sadness spoken from the walls
This is a collection of poetry salvaged from the walls of the barracks on Angel Island, where Chinese immigrants were detained between 1910 and 1940.Poems are in both English and Chinese.In addition to the poems, the editors provide an introduction to early Chinese immigration, and there areseveral pages of quotes from various immigrants, on various subjects suchas the voyage to America and their impressions of Westerners.The poetryspeaks for itself -- poems of desperation, despair, homesickness, andanger.This is a wonderful collection. ... Read more

4. Chinese Architecture: A Pictorial History (Dover Books on Architecture)
by Liang Ssu-ch'eng
Paperback: 232 Pages (2005-03-24)
list price: US$26.95 -- used & new: US$15.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0486439992
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description

More than 240 rare photographs and drawings highlight this excellent pictorial record and analysis of Chinese architectural history. Based on years of unprecedented field studies by the author, the illustrations depict many of the temples, pagodas, tombs, bridges, and imperial palaces comprising China's architectural heritage. 152 halftones, 94 diagrams.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars Amazing drawings, good history, but needs to be updated
A large amount of scholarship, care and skill were put into writing this book. The detailed drawings reveal the structure of Chinese architecture (religious and monumental architecture, not commercial or domestic). The drawings are worth the price of the book, while the writing gets a bit boring. But, and this would entail changing the author's book drastically, it needs updating or overhauling--since the book was written 60-70 years ago (with a modern day foreward). It needs to go from Wade-Giles into the pinyin romanization of Chinese characters, and also needs a map or two highlighting where the structures are in China. A better book would be one that keeps his drawings, but uses his writing as source materials and then rewrites it to put things into a better context and flow.

5-0 out of 5 stars This was the pioneer
Liang Sicheng is among one of the most outstanding Chinese scholars that I admire and respect deeply. As a young man,the beauty of Chinese architecture inspired him to be the first person who studied traditional Chinese architecture scientifically with western methods.After Liang graduated from U.Penn., he moved to Harvard and registered under Graduate School of Art& Science, where he chose the subject "Chinses Architecture". Because there had almost no references in the area, he promised his professor that he will back to China to collect first hand data, and than back to US to finish his study.
The rest of his story is unbelievably dramatic.( You can find more details in <> by Wilma Fairbank)

I am very glad for the reprint of this cheaper edition, this is the book that every historian of Chinese architecture should have.Highly recommended to Chinese historians as well as architecture lover. ... Read more

5. A Brief History of Chinese and Japanese Civilizations
by Conrad Schirokauer, Miranda Brown, David Lurie, Suzanne Gay
Paperback: 736 Pages (2006-12-18)
list price: US$113.95 -- used & new: US$69.07
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0618914943
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
This compelling text explores the development of China and Japan through their art, religion, literature, and thought as well as through their economic, political, and social history. This author team combines strong research with extensive classroom teaching experience to offer a clear, consistent, and highly readable text that is accessible to students with no previous knowledge of the history of East Asia. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

1-0 out of 5 stars Returned
I sent this back according to the directions and that was 3 or more weeks ago, and i haven't seen any change in my bank account or any notice of return.I would appreciate this company doing it job as promised.

1-0 out of 5 stars A Poorly Written "Introduction" to Chinese and Japanese Civilization
This book was absolutely atrocious. It was poorly written and didn't touch on one idea long enough for the reader to get a clear idea of what the author was attempting to get across. I understand that it is a "brief introduction" but that is no reason to be sketchy and incomprehensible on the majority of the subject matter presented in the text. At certain points I had to re-read some paragraphs because I felt like they were written in Haiku or some form of code. From my viewpoint it was like the author was attempting to tackle to many subjects at once, and because of this, wasn't able to expand fully enough on any of them. I also agree with the previous comments, there were multiple grammar errors and spelling issues that shouldn't have been present in a 3rd edition.

2-0 out of 5 stars A poorly written text
The third edition of "A brief history of Chinese and Japanese civilizations" is, beyond doubt, one of the worst textbooks I have had the misfortune of having to use. The only good thing I can say about this book is that it does cover, more-or-less accurately, the general history of China and Japan (the only reason I can give this text 2 stars). Though it, technically, fulfills its goals, this text is atrocious. Aside from frequent grammatical mistakes, the book is poorly written in the extreme. The book is difficult, at best, to get through, with frequently incomplete thoughts and ideas, and bizarrely contrasting vocabulary. There are also several spots where, as you read along, you turn a page and the next page repeats the last several lines, or, even, continues in the middle of an entirely different sentence of an entirely separate idea. No joke.

To be fair, there are many nice pictures.

If you are a professor looking for a class textbook I strongly encourage you to find something else. If you are a student getting a required book, I pity you.

2-0 out of 5 stars Poor quality
I'm a college student majoring in East Asian Studies. This book is required for the intro course, and I hate it. Even ignoring the folly of trying to teach two of the world's oldest civilizations in one slim volume, I still can't recommend this title. It's poorly written (the number of typos and grammatical mistakes are atrocious, especially for a 3rd edition) and the tone is too "dumbed-down" for my taste. Worst of all, the writers did a terrible job in selecting what should be included in a one-volume history of China and Japan. They jump around from topic to topic in an attempt to cover as much material as possible, but they end up sounding indecisive. At the same time, too much of the book is focused on historical anecdotes and art of the period- which is interesting, but not appropriate to a one-volume history of two vast civilizations. The book might succeed if the prose could be polished and better material selected. As of now, I hate having to read something that reads like a long report slapped together by a couple high school kids. I can't wait to sell this back.

5-0 out of 5 stars A very thorough survey of Chinese and Japanese history
This book was specifically recommened to me by a Professor at the University of Texas as a fantastic "starter" on Chinese history. A fantastic read, this college text introduces the reader to Asian civilization in a way that provides information on both the history of Japan and China, as well as a very in-depth look at the cultures which grew out of this history. As Dr. Shirokauer clearly states in his introduction, this book serves as a survey in order to give the reader a general idea on the key aspects (both historically and culturally) of both the Japenese and Chinese civilizations. Weighing in at around 650 pages, this book is a massive undertaking in historical scholarship and provides a fantastic opportunity for the reader to gain a full understanding of Asia, while still leaving the reader thirsty for more at the end. Luckily, a thorough explanations of sources and a very large additional reading section provide avenues for those interested in Asian history to pursue specific topics.

For China, this story focuses around the various dynasties which ruled that country for so long. Beginning with the most early archealogical findings available for China and continuining through the Zhou, Song, Tang, Ming, etc... For Japan, the focus centers around the central administration of Kyoto until the creation of the Shogun and the rise in prominence of Edo (located at present-day Tokyo).

One aspect of this work which so distinguishes it from other college texts on these civilizations is it's focus on the cultural aspects of these two civilizations. The author covers the evolution of art in all forms, everyday living, architecture, and religion in as detailed a fashion as he explains their history. In this way, the reader is able to see a very detailed cultural progression that stands out due to the fact that most history books only pay minor lip service to the importance of culture in a society.

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about a part of the world that is quickly catching up with it's Western neighbors. As countries like China and Korea begin to frequent more and more national headlines, it is important to understand the key aspects which differentiate it from the West. Not only will this knowledge better inform you of how these people live, but it will provide you with a historical perspective that explains how they got there in the first place.
... Read more

6. Buddhism in Chinese History
by Arthur Wright
Paperback: 184 Pages (1959-06-01)
list price: US$20.95 -- used & new: US$12.15
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0804705488
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Required Reading at Hong Kong University
This is one of the books on the required reading list for our course at Hong Kong University on Chinese Buddhism and I would like to strongly recommend this book as a very good short introduction to the topic. The course I am taking has the distinction of being taught in both English and Chinese with reams of reading in both languages. Having read the book and much of the supplementary reading, I have to say how well this book has held up in light of the latest findings with regards to its broad arguments especially for the early chapters, despite having been written in 1959. The chapter setting out the background for early Buddhism is especially good at setting out the background of the Han Dynasty and the role of Confucianism and Taoism.

The other strength of the book is that the style is elegant and punchy (perhaps because they were originally designed as lectures) as opposed to the bland uniform academic analysis that characterizes so many books nowadays and the over proliferation of footnotes. Reading some of the modern papers makes my head spin with the hundreds of names of monks and monasteries and references, such that the key arguments and trends are sometimes lost in the detail. I do miss the days when style was just as important as content and I value this as a teaching tool in improving my own writing.

On the flip side, for a modern reader, there are references to thinkers and historians who are no longer in vogue, such as Toynbee, Satre and Maspero, and he makes pointed comparisons to the role of Christianity in Rome, but if you have an acquaintance with their work and of Roman history, these references are very illuminating and helps one look at the history from another aspect.

I have to agree that the part on Modern China is dated, but that is the danger of most books which deal with modern China and really if we are looking at Chinese Buddhism the key developments happened much much earlier so this is not a big loss. There are so many books now that seek to explain the megatrends of China that date in one or two years. This book has at least stood the test of half a century.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good overview
This little book provides a good overview of, as the title suggests, Buddhism in China. It delves into relevant and fascinating exploration of how Buddhism changed in its adoption of Chinese culture and values. Where this book really shines is the section on neo-Confucianism, and how the two blended together.

Good, insightful read. Perfectly fine for someone not too familiar with the topic (such as myself.) 4 stars for the plates not being all that well explained, as the book fails to explain the changes in the Buddhist art that it has pictures of.

2-0 out of 5 stars just o.k.
I cannot see this book as a satisfactory survey of Buddhism in China. First off, it's very vague. Often the author makes sweeping comments about Chinese culture, the role of Buddhism, Confucianism etc. without adequately backing them up with information. Secondly, it's dated: the copyright of 1959 says it all. In fact, about half of the sources cited are French books and articles written on China in the '50s. The last chapter on Modern China is especially anachronistic, where the author posits the impossibility of a Buddhist revival in China (p. 122), something, I would think be proven wrong by today's developments, though he can't be blamed specifically for that. In conclusion, an o.k. general introduction, but not for in-depth study.

5-0 out of 5 stars prescient and relevant
one might wonder what relevance a book written in the late fifties could possibly have to the China of today. then, communism was consolidating its grip on the country, today it seems to be losing it.
in fact, Wright points to similarities between the Buddhist and Marxist influence. he cites the Chinese willingness to give enthusiastic support to an idea which suggests that we look carefully at the ideology developing in China today. he debunks the notion that China merely absorbs outside influences by pointing to the incredible changes that Buddhism affected in China. perhaps most importantly, he reminds us that periods of disruption have been the time when the Chinese have seemed most responsive to alien ideas. Read Wright and stay tuned.

Lynn Hoffman, author of The New Short Course in Wine

4-0 out of 5 stars The importance of Buddhism in understanding Chinese culture
"Buddhism in Chinese History" is a collection of six lectures presented at the University of Chicago by Arthur F. Wright in the late 1950's.Wright offers up an attempt at reflective interpretation of the study of Chinese Buddhism, which explains how Buddhism played an important role in reducing the cultural and institutional differences that existed in China during the 6th century A.D. and laid the foundations for the unified, and eventually Confucian, society that would ultimately exist.Wright's analysis extends all the way from the Han China of 206 B.C. to the Modern Era, where Buddhism continues to have strong influences in China.Specifically, Wright looks at elements of thought, language and culture that have been so completely appropriated that their origins have been essentially forgotten.Indeed, you can imagine what position the Chinese Communist government would have on Wright's views, especially given Wright's claim that there is a self-conscious effort by the Chinese to identify, reinterpret and use elements of the country's Buddhist heritage to solve the problems China's traditional civilization faces when confronted with the dominating forces of the West.Whether you come to this volume because of an interest in the religion of Buddhism or the cultural history of China, you will certainly find Wright's arguments to be of interest. ... Read more

7. A History of Chinese Civilization
by Jacques Gernet
Paperback: 780 Pages (1996-05-31)
list price: US$43.00 -- used & new: US$32.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0521497817
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
When published in 1982, this translation of Professor Jacques Gernet's masterly survey of the history and culture of China was immediately welcomed by critics and readers.This revised and updated edition includes a detailed chronology that has been updated through 1993, a new bibliography, and an expanded index that includes Chinese characters. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Transaction
This transaction saved me $$, as this college school book was needed quickly for summer school. Received promptly and well packaged. A pleasant buying experience. I would recommend this seller.

5-0 out of 5 stars Question about editions
Is anyone familiar with the difference between the 1982 edition and the newer revised edition?I know the transliteration has been updated to pinyin, and that there is a longer bibliography, but have there been any substantive changes in the translation of the text?

4-0 out of 5 stars An important book for understandingmodern China
My main interest in history is to understand the development of civilization from earliest times, and since I had been concentrating mainly on the Middle East and Egypt, I realized I had to know more about the eastern civilizations of India and China.After rereading China's Imperial Past by Charles O Hucker(ISBN 0804708878 which was published in 1975), I searched for later books on the same subject, which would hopefully provide more details about the development of Chinese civilization.I liked the reviews of this book, andso I purchased it.

Professor Gernet certainly provides a very detailed review of Chinese civilizationfrom earliest times to the present day, with ahelpful introductory chapter, many useful maps and summary tables, a long Chronological table, many interesting plates and photographs, andan extensive bibliography and index, all of which I found to be essential for obtaining an understanding of what I was reading.This 800 page book is in 11 parts chronologically arranged by dynasty and comprises32 chapters in all.

I found one of the most enjoyable features of the book to beProfessor Gernet's admiration for of the achievements of the people of China over the past 2000 years,and in particular, his description of the continuity andimprovements which have occurred to political administration, technological developments, and political and philosophical thought despite the many political upheavals and diverse origins of successive dynasties.What I also found very appealingwere his deep sympathies to their enormous sufferings particularly in the last 150 years

This book generally covers the same topics as Professor Hucker's book does for the period up to 1850 and they are usually quite consistent in their descriptions of events.While both books are strong on the subjects of literature, philosophy and art, I found that Professor Gernet was the better on the subjects ofsocial and economic development and that Professor Hucker was much easier to follow on the essential threads of political history, even though Professor Gernet provides rather more detail.However, whereas Professor Hucker ends his book in 1850, Professor Gernet devotes the final chapters of his book (150 pages)to the consequences of the economic and social decline of China from 1800 onwards, which resulted in the massive rebellions of the period 1850-1875, the takeover of China by the nations of the West andJapan, and the establishment of the People's Republic of China

While this was not a reason I purchased this book, I did find it particularly helpful in understanding the reason for the success of Chinese Communist Party in founding the People's Republic of China.The final chapter of the book which summarizes the main events of the period up to 1992, went a very long way in helping me understand the behaviour and logic of the leaders of the PRC, and the book as a whole clearly demonstrated to me that a good knowledge of the past history of a country is essential in understanding its attitude and behaviour in modern times.

Due to the sparseness of available records and publication ofarchaeological data the coverage of the very early period to the end of the Warring States period was disappointingly brief.But the level of detail certainly picks up from the time of the formation of the first centralized state in 221BC. The most interesting sections for me were those covering the events of the T'ang, the Sung, and the Manchu dynasties and I now have a much better understanding of the involvement of China's rulers with Central and South East Asia, Korea and Japan. I was, however, disappointed in the section on the Yüan (Mongol) dynasty and had to supplement my reading of this period with the book on the Mongol invasion of Europe by James Chambers, and what I could find on the Internet

I have to say that I found this book very difficult to follow at times, not just because of the multitude of unfamiliar places, large number of people, and events, butbecause the book was organized by subject matter rather than chronologicalorder. I also got the distinct impression that some parts of the bookhad been rather hurriedly put together from a collection of notes which were not always consistent in the dates or particular order of significant events.Onmany occasions I became confused as to what was the cause and what was the effect!As a result, I found it necessary to make extensive notes on people, places, events, and philosophical thought in order to fully understand what I was reading.Consequently it took me all of9 months to complete the reading of the book which was considerably longer than I had planned.

But and notwithstanding my personal disappointmentsit was certainly it worth the effort.While I found it to be harder to read than Professor Hucker's book I found it to have significantly additional information onChina, and the extensive bibliography will be very useful for my continuing studies on the Bronze Age civilizations of China and Central Asia I am glad I persevered to the end, andI do recommend it to other readers.

3-0 out of 5 stars A decent reference, but could be stylistically better
Contentwise, you might want to read other reviews of this book. As for me, allow me to explain my rather sub-par score...

I am currently taking a course that uses this book as a reference book (although we've never referred to it in class). I've been interested in Ancient Chinese culture because a large part of my knowledge comes from Kung Fu movies, a troubling notion that I felt had to be fixed. Essentially, I've never studied Chinese history from before the cultural revolution.

That being said, I'm sure Gernet is a wonderul writer, but the translators need to be dragged out into the street and forced to read its sentences out loud. To beat poets.

An example- this is one sentence:

"The developement of infantry units from the sixth century B.C on wards- in Chin at the time of the battles in the mountainous country against the tribs of Shansi, and probably also in Wu and Yueh, where the terrain was scarecely any more suitable for chariots because of the lakes and numerous watercourses- down to the huge armies of foot-soldiers of the third century was to have very important consequences, and one may say that the advent of the centralized state was closely linked to this change in the technique of warfare."

I had to stare at this sentence for all of about 3 minutes before I could break it down and understand what it was trying to say:

[2009 edit]
I've matured and since grown older and fatter, so now I can read the sentence for what it's worth. I retrospect, it was a bad example of confusion, but a good example of a compound sentence. Lop it into two sentences or something, maybe a picture of a chariot soldier saying " screw it, this hizzle is too hilly for my nizzle" for my fellow laymen.

Techniques in warfare were favoring foot soldier use because of the development of a central state and because of the varied terrain in China. These changes would have very large consquences in the third century.

In a sense, the book is just a tad hard to read because of awkard sentence structures. And believe me, when you encounter these sentences for 600+ pages, it gets old fast.

Give me history in a clear, concise book, or give me french!

That's just my 2 cents.

4-0 out of 5 stars Has its strengths and weaknesses, but look at the price!
If you compare this book to its obvious competitors (e.g. Valerie Hansen's Open Empire, Schirokauer's Brief History of Chinese Civilization), you have to be amazed at the relatively low list price--especially considering that the publisher, Cambridge University Press, is not famous for selling cheap books.If you can buy only one textbook history of China, this one is worth considering for that reason alone.

Students tend to have the same complaints about Gernet's book year after year (I've used this book many times in an undergraduate survey of Chinese history): it is too long and confusing, without emphasizing what is "important" and what isn't.Other reviewers on this page have similar concerns: the book isn't organized emperor-by-emperor; rather, it tends to focus topically on themes that cover several emperors' reigns, sometimes whole centuries.But weigh that against the major criticism of the book by professional historians, who argue, on the contrary, that the book is arranged only too rigidly according to a periodization imposed from Western history (ancient, medieval, modern, etc.).There isn't enough space here to get involved in these theoretical issues, but it should be clear that Gernet is to be lauded, not derided, for his courage to depart from the old fashioned year-by-year, emperor-by-emperor approach.

This is especially evident in his section on the Six Dynasties (or Northern and Southern Dynasties), which is probably the best succinct account of the period in any Western language.Instead of tediously relating events and dates for this chaotic period, Gernet reveals the underlying socioeconomic forces that dictated the pattern of history in the north and south over the course of this long and complex period.(He happens to be one of the foremost economic historians of China, and is clearly in his element with this kind of historiography.)I believe readers come away with a richer understanding of the Six Dynasties because of Gernet's focus.

Finally, the complaints about Wade-Giles Romanization are unfair and uninformed.When this book first appeared, before the Library of Congress and other major libraries switched to Pinyin, virtually all Chinese books were catalogued according to Wade-Giles, so it made much more sense to write a textbook using that Romanization system than Pinyin.Today, of course, Pinyin would be preferable.But it's not the case that Pinyin is more precise.Both are acceptable Romanization schemes for Mandarin Chinese, and both--assuming one has mastered the principles--indicate the correct sounds efficiently and unambiguously.Criticizing a book about China on the basis of its Romanization system is a bit like judging a book by its cover. ... Read more

8. Unbound Feet: A Social History of Chinese Women in San Francisco
by Judy Yung
Paperback: 395 Pages (1995-11-15)
list price: US$27.95 -- used & new: US$15.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0520088670
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The crippling custom of footbinding is the thematic touchstone for Judy Yung's engrossing study of Chinese American women during the first half of the twentieth century. Using this symbol of subjugation to examine social change in the lives of these women, she shows the stages of "unbinding" that occurred in the decades between the turn of the century and the end of World War II.The setting for this captivating history is San Francisco, which had the largest Chinese population in the United States. Yung, a second-generation Chinese American born and raised in San Francisco, uses an impressive range of sources to tell her story. Oral history interviews, previously unknown autobiographies, both English- and Chinese-language newspapers, government census records, and exceptional photographs from public archives and private collections combine to make this a richly human document as well as an illuminating treatise on race, gender, and class dynamics.While presenting larger social trends Yung highlights the many individual experiences of Chinese American women, and her skill as an oral history interviewer gives this work an immediacy that is poignant and effective. Her analysis of intraethnic class riftsa major gap in ethnic historysheds important light on the difficulties that Chinese American women faced in their own communities. Yung provides a more accurate view of their lives than has existed before, revealing the many ways that these womenrather than being passive victims of oppressionwere active agents in the making of their own history. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good information
The book provides good information with a huge bibliography. It's very complete, and factual. The writing is good and provides a great overview with real quotes from real women of the time.

4-0 out of 5 stars Impressive Addition to Chinese American Woman's History
Through Unbound Feet, Judy Yung explores the history of Chinese American women in San Francisco from the turn of the century to the Second World War using the Chinese custom of footbinding and the gradual steps away from this tradition as an outline for her narrative. She traces the growth and changes of women through their immigration, experiences and lives in America. By the completion of the book, Yung has concluded that the experiences of Chinese women "have been as much in response to economic, social, and political developments in China as in the United States" (5).

Moving through history from "bound feet" to "in step," Chinese American women gained a new sense of independence not before known to Chinese women. Yung attributes the many changes these women underwent to Christianity, Chinese nationalism, and acculturation to American culture. With bound feet, women were not able to exercise of control over their lives. They lived their lives in seclusion; unable to walk away from the restrictions placed on Chinese women. Yung asserts that by the time of World War II, women had not only managed to walk away, but they had also managed to establish a new way of life that was acceptable for Chinese women. Yung claims that this role more accurately reflected the lives and roles of American women, rather than the traditional role ascribed to women in the Chinese nation.

Yung, perhaps inadvertently, shows how Chinese women used the American culture to further expand their roles within their own culture. The scenario presented by Yung is, once in America, Chinese women were introduced to the applied gender roles of women in a different country. In America, women may not have enjoyed anything close to equal rights, but they were allotted many more rights than women in China. Considering women in China were praised for ignorance, the differences between the cultures is not hard to imagine. However, Chinese women were patriotic to their country, as Yung proves, and while they were assimilating many aspects of American culture, they also held onto much of the culture from their home country. Yung shows how in America, Chinese women adopted certain aspects of American culture without fully accepting it and retaining many traditional gender roles.

Yung uses firsthand sources for examples such as letters, newspapers, interviews, and government data. The writer herself admits that this information she presents is more biased toward "experiences of educated, middle-class women" (9). Therefore, her study cannot fully represent the history of Chinese American women, but being one of the few investigations on the subject, it does provide important knowledge not otherwise presented. Obviously Yung's study of San Francisco women is not a fair representation of all Chinese women. Yung explains her decision to concentrate on this city because "it has served as the port of entry for most Chinese immigrants throughout their history" (8).

Being a second-generation Chinese American woman, it is possible that Yung uses Unbound Feet as an attempt to somewhat glorify the history of Chinese American women. Undoubtedly Yung provides an accurate description, but is it possible that the purpose of her narrative is not to merely provide a history, but also to provide an impressive history? Many aspects of Unbound Feet, after all, depict her own personal family history, providing stories of earlier women in her family. It is understandable for Yung to want to invoke honor in her heritage and culture.

Yung presents a historical explanation to the present culture of Chinese American women. With her many examples, Yung follows Chinese American women through five decades of history. Throughout this time, numerous changes occurred in these women. Speaking from a personal viewpoint, Yung concludes, "Consciously aware of how race, class, and gender intersect our lives, we follow in our mothers' footsteps, doing what we can to improve the overall quality of life for ourselves, for our children, and for all" (292). From this conclusion, Yung asserts her belief that modern Chinese American women must learn from the women who came before them.

5-0 out of 5 stars History of Chinese American women
Judy Yung traces the social history of Chinese American women from 19th century to post World War II, how events and circumstances shape the women to be who they are today. She talks about the changing roles that these women played, from 19th century, when women played limited roles in society, how they were still influenced by traditional Chinese values to post war where they participated in the war effort, gained independence and had an active role in the society.

The main theme of this book is the discrimination they faced being Chinese and women. It is astounding to see how far they have come, from the days when Chinese school children were being called "Chinks" and were excluded from the mainstream society because of their gender and race.

This book would definitely appeal to those who come from minority communities and to those who are interested in ethnic, women or immigration history. I definitely recommend this book as it deals with issues that have so far been ignored in our textbooks, but definitely played a major role in shaping our society today.

4-0 out of 5 stars Educational AND Fun!
At first the size of the book was a bit daunting, but I found myself sucked into the lives of the Chinese women as they navigated through American society.I also appreciated Ms. Yung's use of her own family to weave the history of Chinese women in America.I look forward to checkingout Unbound Voices as well. ... Read more

9. The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han (History of Imperial China)
by Mark Edward Lewis
Hardcover: 336 Pages (2007-04-20)
list price: US$32.50 -- used & new: US$20.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 067402477X
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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In 221 bc the First Emperor of Qin unified the lands that would become the heart of a Chinese empire. Though forged by conquest, this vast domain depended for its political survival on a fundamental reshaping of Chinese culture. With this informative book, we are present at the creation of an ancient imperial order whose major features would endure for two millennia.

The Qin and Han constitute the "classical period" of Chinese history--a role played by the Greeks and Romans in the West. Mark Edward Lewis highlights the key challenges faced by the court officials and scholars who set about governing an empire of such scale and diversity of peoples. He traces the drastic measures taken to transcend, without eliminating, these regional differences: the invention of the emperor as the divine embodiment of the state; the establishment of a common script for communication and a state-sponsored canon for the propagation of Confucian ideals; the flourishing of the great families, whose domination of local society rested on wealth, landholding, and elaborate kinship structures; the demilitarization of the interior; and the impact of non-Chinese warrior-nomads in setting the boundaries of an emerging Chinese identity.

The first of a six-volume series on the history of imperial China, The Early Chinese Empires illuminates many formative events in China's long history of imperialism--events whose residual influence can still be discerned today.

(20070401) ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

2-0 out of 5 stars Good Information, Bad Organization
Mark Lewis is to chronology what P. Diddy is to the English language.

I was assigned this book for an upper division history course.The book is densely packed with important information about the Qin and Han period, but the information is so scattered that it becomes a frustrating reference tool even with a perfectly good index.Each chapter covers a different topic as it relates to the overall time period, such as geography or rural life.This seems like it could work, but Lewis jumps back and forth even within each chapter.If you want an organized reference, use a different source if possible.If you want to construct a sense of chronology or even a timeline of events, you're better off using the internet.

This book may be acceptable if you're just looking for a bunch of streaming, disorganized information about the Qin and Han.But if you want a well-ordered book with even a modest sense of chronology, don't get this book or the others in the series, at least one of which has the exact same problem.

4-0 out of 5 stars early empires
Thís is the first volume of a series of six books on the history of imperial China, each dealing with a defined period and/or specific dynasty(ies). The first three volumes have been written by Mark Edward Lewis (see also China Between Empires: The Northern and Southern Dynasties (History of Imperial China) and China's Cosmopolitan Empire: The Tang Dynasty (History of Imperial China)). In the present book, the author divided his portrayal of the first two 'modern' Chinese dynasties (including the process towards unification during the warring states period) into ten chapters. After giving an outline on the geographical features of the two dynasties, the author explains the organization of state, urban and rural society, gives an account of China's relationship with its (northern) neighbours, and tells about social and cultural issues such as religion, family kinship, literature and law. In each of these chapters, Lewis gives a more or less chronological account of the development of the concerned topic from the late warring states period to the end of the Han Dynasty. The book furthermore shows how the basis for the later imperial history of China was formed during this period. For a rather specialized work of this kind, I personally think that the author has suceeded in writing a pretty readable book, which is understandable with even limited previous knowledge of early Chinese history (the chronology at the end is of help, anyway). (See also: The Age of Confucian Rule: The Song Transformation of China (History of Imperial China), Troubled Empire: China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties: 5 (History of Imperial China) and China's Last Empire: The Great Qing (History of Imperial China))

4-0 out of 5 stars An Exceptional Introduction to Classical China, Best Taken With a Grain of Salt
THE EARLY CHINESE EMPIRES: QIN AND HAN is a book that is rather hard to review. It is not, as its title may suggest, a standard chronological history of classical China. While one will have a fair picture of the period's chronology after reading this book, providing such is not Lewis' goal. His intent is quite a bit more ambitious than this: THE EARLY CHINESE EMPIRES attempts to sketch the forces that created, sustained, and then destroyed the Qin and Han dynasties. Lewis leaves few subjects untouched in this synthesis of the classical Chinese system; foreign contacts, legal codes, state religion, and family structure are all broached upon in Lewis' effort to explain the structure of the classic Chinese empires.

There are weaknesses to this approach. While written in an engaging style easily accessible to those not living in ivory towers, those completely unfamiliar with China's classical and ancient history may have a rough time with this work. Sadly, there are few resources available to help the uninitiated - the excellent THE CAMBRIDGE HISTORY OF CHINA Vol. 1 is prohibitory expensive, and most of the older works on the subject (such as Michele Pirazzoli-T'Sersteven's THE HAN DYNASTY) are outdated and difficult to find.

(I have been told that the Greenwood Guide to the Han Dynasty works well enough for this purpose, but I have not read it myself.)

The dearth of Western scholarship on classical Chinese history poses another problem for readers. Stylistically, THE EARLY CHINESE EMPIRES is most similar to Peter Heather's THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE or Adrian Goldworthy's HOW ROME FELL - that is to say, large books that mine archeological sites and historical records in the service of a specific and controversial thesis explaining one of history's great events. In Lewis' case, the event is not the fall of the Roman Empire, but the establishment, expansion, and subsequent collapse of the Han dynasty. There is nothing inherently wrong with such books. Indeed, these tend to be the most interesting and important type of book a historian can write. However, one must be wary when approaching such a work. It must always be remembered that these types of histories are not surveys, but arguments - explanations and that may or may not be correct, one interpretation among many.* When studying Roman history this is easy to remember; there are half a dozen books attempting to explain a given event in the empire's history, and there are a great multitude of surveys, specialized studies, and translated primary sources one can turn to verify a given historian's argument. In sharp contrast, there are few English language works on classical China of any type, with the few that do exist being quite pricey. THE EARLY CHINESE EMPIRES is all the general reader has. Of course, it is unjust to blame this lack of published work on Lewis, and I do not mean to suggest as much. However, Lewis rarely stops to acknowledge or explain with any depth alternative theories to the ones he has proposed. The wise reader will keep this in mind as he reads, taking Lewis' conclusions with deserved grain of salt because of it.

One can boil down Lewis' conclusions to five main points, the critical transformations that occurred during the Qin and Han Empires. In essence, the defining features and trends of the entire classical period. These are:

1) The diversity of the early Chinese empires. The Qin brought about the first true unification of China, but (as Lewis is quick to stress) this unification was mostly political and intellectual in nature. Economic and cultural regionalism remained a constant throughout the classical period. This led to an odd contradiction that would in many ways bring down the Qin and the Former Han dynasties - the establishment of a supposed "universal, superior culture at the imperial center" in sharp opposition to a backward, "limited, particular culture of regions and localities" (2).

2) The invention and elevation of the emperor above the rest of Chinese society. Before Shi Huangdi the ruler of the Qin was simply a king among kings; after him (and just as importantly, Han Gaozu) the emperor became a deity, "not merely the supreme ruler, chief judge, and high priest, but the embodiment of the political realm" (2). Sovereignty became embedded in the person of the emperor. This fiction would influence the course of Chinese history long after the emperor ceased to wield real power; even when the imperial bureaucracy had melted away into nothingness the emperor-child remained the only way for strongmen and warlords to gain the political legitimacy needed to attract the people to their cause.

3) The creation of a universal script, language, and state-sanctioning literary canon. Before the Classical period the Chinese elite and intelligentsia were divided among half a dozen languages, writing systems, and schools of philosophy. Unification changed this, forcing all who wished to work for the empire to adopt a new tongue and writing system. Just as significant is the literary and philosophical canon that grew up around this new structure. In essence, the new written language and the works composed in it tied those aspiring to state office (mostly members of the important great families) to the imperial court and its rule.

4) The demilitarization of the Chinese peasantry and interior, and the delegation of military affairs to the margins of society - mercenaries, nomads, and prisoners living on the edge of the empire. The change from universal conscription of the peasantry to the sole use of professional troops had many causes, but Lewis focuses on two in particular: the transformation of China from a multi-state system composed of kingdoms engaged in a constant state of conquest and war to a unified empire whose greatest threats were nomadic enemies on the frontier, and developments in technology and tactics (particularly the move towards cavalry-centric armies) that favoredlong-term hires over citizen draftees.

5) The development of a elite upper class that maintained its elect position through a combination of trade, pursuit of political office, the establishment of expansive kinship networks, andlarge scale landholding.This development is charted from the early days of the Qin Empire, where Legalist policies had completely atomized Chinese society into nuclear families serving the state, to the collapse of the Han Dynasty, where the largest and most powerful of these clans had attained more economic and political power than the imperial court.

These five trends were not objects in isolation to each other. To the contrary, they were part of one large system whose developments were interdependent with the rest. These intersections are easy enough to spot: the transition from armies composed of conscripted citizen-farmers to professional soldiers and mercenaries led to the dissolution of the universal draft and the adoption of a universal capitation tax. The tax, which could only be paid in currency, prompted peasants to borrow money from richer farmers, merchants, and money-lenders, who in turn became possessors of the land when the peasants defaulted on their loans. This in turn created a sort of landed gentry eager to cement their new found wealth and power by engaging in large scale trade and political office holding. Both of these occupations required intimate familiarity with the language and canon of the imperial court, and members of these families soon immersed themselves in the imperial prestige culture. The families thus became a bridge between the emperor and the disparate regions of his empire, imposing his will across the land in a manner the Han's understaffed bureaucracy could never have achieved. This decentralization of power - towards the great families in the interior and great generals on the far frontier - allowed the Han to maintain a vast empire for the better part of three decades. However, this scope of warlordism and landlordism increased with time, and as it did, the imperial court's influence waned, eventually reaching the point where it had no functional control of the country outside of the capital. Divided between warring generals, bandits, and powerful families, the dynasty collapsed into a disunion that would last several hundred years.

This is a brief sketch of the much larger picture Lewis paints in his book. He does this with great skill, adeptly weaving this larger view into his chapter length descriptions of classical Chinese cities, rural life, kinship, and geography. Without a doubt, THE EARLY CHINESE EMPIRES is a masterpiece of historical argument, and an incredible resource for students of history. Were it not for a few sweeping statements lacking in citation, poor chronology (the one provided in the back is hardly sufficient for those unfamiliar with period), and Lewis's failure to acknowledge and give proper time to competing theories, this book would receive a guaranteed five stars. As it is, I give the book a solid four. (4 ½, if Amazon would allow me.)

*To an extent all works of history can be described as such. Good surveys tend to be *less* like this however, givinga bit more emphasis to "what" than the "why" of a chosen period.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good Intro
The only other book that covers the period is the much larger volume 1 of _ The Cambridge History of China _. This book also makes use of recent archaeological work such as manuscripts found in tombs. My one objection is that while he frequently mentions Jia Yi he never mentions Jia's great fu (prose poem) "The Owl" so ably translated by Burton Watson and a few others. It's one of the finest expressions of philosophical Daoism, especially its attitude towards death.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very good coverage of the subject
This is a very good book covering this time period. It's broken down in to sections (religion, law, literature, etc.) to make it easy to follow, or easy to research just a particular topic. It's well written and easy to read and even enjoyable, which is a tough feat for a history book.

Some minor critiques: I wish the author or publisher had included the Chinese characters next to the pinyin words, so those familiar with the written language could better understand. Also, I think it should have started out with a long chapter giving a linear, chronological history of the Qin and Han periods. That would have made it better to understand some of the subsequent chapters. Reading this from front to back, you still get a good sense of the chronology, but starting out with that would have helped.

I'm looking forward to subsequent books in this series, plus I understand the author is also working on a different project discussing pre-imperial China. That will be nice. ... Read more

10. Speaking of Chinese: A Cultural History of the Chinese Language
by Raymond Chang, Margaret Scrogin Chang, Margaret Scrogin Chang
Paperback: 208 Pages (2001-12-15)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$6.10
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Asin: 0393321878
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Not a how-to text, this beguiling book is instead a fascinating look at Chinese language and culture. Ranging through history, literature, folklore, linguistics, and sociology, this is a breezy, straightforward primer of surprising breadth. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

2-0 out of 5 stars Ray and his wife are out of practice
This might be a harsh comment to say about this book.In fact, considering this is written in the 70s, when the Cold War is in full swing, I think this book has it place to make this seemingly inaccessible language available to the masses.

Generally a fascinating read, on the origins and the "logic" behind the written Chinese language, there are a few things that the reader should be aware.Again, I think these points come from the Changs's desire to make the language accessible to the American reader.

First, from time to time, for the sake of illustration, the book mixes up the Authentic ("Complex" as the Chinese would call it) script and the Simplified scripts.While they are colloquially interchangeable, where the simplified script is used in the same sense as informal abbreviations, it is more appropriate to stick with one script throughout the book.

Second, the authors seem to be stuck with the idea that each Chinese character has a corresponding one-word English meaning.I think the learners of Chinese as an additional language should get over this notion.Most Chinese Characters are abstract, and simply cannot be expressed in single words in English or, for that matter, other languages.There are Latin or Arabic terms that cannot even be fully translated into other languages, so why should we assume that it is not the case for Chinese?

Finally, some of the materials were wrong, or misrepresented.One such example is the "pastry" story that is presented early on in the book.The story, which had its historic roots, was altered significantly to suit the writers' vision.Sometimes, going back to the need to map every Chinese word to every English word, the translation is either incomplete, or done out of context.

The Chinese writing on the book is probably done by the author, and introduced into the book as images.While the writing is generally correct and legible, the handwriting suggests that he does not write or speak Chinese regularly.So I think while the authors have a reasonably deep theoretical knowledge in the Chinese language, they are also out of practice.

In evaluating this book, I also have to put it in context.It was written in a time when the Chinese language was still a very foreign and exotic entity, and that the American understanding of it still left much room to be desired.This book served the purpose of bridging the gap then.In this day, I think we need something more substantial.It makes a good introductory text nevertheless, only if the reader is aware of the quirks and is willing to avoiding falling for them.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Excellent summary of the culture and history of language in China.Very readable.Helpful appendices of dynasties, historical feats, common radicals, and others.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great for learning about Chinese language and writing.
This book is great for learning about Chinese language construction and writing. And its relationship to Chinese culture and history.But not for learning specifiaclly how to speak or write Chinese.

With that said, this is a very entertaing book and hard to put down.
Among the subjects it covers are:

* Langage construction.For exaample how questions are asked
in Chinese.And general sentence structure.

* How pictographs came about and how archologists traced their

* How Chinese pictographs are taught to children in China.
(They have to memorize them--each one.)

* Chinese tongue twisters.

* How Chinese writing styles differ from the spoken word,
classical and contemporary. How this related to testing
for government officials, and how the Communist revolution
changed this.

* How Chinese language construction differs from English

And much more.

I have been working at teaching myself Chinese, and it is so different that there is a lot of the concepts that I was not able to grasp until reading this book.

If you are going to study Chinese, I would highly recommend reading this book first.

If you are interested in Chinese culture, I highly recommend reading this book.Culture and language are intimately tied togeather.

5-0 out of 5 stars Speaking of Chinese
Excellent!This little book is packed with information and is easy to read and follow.Topics covered:The written and spoken language, its historical roots, household communication, the future of the language and the impact of technology.I have perused other Chinese language books, but this one is by far the best I've seen.

5-0 out of 5 stars A fascinating book...
OK, first and foremost, this is not a language learning book. What it is is a "learning aid" book that motivates your interest and curiosity of the structure and origins of the Chinese written language. What do I mean? If you are learning Chinese, it describes many relationships between characters that enhance your ability to remember them, as well as recognize insights to meanings of characters you do not even know. In some ways it is a narrative version of another excellent book, the more dictionary-like "Reading and Writing Chinese: A Guide to the Chinese Writing System" by William McNaughton and Li Ying. Both excellently address the origins and relationships between characters, but with very different styles.

Chang and Chang colorfully, interestingly, and amusingly describes contrasts, contradictions, and anomalies in character formation. It is a charming book that I would highly recommend to the language student.

Even if you are not learning the language, the book still offers interesting discussions about characters. Western languages, and many others, are truly different from the "phonetic" languages so many of us know. Chinese construction is old, yet novel, so meaning-rich, that it presents an interesting discussion and perspective. And the writing itself remains unchanged over a much longer period than western languages.

Read a few of its pages and see if you don't agree. ... Read more

11. The Columbia History of Chinese Literature
Paperback: 1368 Pages (2010-01-29)
list price: US$40.00 -- used & new: US$37.38
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Asin: 0231109857
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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The Columbia History of Chinese Literature is a comprehensive yet portable guide to China's vast literary traditions. Stretching from earliest times to the present, the text features original contributions by leading specialists working in all genres and periods. Chapters cover poetry, prose, fiction, and drama, and consider such contextual subjects as popular culture, the impact of religion, the role of women, and China's relationship with non-Sinitic languages and peoples. Opening with a major section on the linguistic and intellectual foundations of Chinese literature, the anthology traces the development of forms and movements over time, along with critical trends, and pays particular attention to the premodern canon.

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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Cornucopia
Apart from the Indiana Companion, there is no more wide-ranging or authoritative history of Chinese literature available than this titanic achievement.The survey is comprehensive, the information (as far as I can tell) accurate, and the judgements fair-minded and balanced throughout.Time and time again, I was able to find in the admirably thorough index obscure writers who were not otherwise easily accessible, and many of whom don't feature even in the two volumes of the Indiana Companion itself.Particularly useful features are the appendices which give the Chinese names of (almost) all the names and titles mentioned in the text.No one who's genuinely interested in Chinese literature, either ancient or modern, can afford to be without this exemplary work of scholarship. ... Read more

12. A Short History Of The Chinese People
by L. Carrington Goodrich
Hardcover: 336 Pages (2008-11-04)
list price: US$42.45 -- used & new: US$33.96
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Asin: 144373117X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A Short History of the Chinese People by CARRINGTON GOODRICH. Contents include: Preface to the First Edition xiii Preface to the Third Edition xvii L The Beginnings of the Chinese i The Prehistoric Period The Historic Period the Shang ca. 1523-1028 B. C. The Chou ca. 1027-256 B. C. The Early Chou The Middle and Late Chou II. The First Empires 31 The Chin 221-207 B - C The Han The Early or Western Han 202 B. C.-A. D. 9 An Interregnum The Hsin Dynasty A. D. 9-23 The Later Han A. D. 25-220 Han Culture III. The Period of Political Disunion 58 The Three Kingdoms and Western Tsin A. D. 220-317 The Eastern Tsin and the Turkic Hsiung-nu Mongol Dynasties 317-420 The Wei in North China, and the Sung, Chi, Liang, and Chen Dynasties in the South 420-589 IV. A Reunited China The Sui and the Pang 590-906 The Sui 590-618 The Tang Dynasty 618-906 Religion and Culture Under the Sui and the Tang V. Disunion the Sung and the Partition of the North and Northwest 143 The Five Dynasties and the Ten Independent States The Sung 960-1279 The Khitan, Tangut, and Jurchen VI. The Mongols The Yttan Dynasty, 1260-1368 171 VII. A Chinese House The Ming, 1368-1644 189 VIII. The Ching, or Manchu, Dynasty 1644-1912 214 IX. The Republic 1912- 23 2 Appendixes Supplementary Readings 24-7 Chronological Table 259 Chronological Chart 261 List of Chinese Characters 263 Index 273 Paleolithic Sites in East Asia 3 Neolithic Sites in East Asia 6 Black Pottery Sites in China 9 Shang Dominion 1 1 Early Chou 20 Middle Chou 22 Late Chou 25 The First Empire Chin 33 The Han Empire 44 The Three Kingdoms 59 Routes of Chinese Pilgrims 107 Pang Empire 122 The Sung, Tangut Hsi-Hsia, and Liao Empires 147 The Mongol Empire 1 77 Ming 191 Cruises of Ming Admirals 1 93 Empire of the Manchus 217 Illustrations ILLUSTRATIONS WILL BE FOUND FOLLOWING PAGE 140 PLATE I. Digging for the remains of Paleolithic man, near Peking II. Gorillaj Peking manj modern Chinese j v Prehistoric painted pot from Kansu V. Early bronze vessel, ca. 1300-900 B. C. VI. White pottery vessel, ca. I2th century B. C. VII. Earliest known form of Chinese writing, ca. I2th cen tury B. C. VIII. Documents on wood of Han date IX. Sundial, with a reconstruction of the suggested form of gnomon in place X. How an ancient Chinese book was assembled XL House model painted pottery of Han dynasty 202 B. C.-A. D. 220 XII. Section of painting attributed to Ku K ai-chih fl. AJX. 350-400 XIII. Avalokitesvara, northern Wei dynasty A. D. 386-535 XIV. Detail, band of celestial musicians, from a stela, A. D. 551 XV. Front of a stupa, yth century A. D. XVL Kneeling Bodhisattva from Tunhuang, 8th century A. D. XVII. Bronze mirror, Tang dynasty A. D, 618-906 xi Xli ILLUSTRATIONS XVIII. Wall painting The fight for Buddhas relics, Tang dynasty A. D. 618-906 XIX. Pottery figurines Ladies playing polo, Tang dynasty A. D. 618-906 XX. Part of oldest extant printed book The Diamond Sutra scroll, A. D. 868 XXI. Bowl, Ting ware, Sung dynasty A. D. 960-1279 XXII. Painting Bare willows and distant mountains, by Ma Yuan . A. D. 1200 XXIII. A mountain scene in China XXIV. The imperial palace library, Chien-lung period A. D. 1736-1795, Peking XXV. Two varieties of ephedra Preface to the ffirst Edition THE history of the Chinese people cannot often enough be told. Old as it is, new light is being shed on it every year. Mean while the Chinese are making history before our eyes. We need, as never before, to understand how they have come in our time to make such a sacrificial defense of a way of life that is theirs as much as it is our own. The Chinese are different from us at the same time they are more like us than the people of India, of Annam, or of Japan... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars L. Carrington Goodrich's History of the Chinese People
I'm glad that Professor Goodrich's history of the Chinese People has been reprinted. It is a classic, which I first read for a course taught by Professor John Fairbank at Harvard. It is objective, knowledgeable, concise, readable, and yet as comprehensive as is possible in a book of this length. Professor Goodrich was the most eminent authority on China at the time he wrote this history. He was born and raised in China and had native proficiency in Chinese and complete fluency in Mandarin. His father was a missionary who prepared one of the first Chinese-English dictionaries and translations of the Bible. His sister was fluent in five Chinese dialects and used to broadcast news in all five dialects. His wife, Anne Swan Goodrich, lived to the age of 109 and also published a number of works about China. Carrington Goodrich lived through some historic episodes of Chinese history, including the Boxer Rebellion. He was non-political, scholarly, and understood the thinking of the Chinese psyche, so this is not just another Western version of Chinese history. I have no hesitation in recommending this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent History of an Ancient Land
This is one of the best books I have ever read on China. The author has a unique way of concentrating the information that is very helpful when there are such very long periods of time involved as is the case with the Chinese dynasties. The discussion of each period is very detailed, it involves religion, politics, economics and the arts in depth, but it avoids getting into long, tedious explanations. It is also very helpful that professor Goodrich highlights the special contributions and inventions for each period. Naturally there have been some changes in our perception of Chinese history since 1943 when the book was published, and some 'minor' dynasties such as the Liao have been upgraded by archeological evidence that has been explored and studied in our times. This is still a very useful book because of its concise and precise descriptions, great illustrations and excellent maps. It still provides the best introduction I know to Chinese history. ... Read more

13. Sources in Chinese History: Diverse Perspectives from 1644 to the Present
by David Atwill, Yurong Atwill
Paperback: 432 Pages (2009-03-06)
list price: US$50.40 -- used & new: US$30.43
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Asin: 013233089X
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The format of Sources in Chinese History assumes the use of outside readings or a textbook, but for the more adventurous it could also be used as a standalone sourcebook.  Each chapter begins with a short introductory essay that examines a key event, personage, or theme from the period covered by the chapter.  In addition, the authors have selected perspectives that help to orient the student to the issues, trends and challenges of each particular period, and hope that the different viewpoints presented will lead students to rethink the way in which historical events are commonly understood.

... Read more

14. Modern Chinese History Essentials
by Dr. Edwin Pak-wah Leung Ph.D.
Paperback: 176 Pages (2005-08-02)
list price: US$7.95 -- used & new: US$4.54
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Asin: 0878914587
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The Concise, Comprehensive Guide to the Modern Chinese Nation

This new single-volume reference on the modern Chinese nation deftly chronicles the broad expanse of Chinese history surveying not only this superpower’s complex culture and politics but the numerous societal revolutions that transformed a pre-industrial nation into a superpower. Here is an informative and fascinating account that begins with Imperial China and leads into the Opium War, the Taiping Uprising, the Civil War and the Communist Victory, Mao’s Socialist Transformation, and many other political, economic and social events critical to understanding modern China. Writing about the most current information gathered from years of study and research, Dr. E. Leung offers a fresh and compelling approach to the history of today’s China.

This handy pocket guide is the essential reference for any student or enthusiast of modern China.
... Read more

15. Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States
by Andrew Coe
Hardcover: 320 Pages (2009-07-16)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$15.35
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Asin: 0195331079
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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In 1784, passengers on the ship Empress of China became the first Americans to land in China, and the first to eat Chinese food.Today there are over 40,000 Chinese restaurants across the United States--by far the most plentiful among all our ethnic eateries.Now, in Chop Suey Andrew Coe provides the authoritative history of the American infatuation with Chinese food, telling its fascinating story for the first time.
It's a tale that moves from curiosity to disgust and then desire.From China, Coe's story travels to the American West, where Chinese immigrants drawn by the 1848 Gold Rush struggled against racism and culinary prejudice but still established restaurants and farms and imported an array of Asian ingredients.He traces the Chinese migration to the East Coast, highlighting that crucial moment when New York "Bohemians" discovered Chinese cuisine--and for better or worse, chop suey.Along the way, Coe shows how the peasant food of an obscure part of China came to dominate Chinese-American restaurants; unravels the truth of chop suey's origins; reveals why American Jews fell in love with egg rolls and chow mein; shows how President Nixon's 1972 trip to China opened our palates to a new range of cuisine; and explains why we still can't get dishes like those served in Beijing or Shanghai.The book also explores how American tastes have been shaped by our relationship with the outside world, and how we've relentlessly changed foreign foods to adapt to them our own deep-down conservative culinary preferences.
Andrew Coe's Chop Suey: A Cultural History of Chinese Food in the United States is a fascinating tour of America's centuries-long appetite for Chinese food.Always illuminating, often exploding long-held culinary myths, this book opens a new window into defining what is American cuisine. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (49)

4-0 out of 5 stars Chop Suey and real Chinese Food
This is a entertaining book with lots of information. I suspect most of it
is true.You can check; the end material, mostly notes, cover 50 pages.
I only noted one curious omission: Joyce Chen taught Mandarin cooking
(well, a reasonable approximation) on PBS, but is not mentioned.
Jennifer 8. (not a typo) Lee covers some of the same territory and much
related territory in "The Fortune Cookie Chronicles". I recommend both books.

4-0 out of 5 stars A definite collectible for serious 'foodies'
There are many who describe themselves as 'foodies' whose only claim to the title is that they enjoy eating expensive food. Serous 'foodies' in my estimation are those who have an abiding interest not only in eating or cooking food, but in the science and history of a diverse range of subjects relating to food in general.

If you fall into the latter category, this is a book you will want to have in your collection. It is a detailed and, as far as I can tell, a well researched look at the Western experience of Chinese food and culture. It takes the reader from the arrival, in China, of the first American ship in the mid-eighteenth century, to the state of Chinese cuisine in North America today, and it does so with a wealth of information.

Occasionally, the book tends to be a little dry. Some material, such as the origin of 'General Tso's Chicken' is handled a little more light-heartedly and entertainingly elsewhere (The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food, come to mind, for example) but this is a more scholarly work and the dryness, where it occurs, never becomes tedious or make one wish to skip ahead at any point. The review of the origins of 'Chop Suey' is, I think. particularly well done.

I have well over 300 food related books in my collection and have, over the years. discarded nearly as many. This book I will keep and read again.

4-0 out of 5 stars A 7 Course Banquet of History
At once I must say: this book exceeded my expectations and was at the same time a little disappointing.

From the opening: "On a frigid morning in February 1784, the Empress of China set sail from New York Harbor", I realized I was not reading the book I had expected. In fact, it made me question the title- as did the following hundred pages, which proves to be, while quite n in-depths look at Chinese cooking in China and the West's various attempts to colonize and fraternize with the so-called Celestial Empire, it was taking a great deal longer than I might have expected to get to what I had expected to be reading.

Do not get me wrong, what you will find here is a fascinating and detailed in-depth retelling of some of the most famous meetings between round-eyes and the heathens and opinions from both sides on the relative cultural and gastronomic aspects of their food and cooking. I learned a lot about the opening of China and many famous events associated with it, but that was not what I was after. Call me shallow, but there you go.

What I was looking for really got going during the mid-1800's and the earliest migration of Chinese to the West. There were a great many aspects to this era I have knowledge only form bad westerns and television shows, so it was fascinating reading to learn more of how it really happened, including the many backlashes, uprising and banishment of the Chinese as they tried to fit in. Here the book really takes off tracing the rise of Chinese cuisine from a novelty to a staple of the American dining experience, including the "Americanization" of much of the food, a la "La Choy".

And of course, a great many pages are dedicated to the true story beind the titular dish, Chop Suey. So many versions and legends abound, Coe seems to offer the definitive explanation as to what really happened. One of my favorite passages seems to sum up how Coe feels about the whole thing: "Today, chop suey is a relic in most parts of the United States, another food fad that has ended up on the trash
heap of culinary history".

A large section is devoted to Nixon's "opening" of China and how they dealt with the a full-formal Chinese banquet and excellent descriptions abound of the many exotic dishes served as well as the varied reactions of the guests

All in all, a great many gray areas in my knowledge of the subject were vividly colored, while I found the narrative at times witty and insightful, it was often as dry as a textbook. If you are looking for the big picture, you will definitely enjoy this fine work. If you want the "Blazing Saddles" version, skip ahead.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great history of Chinese cuisine
What else can be said?If you're a fan of Chinese food in America, you'll love knowing how it all got here.The book is funny in places, always entertaining and very informative!Great stuff.

5-0 out of 5 stars Forward with chop suey
This is an entertaining and very well written social history of Chinese food in America--especially of Americans' reactions to Chinese food.It focuses on the gradual evolution from fear and distrust to adulation.
Other reviewers have covered the ground, so I have little to add.My first taste of Chinese food was of canned La Choy chop suey--its history is given in this book.In Hong Kong, much later, I learned that chop suey, more correctly tsap seui ("miscellaneous leftovers") in Canonese, was a food of Toisan vegetable farmers. They would have some leftover vegetables at the end of the marketing day, and these were often the smallest and tenderest, so they would stir-fry them all together, with whatever bits of meat might be around (usually not much) and some flavorings.A fine dish.Toisanese in America quickly learned to vary it according to local availability and tastes.Since all this, I have lived through the coming of Sichuanese food to America and the consequent boom, the rise of all sorts of specialty restaurants, and the migration of chefs.I can now get anything from specialized sweets to medicinal foods in San Gabriel near my Riverside base.There are Yunnanese restaurants, Burma-Chinese restaurants, Islamic Chinese restaurants.I don't need to go to Hong Kong any more.A thing that interests me is the way Chinese food (like Celtic and Andean music) has "swum upstream"--gone global in the face of the spread of American fast food and its displacement of less robust traditions.
I hope Andy Coe will do a book on all this soon. ... Read more

16. The Chinese Civil War 1945-49 (Essential Histories)
by Michael Lynch
Paperback: 96 Pages (2010-05-25)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$10.45
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Asin: 1841766712
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Out of the ashes of Imperial China arose two new contenders to lead a reformed nation; the Chinese Nationalist Party, the Kuomintang, and the Chinese Communist Party. In 1927, the inevitable clash between these two political parties led to a bitter civil war that would last for 23 years, through World War II and into the Cold War period. The brutal struggle finally concluded when Communist forces captured Nanjing, capital of the Nationalist Republic of China, irrevocably altering the course of China's future. Dr. Michael Lynch sheds light on the cruel civil war that ultimately led to the establishment of the People's Republic of China. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

3-0 out of 5 stars Readable but Incomplete Survey
Professor Michael Lynch presents a concise overview of the main period of the Chinese Civil War in Osprey's Essential Histories volume no. 61. This volume serves as an introduction to this complex conflict and is likely to be useful for readers looking for a concise history. However, the author focuses primarily on the period 1945-49 and provides only a few pages of background material on a conflict which most sources cite as beginning in 1927 and which actively continued into 1950. The Communist invasion of Hainan Island during March-May 1950 - which involved over 100,000 troops on both sides - is not even mentioned.Even the 2-page chronology has no reference before 1945 or after 1949. Thus, readers unfamiliar with this conflict are likely to have difficulty putting events into context or understanding why the PRC and Taiwan are still at odds. The author's overview of the Civil War covers the main phase of the conflict in sufficient detail for readers to understand why the Communists prevailed (answering the why part of the equation), but without sufficient military detail for readers to understand the `how' part of the equation. While the author does mention some military assistance from the Soviet Union and impressed Japanese POWs, it is still difficult to see how the PLA transitioned so quickly from a guerrilla force into a regular army with heavy weapons. Battles and campaigns are addressed in such general terms, with little sense of numbers involved, casualties or tactics employed, that they have little meaning beyond `lots of Chinese fighting, Nationalists losing.' Overall, this volume is a useful synopsis, but somewhat marred by an overly-restricted timescale and lack of military detail.

The introductory sections provide only very brief background on the opening of the struggle between the Chinese Communists and Nationalists. A key event like the Long March is mentioned only briefly in two paragraphs and then left behind - this was a defining moment for the CCP.Furthermore, the early dynamic of conflict between 1927 and 1939 favored the Nationalists, with the Chinese Communists unable to achieve anything beyond survival in a remote province.Once he gets into the post-WW2 period, I found that the author's narrative was fairly balanced, although leaning a bit toward the Communists. The author contrasts KMT corruption (as if this is unknown in Communist governments) with CCP ruthlessness and brutality on both sides. He divides the military campaign into three main phases, each getting progressively worse for the Nationalists, until they are forced to flee to Taiwan in 1949.

Overall, the maps and narrative and decent as an introduction, but still fairly generic. Few specific units are mentioned or depicted, no strength or casualty figures for battles given, so it is difficult to evaluate what has transpired.The volume begins to decline in quality a bit with the 6-page `Portrait of a soldier' section, which is more about torture and mistreatment of two individuals rather than their training or experience as soldiers.The 5-page section on Mao and CKS is a bit more interesting, but still a bit generic and doesn't offer any of Mao's famous sayings about warfare other than the hackneyed `power grows from the barrel of a gun.'The section on the US and Soviet roles fails to mention key moments, like when the 7th Fleet patrols in the Taiwan Straight helped to prevent a PRC invasion of Taiwan right after defeat on the mainland. US support for Chiang was instrumental in keeping his regime alive and supplied with military hardware for the next two decades.

The author cites four factors for Nationalist defeat: poor tactical leadership, poor soldier training, low morale and lack of effective KMT organization/propaganda. These all seem pretty much on target, although luck certainly played a role, too. Had the Japanese units in China waited to surrender to KMT or other Allied units, or if Truman had not asked for the Soviets to invade Manchuria, the CCP would have been much weaker in 1945 and Chiang might have had more time to consolidate his regime with US help.The author also cites economic hyperinflation as a key contributor to undermining the KMT regime - an interesting point.Overall, the author has written an interesting but incomplete synopsis of the Chinese Civil War and many aspects of the military struggle are covered in rather generic fashion.

5-0 out of 5 stars excellent digest
This booklet can be highly recommended to anyone wishing to gain a good and straight overall knowledge of the early years of post-WW2 China. The final years of the Chinese Civil War, the clash between Mao tse dong and Chang kai chek, between the Communist and the Kuomintang -- a struggle which actually started in the 1930s -- is here very well described with a good selection of illustrations. An excellent digest about one of the 20th century's most important chapters.

4-0 out of 5 stars Good introduction
This book provides a good overview of the Chinese Civil War in the years after World War II. The coverage of the political background to the war is particularly strong and the discussion of the roles of the US and USSR is even handed and thoughtful. The discussion of the brutal conditions endured by soldiers on both sides was also enlightening, though the sections on civilians felt under-developed. While the descriptions of the war's main campaigns were clear and well illustrated with maps and photos, I was disappointed by the lack of detail on the fighting - this appears to have been a victim of the relatively short length of this series of books. All up, this book succeeds in providing a summary of the war. ... Read more

17. A History of the Modern Chinese Army
by Xiaobing Li
Paperback: 432 Pages (2009-07-02)
list price: US$27.95 -- used & new: US$15.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0813192404
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Since the establishment of the Red Army in 1927, China's military has responded to profound changes in Chinese society, particularly its domestic politics, shifting economy, and evolving threat perceptions. Recently tensions between China and Taiwan and other east Asian nations have aroused great interest in the extraordinary transformation and new capabilities of the Chinese army. In A History of the Modern Chinese Army, Xiaobing Li, a former member of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), provides a comprehensive examination of the PLA from the Cold War to the beginning of the twenty-first century that highlights the military's central function in modern Chinese society. In the 1940s, the Chinese army was in its infancy, and many soldiers were rural conscripts and volunteers who had received little formal schooling. The Chinese military rapidly increased its mobility and weapon strength, and the Korean War and Cold War offered intense combat experience that not only allowed soldiers to hone their fighting techniques but also helped China to develop military tactics tailored to the surrounding countries whose armies posed the most immediate threats. Yet even in the 1970s, the completion of a middle school education (nine years) was considered above-average, and only 4 percent of the 224 top Chinese generals had any college credit hours. However, in 1995 the high command began to institute massive reforms to transform the PLA from a labor-intensive force into a technology-intensive army. Continually seeking more urban conscripts and emphasizing higher education, the PLA Reserve Officer Training and Selection program recruited students from across the nation. These reservists would become commissioned officers upon graduation, and they majored in atomic physics, computer science, and electrical engineering. Grounding the text in previously unreleased official Chinese government and military records as well as the personal testimonies of more than two hundred PLA soldiers, Li charts the development of China's armed forces against the backdrop of Chinese society, cultural traditions, political history, and recent technological advancements. A History of the Modern Chinese Army links China's military modernization to the country's growing international and economic power and provides a unique perspective on China's esttablishment and maintenance of one of the world's most advanced military forces.

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Customer Reviews (5)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good benchmark review
This is a good text for anyone who kows very little and wants to know the basics of the modern PLA.The section on the Korean war was especially interesting.The Chinese point of view in Korea is often simpified. Li could do a follow-on looking at the PLA in the 2000's, as many of his points have come to pass.

1-0 out of 5 stars A History of the Modern Army
I had expected to read a history the modern Chinese army, but instead, if stripped of the gossip about personalities, I got very little for my time.The author fills most of the book with gossipy details of who is who in the CCP, and details of returning scholars from MIT, Cal Tech, all such pages of gossipy details are common knowledge

Another point, I don't consider the book scholarly work.

I further find his use of the hyphenation unusual (for example: unprec-edented, p 22; Ma Zha-oxiang, p 46) where using proportionate spacing would have eliminated most of his awkward hyphenation, and facilitated ease of reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars A History of the Modern Chinese Army
If you are looking for answers to questions like China can build high quality sporting fire arms but after 10 teas of try can't build a modern military rifle...why China can build modern merchant ships but can't build functioning surface combat ships or submarines...or why after have a smuggled US F-16A for over 20 years the Chines can't get a clone right )the J-10) this book is not for you.

This book is a very good survey of the modern Chinese military other wise known as the PLA. The author Xiaobing Li currently a professor at the University of Central Oklahoma is a former, maybe still current PLA officer who joint the military and CP after the Great Leap Forward/Cultural Revolution of the 1960's. Prof. Li writes a good narrative but manages to avoid addressing any of the critical questions any the PLA or it organization. Going unaddressed is why is there two CMC's Central Military Commission, one Government and one CP...what does the PLA mean when it talks about moving into a high tec. military from a manpower dominated military...and most importantly what are the short, medium and long tern aspirations of the PLA.

What Prof. Li does do and does quite well is provide a readable survey of how the PLA went from it start as a peasants revolt to military seeking to be a world wide military power. The first part of the journey starts and ends with the dynamic personally of Mao Zedong after the death of Mao the PLA seem to be a ship without a Captain.

This is a fine text by an insider who is reluctant to give up any of the PLA family jewels, but by that fact alone offers an insight in to the mind set of the Chinese military. This text is only a starting point in trying to understand Chine's military ambitions. By design I think the more you learn and read about the Chinese, and especially the PLA the more you realize you don't know or understand very much at all. This book will add to your knowledge base,but not to any real understanding of the Chinese military. Or as the Chinese might say, it's a brick not a house.

2-0 out of 5 stars Promises Much but Delivers Little
Xiaobing Li, a professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, sets out to write a social history of the transformation of China's People's Liberation Army (which includes the air force and navy, as well) between 1949 and the present. Although the author presents no real thesis - other than his recognition that the PLA has evolved from a poorly-educated, low-technology force into a better-educated, moderate to high technology force - his intent is to provide insight into Chinese military transformation. The author also cites the lack of access to Chinese sources as hindering previous histories of the PLA. On the whole, this book has some interesting sections with some new information here and there, but it generally fails to accomplish its objectives. Social military histories - such as John A. Lynn's The Bayonets of the Republic (1984) or Samuel F. Scott's studies of the French Army - usually rely on extensive demographic information, but Dr. Li's book has no charts or appendices. While he does incorporate several new Chinese first-person accounts to buttress his narrative, they ultimately provide only anecdotal insight, not a comprehensive look at the Chinese military. In essence, this book is a case of someone marketing the fact that he has first-hand experience of a particular subject, but who failed to conduct the actual research to support a theory that he never puts forth.

This history is divided into nine chapters, with the first quarter of the book focused on the pre-1949 period. The author begins discussing military traditions in Chinese history but shoots himself in the foot by citing Disney's Mulan as "an accurate depiction." Normally, serious scholarly work in military history avoids using cartoons for references. These early chapters highlight several problems with this author's approach, particularly a tedious writing style. At times, the author seems to accept Chinese Communist dogma as truth (he was born in China and served in the PLA in the 1970s), such as his assertion that China received no support from Western countries against the 19th Century Taiping Rebellion (he completely misses the fact that `Chinese' Gordon and F. T. Ward raised the "Ever Victorious Army' - the first Western-trained Chinese army). At any point, he notes that the CCP jailed 1.27 million counter-revolutionaries and executed 710,000 but then he says Communist China was `not a police state." The author then gets completely wrapped around the axle talking about peasants, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Mao Zedong for the next 50 pages - so much for a history of the Chinese Army! Instead of analysis, he quotes Communist dogma that, "the peasants' enthusiasm would bring about the CCP's early victory in the civil war." What garbage. Even as far as the Chinese Civil War goes, this book really provides no insight into why the KMT Army lost or the Communists won.

The focus does not begin to shift to the Chinese Army until Chapter three on the war in Korea. Although there is no doubt that the PLA inflicted heavy losses on UN forces in the first six months of Chinese intervention in Korea, the author is quick to cite Communist successes but silent on Chinese defeats during UN counterattacks in 1951. The social history of the PLA is essentially divided into the peasant/conscript phase of 1949-1954, the conversion to a Soviet-style conventional military in 1955-1967, a period of anarchy in 1967-1972 during the Cultural Revolution and a gradual drift to a more modern military after 1972. Some of the best parts of this book are detailed sections on the Second Quemoy-Matsu crisis in 1955 and the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979. Here and there, the author injects some very good first-person accounts, but unfortunately they are not really tied together to support any real thesis. They are interesting, but inconclusive.

The final chapter, on the Chinese military after the 1989 Tianamen Square Incident (which is given short shrift), is particularly unsatisfying. While the author notes the increasingly technological nature of the PLA - particularly bombers, submarines and missiles - the changes are not really qualified in any way (e.g. are PLA forces good enough to provide leverage in a Taiwan crisis?). Indeed, Taiwan is given short shrift and there is no real comment on how the PLA might perform in a war versus the United States or Taiwan. The author puts great stock in the fact that the PLA is recruiting better-educated personnel and that it is spending more on weapons, but he fails to understand the social implications. In order to get better-educated recruits, the PLA had to drop its terms of service to only 2 years, but more sophisticated weapons require longer training times; therefore, by the time that the PLA gets a trained soldier, they only have about a year of active service left. Nor does the author comment on the lack of reserves or a professional NCO on the PLA - which is odd for a self-professed social history. The author also peddles the facile belief that increased military spending equates to greater military efficiency - go ask Saddam Hussein about that one!Ultimately, this book promises much, but delivers little.

5-0 out of 5 stars An Excellent and Tremendously Thought Provoking Book!
This is an EXCELLENT book - tremendously well researched and written and extremely timely. Once I picked it up I read it cover to cover.

Professor Xiaobing Li is extremely well qualified to author a book on the modern Chinese Army. Professor of History and Director of the Western Pacific Institute at the University of Central Oklahoma, he has authored a previous book on the Chinese Army in the Korean War and served in China's People's Liberation Army.

Beginning with the Chinese Revolution, Professor Li discusses the various stages in the development of the PLA. He writes, for example, that more than 2.3 million Chinese troops participated in the Korean War supported by another 800,000 non-combatant volunteers. The Chinese suffered more than one million casualties, inclusing 152,000 dead.

Anyone interested in how the Chinese military would sieze Taiwan has only to read the chapter on Russianizing the PLA. Professor Li provides unparalleled insights into Chinese joint amphibious planning and operations to seize Taiwan and its surrounding islands. I was left with little doubt, at the conclusion of this chapter, that if the Chinese apply themselves to the seizure of Taiwan they will succeed - and quickly!

Li also discusses China's war with India in 1962, (resulting in more than 10,000 casualties between the two sides), and Vietnam, between 1965 and 1970 (resulting in some 65,000 casualties) and the PLA's border clashes with Soviet troops between 1969 and 1971.

More importantly, he provides detailed biographical information on key Chinese civilian and military leaders up to the present day. Anyone believing that Hu Jintao, the current Chinese leader, is reform oriented has only to read that he spent four years in Tibet as Communist Party Secretary crushing the independence movement and Buddhist rebellions there.

Professor Li concludes that China must build a confident and democratic society before it can have a modern army. Still, while factors of insecurity and instability remain, the Chinese currently enjoy a favorable surrounding security environment. It thus seems possible, according to Professor Li, for the country and the PLA to avoid a general war for a fairly long period of time. "Relaxation," he writes, "is still the general trend in international security."

The author concludes, however, that the issue of Taiwan's independence remains a highly sensitive and dangerous one.

This is a tremendously good read! Still, I believe Professor Li remains too optimistic about China and its future use of military force. The country is consuming increasingly huge quantities of oil, at a time when world supplies are dwindling, and faces a shortage of fresh drinking water that borders on the catastrophic. Some 70 percent of the country's water is polluted, with 30 percent of that toxic. It will soon reach a tipping point at which technology will not be able to offer a short term solution.

It is clear that the growing need for oil and water will jeopardize the country's economic stability and growth and could cause its leaders to turn their eyes to the near abroad for a quick, short term solution. The answer seems to lie in Siberia, with its vast reserves of Russian oil and Lake Baikal, which holds twenty percent of the world's fresh water and forty percent of Russia's.

Thus the chapters on the Sino-Soviet border disputes, in Professor Li's book and those on the Taiwan crisis become especially relevant, for if China ponders war in the west, against a Russia denuded of conventional military forces in Siberia, it must first divert the world's attention by a crisis in the east.

"A History of the Modern Chinese Army" is a tremendously thought-provoking work and a valuable contribution to the literature on the PLA in the 21st Century. ... Read more

18. Modern Chinese: History and Sociolinguistics
by Ping Chen
Paperback: 244 Pages (1999-06-28)
list price: US$34.99 -- used & new: US$28.72
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0521645727
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The Chinese language, spoken by over one billion people, has undergone drastic changes over the past century.This book presents a comprehensive, up-to-date account of the development of Modern Chinese from the late nineteenth century to the 1990s.It describes and analyzes in detail, from historical and sociolinguistic perspectives, the establishment and promotion of Modern Spoken Chinese and Modern Written Chinese, and the reform of the Chinese script, and reveals the interaction of linguistic, historical and social factors in the recent development of the language. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good overview of the history of the language
Chen does an excellent job of tracking the development of Modern Chinese not only in the mainland - where language policy reform, character simplification, and drives to increase national literacy rates make for interesting reading - but also in Taiwan, Singapore and overseas Chinese-speaking communities.The author is clear and thorough in his analysis of dialects as well as Standard Mandarin, and disparate influences (such as Japan) are discussed in detail.While I am happy to see that the book uses proper pinyin romanization for Chinese terms, the only improvement I could suggest would be to include the hanzi (character) equivalent as well to assist second-language learners of Chinese.A good resource for both linguists and students of the language.

Nathan Dummitt
author of Chinese Through Tone & Color

5-0 out of 5 stars History of Modern Chinese
Those interested in the history and development of modern Chinese will find this a must read. It covers the written and spoken language and has some interesting, little known points, such as the influence of Japanese onmodern Chinese and the liberal policies of Beijing towards dialects.Healso talks about Taiwan and Singapore and the status of the various Chinese"languages". Reading this book you realize what a modern languagePutonghua or Guoyu is in many ways. Informative yet easy to read thisbelongs on the bookshelf of any serious Chinese student. I hope Chen Pingis working on a follow up devoted to the spoken language and it'svarieties. ... Read more

19. Imperial Chinese Military History: 8000 BC - 1912 AD
by Marvin Whiting
Paperback: 602 Pages (2002-04-17)
list price: US$32.95 -- used & new: US$26.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0595221343
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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the untold story of warfare in China from its beginning to 1912. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars A valiant effort which unfortunately falls short
Imperial Chinese Military History is a book that attempts to describe the history of China from the very first beginning all the way up to 1912 in chronological order. The format is encyclopedic which describes events that happened virtually year by year.
It also injects in crucial events that happened elsewhere in the world. From time to time, the author would elaborate more on a particular topic, battle, or person.

The fact that the book is in encyclopedic format doesn't render it very readeable. It is nice to have if you want to check quickly what happened at a particular year but not quite if you want to learn and understand more about history as a whole.

The book is supposedly about military history. I bought the book expecting that it would try to expand upon the often neglected aspect of tactical and operational details of chinese armies. The author however falls into the trap of simply reporting of what happened, not on how or why they happened. The author would try to perform further analysis on a few selected topics. Unfortunately the analysis is rather superficial and often based only on what previous works have touched upon. There is almost no original and fresh conclusions other than acknowledgments that so and so event might not have happened the way it was recorded in history.

And lastly, the main detractor from the book is the fact that it is riddled with grammatical and spelling errors. Although such things do not change the fact that the book is filled with useful information, they do challenge the credibility of the author.

Seeing the dearth of military history of china in english, I applaud the attempt of the author. It is very unfortunate that it doesn't quite deliver. ... Read more

20. Tales from 5000 years of Chinese History (Two Volumes)
by Lin Handa & Cao Yuzhang
Hardcover: 746 Pages (2009-11-12)
list price: US$47.90 -- used & new: US$15.62
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1602201129
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Tales from Five Thousand Years of Chinese History, consisting of two volumes, is a collection of stories arranged in chronological order, covering a period from ancient times to the pre-Opium-War Qing Dynasty.This book introduces the monumental history of China in anecdotal fashion that makes each of the events come alive. Entertaining and informative, this ambitious narrative will enlighten those who wish to know about the chronicles of the Middle Kingdom. Tales from Five Thousand Years of Chinese History (Volume I) starts from ancient times and culminates in the last years of the Eastern Jin dynasty.Tales from Five Thousand Years of Chinese History (Volume II) starts from Northern and Southern dynasties and culminates in the Qing dynasty. ... Read more

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