13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
An excellent overview,
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This review is from: China: A History (Paperback)
Keay's book is probably the one to chose if you are looking for a one-volume history of China from the origins of Chinese civilisation to today. The alternative is the Cambridge Illustrated History, but that's shorter and Keay, at 530 pages, already packs it in. The book is well written and absorbing, and it is not overtly Euro-centric in outlook (for example, Keay finds nice things to say about Maoism). It also has fascinating detail about the imperial annals and the rich tradition in Chinese history-writing. Keay successfully uses the same approach as in his history of India and gives equal length to all periods, so that this is not weighted towards modern history. His justification is that giving undue importance to the modern era is to focus on times of Western dominance, whereas their classical or Ming periods matter more or equally to the Chinese. If you would however like to read more about the last four centuries, then Spence's The Search for Modern China is highly recommended.