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message 1: by Denae (new)

Denae (whimsicalmeerkat) | 126 comments My father is looking for a book that's a historical overview of China. He wants to know more about the country before traveling there, but he doesn't want a tourist geared book. He is a bit of a history buff and long, detailed historical books do not bother him at all. Any recommendations?


message 2: by Jaye (new)

Jaye The Inn Of The Sixth Happiness The Inn Of The Sixth Happiness by Alan Burgess

This is one of my all time favorite books. It's the story of a real woman who went to China before WWII and lived there taking care of orphans. It gives good insight as to the mind-set of that time.


message 3: by Denae (new)

Denae (whimsicalmeerkat) | 126 comments That looks interesting, but he's really looking for something that's a broad overview of the history, not something set in a specific time.


message 4: by peg (last edited Jun 06, 2013 08:13AM) (new)

peg (mcicutti) | 77 comments This book provides a broad overview of China's history:

China A New History by John King Fairbank


message 5: by Kay (last edited Jun 12, 2013 12:14PM) (new)

Kay (rekindling) | 27 comments Hm, which time period is your dad interested in? If he's looking for something that would encapsulate the past century or so, starting from the Nationalist uprising to the rise of Communism, I would highly suggest To Live by Yu Hua.

The book chronicles the life of a wealthy landowner during the early 1900s, during which he endures the Nationalist takeover of China and later the collectives of Communist China.

Books set in a similar time period are Life and Death are Wearing Me Out and Red Sorghum by Mo Yan. Both are highly recommended, and I believe the latter won the Nobel Prize.

If you're looking for something earlier, I have a few other suggestions for books I've heard good things about but never read. Keep in mind these were written before the 1900s so the language is older. Six Records of a Floating Life by Shen Fu recounts life during the Qing dynasty, Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin is a classic of the early Qing dynasty, and of course, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is the quintessential classic for any scholar of China.


message 6: by scherzo♫ (new)

scherzo♫ (pjreads) | 36 comments peg wrote: "This book provides a broad overview of China's history:

China A New History by John King Fairbank"


I recommend this one, too.


message 7: by Kate (new)

Kate (drivelaboutfrivol) | 2 comments peg wrote: "This book provides a broad overview of China's history:

China A New History by John King Fairbank"


Peg's recommendation is a good one, but to supplement it I suggest this one, which specifically covers the periods Fairbanks skims over.
The Open Empire A History of China Through 1600 by Valerie Hansen

Hansen is writing against a lot of earlier historians, so you'll get an overview of the historiography as a bonus. :)

Personally, I find Jonathan Spence's a richer, more engaging account of the post-1600 period than Fairbank/Goldman's:
The Search for Modern China by Jonathan D. Spence


message 8: by K. (new)

K. (traditionn) I liked China: A History by John Keay. It's an engaging but broad overview of the country's long ass history. :)


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