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China: A New History
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China: A New History

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  430 ratings  ·  22 reviews
John King Fairbank was the West's doyen on China, and this book is the full and final expression of his lifelong engagement with this vast ancient civilisation. It remains a masterwork without parallel.
Paperback, Second Enlarged Edition, 472 pages
Published April 7th 2006 by Harvard University Press (first published 1992)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,250)
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There is more of a focus on the Qing dynasty and after. In general, when compared to Hucker and Gernet, Fairbank & Goldman (I abbreviate 'Fairbank' from here on) are more closely interested in mechanisms, both governmental and economic, that predominated during historical times. He gives references to the range of academic studies concerning particular issues without getting bogged down in academic disputes.

However none of the books give a convincing explanation of the decline in wealth that
Luke Williams
Dry and academic but brilliantly comprehensive, Fairbank explores China's extensive history from political, economic, cultural, social and philosophical perspectives.

Before reading this book, most of what I knew about China had either trickled down from the media or from even less reliable sources. Now the progression of this vast region of the world has been integrated into my broader understanding of human history, and I am richer for the experience.
So far I hate this book. The authors have managed to make what should be a fascinating history utterly boring and tedious.

I doubt I'll finish it.
About as good of an overview of China's "5000 year history" as you're going to get in 500 pages. Just be aware that it reads like a textbook with an overwhelming barrage of names and dates, although that shouldn't come as any surprise to Chinese history enthusiasts. In fact, I read this book under the recommendation of a friend of mine from Harvard who DID use it as a required text for an introductory class (John King Fairbank taught at the department of Chinese studies there, which now shares h ...more
Douglas Hayes
Of all of the books I have read so far on China this has been the most helpful to date. Fairbank presents his material in such a way that the reader has a sense that he is getting both an accurate presentation of the facts of history, and a reasoned explanation for them. He has the ability to reach down below the surface and draw up to the mind the reasons why things happened as they did, and why China is the way it is. This is especially helpful when trying to understand China from the perspect ...more
Wrting a concise one-volume history of China must be akin to the old open-ended essay topic: "define the universe, and give three examples". Fairbank does about as well as one could, using China's past of confucianism to explain the philosophy of say, the Tiananmen Square massacre or the Cultural Revolution of the late 60's. In this he does a very able job, and to this untrained historian at least, the events that transpire become almost predictable.

On the negative side, history in the sense of
Ethan Cramer-Flood
Reading this book cover to cover may be one of the nerdiest things I've ever done, and that's saying something. China: A New History is literally a text book. It's what college students are often assigned as their base resource for a class likely to be called "China Studies 101" or "Chinese History 101". It's the kind of thing that professors assign, but students rarely read all the way through. Maybe you catch a chapter here and there, but there's no way you have the patience to read the whole ...more
Clay Kallam
The only reason this isn't five stars is that I would have liked more detail about the earlier Chinese dynasties, but all in all, this gave me just what I wanted: An overall background in Chinese history.

John King Fairbank, who wrote all but the last two chapters, is more than a competent writer, and the chapters are broken up into short, easily digestible sections that allow readers many options for stopping points. Fairbanks' command of the material is obvious, and though this is clearly a wor
Anh  Le
This book is excellent for those who have somewhat learned about Chinese history from other general introductory titles and sought to consolidate their understandings of these historical events. This feature made it superior to any (supposedly) titles for beginners out there with very thought-provoking and in-depth analyses that even addressed and challenged any historiographical frameworks of studying Chinese prehistory and the modern periods. I highly recommend this book to advanced students w ...more
Tried several times but just can't get thru this book. I've been spoiled by the likes of Doris Kearns Goodwin, David McCullough. Can't go back to dense, ultra academic, dry writing, no matter how thorough or interesting the points.
Overall, an excellent introduction to the history of China. It tends to gloss over quite a bit, but it provides enough background and context to get a better understanding about why China behaves the way it does. Fascinating!
This book is a bit dated (published 1992), but it gives a great overview of Chinese history. The author is a good historian and a good writer. I learned a lot, and this will be a good foundation for future China reading.
Nov 10, 2010 Kevin marked it as to-read
Just bought this. Psyched to get reading about the Shang, Zhou and Xia dynasties way back at the beginning of Chinese history, the legendary culutres idolized by Confucius and that influenced his teachings.
James Violand
Quintessential book of the history of the Chinese people and culture. Written without the prejudice born during the Red Scare. Factual and seemingly unbiased. Wonderful read.
Chris Gould
Fantastic overview for anyone who's willing to stick it out. Fairbank's style is simply witty and entertaining, and Goldman's Businesslike concluding chapter helps emphasize this.
Excellent summary of China. I liked how it doesn't always go chronologically, but walks through different aspects of Chinese society and history so you can see it as a whole.
Nick Black
Borders, recommendation from a friendly Morehouse history professor, 2008-05-13. Good but certainly not great.
He does an extraordinary job at making a brilliant, fascinating history quite bland and tedious.
Raymond Thomas
Interesting analysis of China's history and the causes behind its current development today.
Nov 11, 2008 Dan marked it as on-hold
Shelves: history
I'm continuing this book that I started on my August trip to China. Actually, I just started over.
read 1/2, up to 20th century. good
Kristen marked it as to-read
Aug 31, 2015
Dan Bonin
Dan Bonin marked it as to-read
Aug 29, 2015
Daniel marked it as to-read
Aug 25, 2015
Alexandra Butterworth
Alexandra Butterworth is currently reading it
Aug 22, 2015
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