History is Not Boring discussion

Any good books on China?

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message 1: by Maarten (new)

Maarten Hi, I'm new to this group but I already have a question for everyone: what is a good book to start off reading about Chinese history? I'm looking for an introduction into the general history, from the beginnnings up till now, not a specific period (yet). All tips are welcome, thanks in advance!

message 2: by Jessica (new)

Jessica | 17 comments I would recommend "China: A New History" by John K. Fairbank. It was originally published in 1992 by Harvard University Press. I'm not a Chinese historian so I don't have a lot to compare this one to, but it got good reviews and is really comprehensive.

If it's general history you're looking for this one has got it. He starts from China's prehistory, referencing archeology, and ends with the end of Mao. I've only used this as a reference book so I haven't read it straight through but it's well written and doesn't get too bogged down in "history-speak."

message 3: by Patrick (new)

Patrick | 8 comments I would recommend books by Jonathan Spence, who is perhaps the most prolific author writing on China today. The book by Spence that best suits what you're looking for would be IN SEARCH OF MODERN CHINA.


Personally, I like many of Spence's other books more than this one, because this book is a general history of China, not one about a specific time period. In Spence's other books he often focuses on a specific character, event, or historical phenomenon, and makes it very interesting. i don't mind general-type/introductory history books, but given China's vast history and the numerous similar names, I find it particularly challenging trying to keep all the developments and the characters straight.

Let us know which book you decide to read, and how you like it!

By the way, I am a big fan of Chinese history...here's a partial list of the books I've read about China for your to peruse...


message 4: by Ramberto (last edited Feb 23, 2008 04:26AM) (new)

Ramberto | 1 comments I would recommend The Great Wall at Sea: China's Navy Enters the Twenty-First Century (Hardcover)
by Bernard D. Cole.

It's on the Navy's Reading List and summarizes China's history at sea. It also seeks to understand China's current naval capabilities and assess her national intentions with regards to sea power. I'm still reading it, but it's not a bad book.


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