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The Dragon and the Foreign Devils: China and the World, 1100 BC to the Present
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The Dragon and the Foreign Devils: China and the World, 1100 BC to the Present

3.29 of 5 stars 3.29  ·  rating details  ·  65 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Gelber provides a sweeping narrative history that tells the story of China's relations with the rest of the world over three millennia. Informative text boxes elaborate on particular people, topics or key moments to complement the main narrative.
Hardcover, 492 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published January 1st 2007)
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I rated this book a three because I think that for the right person/situation, the book is probably excellent (probably 4 or 5 stars). For myself at this time, though, I didn't like it (by GoodReads' system, only 1 star). Here's why:

This is an incredibly well-written textbook covering the history of China, with special attention to its relationship to those outside its borders, for the past 3000 years. The style is straightforward, clear, and easily followed. The content is thorough.

If I was stu
The book is more like a two and a half stars or three but that doesn't mean I actually liked it. In my opinion unfortately there was not more chapters given to Chinese history before Europeans began to trade there. I also skipped the private personally details of Mao as that information is not any of my business nor anyone else's, I don't believe the more intimate details of indivduals are anyone's business. In my view to mention the private intimate life of Mao is very poor writing and inexusab ...more
A complete, but somewhat dry, analysis of China's complete history of international relations. A must for anyone studying the Middle Kingdom and it's politics, people, or personality.
Aug 07, 2011 Maria added it
It took me a long time to get into this. It is not very well written (definitely needs better editing) & the first half, basically until the end of the Qing Dynasty, was not particularly engaging. I enjoyed the rest of the book until the last chapter, which was again not particularly insightful. That being said the subject of the book is interesting and it's difficult to condense the history of China into something manageable like this. Left me wanting to read more (but not from this book).
This is a good book and provides a thorough history of China and sound insights into China's relationships with world powers and its neighbours. I gave it 3 stars because, for anyone with basic knowledge of Chinese history, over half of the book is regurgitation of what we already know. It is in the second half that the book becomes interesting as the author starts analyzing what the state of Chinese society, economy, political leaning and overall position in the world means or could mean...
Aug 21, 2014 sherdnerdess rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in east asian history
A very detailed overview of the complex history of this vast country. There wasn't enough about the earliest times for my liking, but then I am a prehistorian by training. I found the WWII section very hard to get through (thus 3 stars, not 4) as I'm not particularly interested in modern history, but I'm glad I slogged it out. I now understand Japan's role in the war far better.
A disappointment. Gelber needs a good editor - picking on grammar mistakes makes me sound like a retired English teacher, but when you have to re-read sentences because they simply don't make any sense, it's beyond nit-picking. Also, Gelber's egregious factual errors outside his speciality area (Protestant Jansenists?) stick out like the proverbial.
To the Chinese, there are two types of Barbarians, "raw and cooked." I did not want my first visit to the "Middle Kingdom" finding me a "raw" Barbarian. This is a good primer on history and to a lesser extent culture. Gelber is a lucid and well-studied author who has taught at Harvard, Boston University and the London School of Economics.
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I would have given this book a higher rating however I did not approve of how the author decided to talk unnessarily about Mao's sex life. I found this totally irrelavant to the overall book and I was very disappointed by it.
I stopped on page 45. OK history primer but I am not interested in a history of China. Interestingly China dates from about 200BC. For some reason, I though China was older than Egypt (6000BC).
Missie Kay The Book Fix
I couldn't finish this--the writing wasn't as terrible as some reviewers said, but it did move through history incredibly quickly, and didn't live up to the title's stated focus.
Alexander Hills
Pretty good overview of Chinese history.
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