China: A History

China: A History

by John Keay

Paperback(First Trade Paper Edition)

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An authoritative account of five thousand years of Chinese history

Many nations define themselves in terms of territory or people; China defines itself in terms of history. Taking into account the country's unrivaled, voluminous tradition of history writing, John Keay has composed a vital and illuminating overview of the nation's complex and vivid past. Keay's authoritative history examines 5,000 years in China, from the time of the Three Dynasties through Chairman Mao and the current economic transformation of the country. Crisp, judicious, and engaging, China is the classic single-volume history for anyone seeking to understand the present and future of this immensely powerful nation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465025183
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 12/06/2011
Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
Pages: 608
Sales rank: 140,964
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.70(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

John Keay is a former special correspondent for the Economist and contributes regularly to the Sunday Telegraph, Times Higher Educational Supplement, and the Literary Review. His past books include the best-selling India: A History. He lives in Argyll, Scotland.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations xiii

List of Maps and Diagrams xvii

Acknowledgements xix


Rewriting the past 1

Spadework 5

Cradle, core and beyond 10

The dynastic dynamic 15

The triumph of Pinyin 17

A matter of scale 20

1 Rites To Writing, Pre c. 1050 BC

The Great Beginning 25

Glint of bronze 31

Finding family 38

In the oracular 42

2 Sages and Heroes, c. 1050-c. 250 BC

Footprints of Zhou 50

Less spring than autumn 60

The Confucian conveyance 66

Warring states and statist wars 71

3 The First Empire, c. 250-210 BC

Stone Cattle Road 80

Qin's cultural revolution 88

Crumbling wall, hidden tomb 97

4 Han Ascendant, 210-141 BC

Qin implodes 106

Pawn to king 111

Jaded monarchs 118

5 Within and Beyond, 141 BC-AD 1

Han and Hun 128

Explorer Zhang and the Western Regions 135

Administering an empire 143

Confucian fundamentalism 151

6 Wang Mang and the Han Reprise, AD 1-189

A one-man dynasty 156

Across the watershed 164

Decline and fall 174

7 Four Hundred Years of Vicissitude, 189-550

Three Kingdoms and the Red Cliffs 184

Dao and the Celestial Masters 192

Enter the Enlightened One 198

Into the abyss 203

Luoyang again 210

8 Sui, Tang and the Second Empire, 550-650

Intercalary conjunction 216

Sui-cide 224

Sons of the sunset and the sunrise 233

Beyond the Jade Gate 239

9 High Tang, 650-755

Wanton, not wayward 246

The greatest power in Asia 259

Like a breath of spring 267

A turning point 273

10 Reconfiguring the Empire, 755-1005

Low Tang 279

Five Dynasties or Ten Kingdoms 290

Song and Liao 300

11 Caving In, 1005-1235

The Great State of White and High 308

Reform and reappraisal 314

In Singing-girl Towers 321

Jin and Song 327

12 By Land and Sea, 1235-1405

Sunset of the Song 341

Mongol reunification 350

Mongol misadventures 361

Triumph of the Ming 369

13 The Rites of Ming, 1405-1620

From the edge of the sky to the ends of the earth 376

Misadventures and misfortunes 386

The Great Rites Controversy 393

Landmarks and inroads 402

14 The Manchu Conquest, 1620-1760

Overwhelming Ming 410

From Jurchen to Manchu 420

Much in demand 431

Zungharia, Xinjiang and Tibet 437

15 Death Throes of Empire, 1760-1880

Self-evident truths 446

Insults and opium 455

Taiping and Tianjin 467

16 Republicans and Nationalists, 1880-1950

Brush to pen 48o

From empire to republic 490

War and more war 499

Long March, long war 507

Epilogue 517

Notes 537

Bibliography 549

Index 561

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China 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Chris__C More than 1 year ago
A book that conveys tremendous enthusiasm for China but written with a clear appraising eye and well informed by wide reading and reflection. Keay contests many of the traditional textbook notions of Chinese history: that there is a more or less unbroken strand of national statehood and that at some deep level there have always been centralizing ideas that make regionalism a marginal force. Keay brings out the huge range of regional influences and forces and calls into question the very idea of a Chinese statehood apart from a few somewhat artificial impositions. At the same time with a wealth of detail he shows how much cultural continuity has meant to China. China, he seems to indicate, is a state of mind more than a state or a place. The book's strength is in conveying the ideas and outlooks that make up this state of mind. He recognizes that his approach goes against much thinking inside and some outside of China. It has certainly spiced up this reader's thinking about China, and made it seem even more fascinating and attractive.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful summary of Chinese history with a lot of material all in one place. The writing style is simple and readable, and the book is well researched. In terms of scholarship, this book is probably better than his better known book on India. Highly recommended.
tomc702 More than 1 year ago
as we get older we value good quality writing; this is a textbook on china. completely thorough, completely unboring. i don't know why textbooks get such a bad rap! this is an increadibly long book at first blush - but you will end up wishing it was part of a multi-volume set. china is in the headlines; take the time to read this book and understand.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While the information in this book is useful, the overuse of metaphors and confusing sarcasm makes it very difficult to read the book for more than five minutes at a time. If you are reading to improve your writing or general knowledge, choose another book where you will not be forced to wade through useless metaphors and possible sarcasm that make identifying actual content nearly impossible.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
cwhouston on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just what I wanted - an accessible and well written history of the middle kingdom covering the social, political and dynastic history right up to the ascent of Mao. It's got it all; territorial expansion, dynastic struggles, the interplay between Daoism, Buddhism and Confucian values, the Mongols, evolution of technology and literature, opium wars, the Generalisimo etc, What I found particularly interesting were the recurrent themes of the `mandate of heaven', the importance attributed to history in Chinese society and the repeated inability of `new' empires to consolidate gains. However, with so much to cover, no one area is dealt with in great depth and those seeking more detail, about recent history in particular, might wish to look elsewhere.I've read a couple of other titles by Keay and found his writing style hard work. Happily I cannot say the same for this book, which I've enjoyed reading immensely and learned a great deal in the process. The maps and photos within are clear and informative too. I find it hard to imagine that there are any significantly better single-volume histories of China available.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ready? Gavin
Anonymous More than 1 year ago