1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Very well-written introduction to modern Chinese history,
This review is from: The Penguin History of Modern China: The Fall and Rise of a Great Power, 1850 - 2009 (Paperback)
Fenby is a journalist,not a historian,so that accounts for this book being an easy read for the non-Sinologist.
It kicks off at the times of the Opium Wars,and follows the story of China seemingly going down the plughole in the late 19th century-at some points,westerners thought there would be a "Scramble For China" as had just happened in Africa.Then,some Chinese started exploring the new ideas brought from outside-nationalism,socialism,democracy-and saw that they could benefit China.
So,the confrontation between China and the outside world from the 19th century onwards was made up of ideas,not just armies.
Fenby also stresses continuities in Chinese history.His account of the Cultural Revolution points oiut that some themes of the 1960s had very deep roots in Chinese history.
His account of post-Mao China also shows the the tendencies towards localism,corruption and autocracy in today's Communist Party aren't modern inventions either.
A good introduction,and the bibliography is worth a glance if you wish to read in more detail on the themes of Fenby's book.