- Paperback: 976 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 3rd Revised edition edition (5 Feb. 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393934519
- ISBN-13: 978-0393934519
- Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 3.6 x 23.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Search for Modern China Paperback – 5 Feb 2013
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History at its best...all in the vivid, accessible style for which the author is well known. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
Jonathan D. Spence is Sterling Professor of History at Yale University, where he has taught for thirty years. He has been awarded MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. The Search for Modern China won the Lionel Gelber Award and the Kiriyama Book Prize.
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Top Customer Reviews
He made a source book which accompanies this book, which has extra documents and pictures.
He starts with the decline of the late Ming dynasty in the late C17, enough to capture the flavour of a highly centralised, bureaucratic, top-down society which has been the nature of China since the first unified Qin dynasty of 221BC, but he doesn't make the mistake of getting bogged down in detail that far back.
In the subsequent Qing dynasty, we see the first painful enforced contacts with the west, including the shameful role of the British, in flogging opium to save having to spend silver on purchasing Chinese goods. In addition to the usual problems of natural disasters and the difficulty of collecting taxes in such a vast area, the Qing had to contend with major rebellions but managed to survive for a surprisingly long time up to 1912, partly owing to the effectiveness of some impressive campaigns under remarkable Confucian-trained leaders, motivated by their loyalty to traditional Chinese values. Despite this, and a belated willingness to reform, the Qing eventually fell, leading to a prolonged period of chaotic civil war between a succession of warlords.Read more ›
DISTRUST OF FOREIGNERS
In 728 pages and 369 years covered, barely a single positive thing came from abroad. If bad foreigners were a pack of cards then;
- The "King" is Japan: invaded China in 1931, conquered most of the Eastern Seaboard over the following decade, with the 1937 Nanjing Massacre the low point (40,000 - 400,000 killed, depending on who you believe). The Chinese didn't even have the satisfaction of beating them in a war; the chip remains well off the shoulder.
- The "Queen" is the USA. Their anti-communist stance and leading role in keeping China out of the UN made them a natural enemy. As Taiwan's firmest supporter, they at least once (in the 50s) and perhaps twice (in the 90s) prevented a Chinese invasion of the island which served as a US missile base too. US troops gave Chinese troops a trashing in the Korean war (China lost nearly a million troops against the US's 160,000) - and this hasn't been forgotten.
- The "Jack" is Britain. Accustomed to getting their own way in the 1800s, Chinese refusal to buy anything from Britain was solved, militarily, by forcing them to buy British -empire grown opium. A series of military defeats (and the sacking of the Summer Palace) throughout the 1800s delivered more ports (e.g. HK) and rights to British merchants, and created lasting resentment (e.g. treaty of Nanjing, 1842). A few scores were settled since; 1949, the Chinese killed 17 Britons trying to evacuate the Embassy in Nanjing, and the British Embassy in Beijing was torched (and one killed) during the cultural revolution.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Never would I have guessed it! The book is perfect, as new, and I only paid it 10£, while the 3rd edition costs 70£. Absolutely my best book purchase ever!Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
my first review since amazon began, I was randomly browsing books on China and came across this old chesnut, having read it several years ago I was extremely surprised to see it so... Read morePublished on 22 July 2013 by RICHARDO
The Search for Modern China is the work everyone recommends on modern Chinese history, written by a prominent academic and sinologist yet aimed at the general public, detailed... Read morePublished on 12 July 2012 by reader 451
This book was essential reading for one of my modules at university, so first and foremost I must say that I am probably biased against it because I had to read it under... Read morePublished on 29 Mar. 2012 by S
China history is a quite complex matter. Western studies are scattered and many times concentrated on few periods, essentially contemporary time. Read morePublished on 27 Dec. 2011 by xifang roberto
I read this in 1996-7 when first I arrived in China. To date, the best history book I have ever read, better even than the classic 'The Story of Art'. Read morePublished on 23 Nov. 2011 by WT BELOE
For anyone interested in contemporary China, this books provides the necessary historical backdrop in great and well reasoned detail. Read morePublished on 10 Jun. 2011 by rob crawford