The Cambridge Illustrated History of China (Cambridge Illustrated Histories) Paperback – 25 Jan 2010
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In this sumptuously illustrated single-volume history, now in its second edition, noted historian Patricia Buckley Ebrey traces the origins of Chinese culture from prehistoric times to the present. Both a comprehensive introduction to an extraordinary civilization and an expert exploration of the continuities and disjunctures of Chinese history, Professor Ebrey's book has become an indispensable guide to China past and present.
About the Author
Patricia Buckley Ebrey is Professor of History at the University of Washington and the author of multiple books and articles.
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Top Customer Reviews
In short, this book is an excellent exemplar of a one-volume introductory history, and it is copiously and well-illustrated. Or as you might say, its yin and yang are in perfect harmony.
The book covers Chinese history from earliest times through to the 2008 Olympic games and beyond. Each period of history is given its own chapter, which is especially helpful if, like I was, one is studying the dynastic period.
The university module in question covers the dynastic period, so that was the only part of the book that I studied in any great detail. Each chapter is detailed and interesting, easy to read and contains lots of "boxes" that include information that might not be essential for the comprehension of the particular dynasty, but are often interesting little titbits about artists or other great men, paintings, cultural icons or even the great wall. The lion's share of the book is given over to the dynastic period but it also include a few brief chapters on the history of China since 1900. They do not go into the greatest detail, but I think they are detailed enough and highlight all the major events of the period.
The numerous images throughout the book are a pleasant addition. Many of them are full colour and most double page spreads have at least one picture to break up the large blocks of text.
Ebrey's writing style is engaging and easy to read, making this book pleasant, enjoyable and not too heavy. I think that the book is perfect for those who are looking for an academic textbook, but also the more casual historian who is looking for an introduction to Chinese history. For the casual historian, this book would make excellent bed time reading as well.
Just read Patricia Buckley Ebrey's 'Cambridge Illustrated History - China' (2nd Edition). Would recommend this to anyone looking for an outline history. Not that one reading of 360 odd pages makes for an expert on China. But it certainly helps in trying to understand some of the background to what is modern China.
Reminds me of how little I learned about China during my school days. And how we were programmed to measure China's progress in terms of how it imitated Western culture. Wrong approach.
Interesting to walk through the different dynasties - their rise and fall (Tang, Song, Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming, Qing) - through to Mao and modern China.
--author of A Galaxy of Immortal Women: The Yin Side of Chinese Civilization
It covers the history of China without getting too detailed and includes social change and religion.
It surprised me that China has been governed by 'foreigners' for much of its history (the pigtail was a decreed sign of submission to one foreign government) and that far from my understanding that only the twentieth century was a period of tumult, there were sustained, destructive rebellions and uprisings during the nineteenth century as well.
The author usefully cross refers to the developments in other cultures so the book puts the Chinese history into a world history perspective.
However, I did find the coverage from the 1950's onwards to be more of an anti-communist treatise than an objective history. The conclusion I drew from the text was that the Nationalists would have governed better - refer to the success of Taiwan and the enlightened 1930s Nationalist laws for the emancipation of women.
Anyway, apart from that disappointment I enjoyed the book as it had sufficient detail to satisfy my curiosity about this new super-power and the book provided a European perspective so the history of China was understandable to my Anglo-centric education.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
great book that i needed for my uni course. very interesting readPublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
i bought this as a Christmas present for our 17 year old Chinese friend, who is besotted by history. He couldn't take his head out of the book all day!
This book gives you an in-depth history of China up to the end of 20th century. It enables you to get a feel for the society and the technological advances made by that society... Read morePublished on 3 Nov. 2013 by Dr M. C. Norton