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Recommended reading for beginners


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#31 DTOWN

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Posted 24 August 2005 - 06:22 PM

Lafiel - Good call on those books but i especially found the MAO reading a nice change of pace while spending a month in CHINA this summer. It was great to finally see so many of the things I have only read about before in textbooks, and to get a different spin on things.

My new semester of grad school (China Studies) starts in a few weeks, and these are the courses i am signed up for:
1) Social Development of Mainland China
2) Political Development of Mainland China
3) Economic Development of Mainland China

Any one have any guesses as to what the texts might be or any reading suggestions to keep my on top of it?

Thanks guys!

#32 Altaica Militarica

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Posted 12 September 2005 - 03:44 AM

Focus on Military History

A Military History of China
Edited by David A. Graff and Robin Higham
(Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 2002)
On Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.co...=glance&s=books
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Dear Yun,

I had some problems with AMAZOn as here in Russia such practice is not widely spread. I tried to book the "Tian gong kai wu", but the instruction received from AMAZIN were not cleasr for me. How can I book such books, could anybody explain?

Best regards,

Alexey.

#33 Yun

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Posted 29 December 2005 - 09:47 AM

Recent posts on Peter Lorge's book and Mark Lewis' book have been moved here: http://www.chinahist...?showtopic=9026
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#34 orchid_dreams

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    ah, let's take a moment and think... ^_~

Posted 01 February 2006 - 05:34 PM

anyone here read The Dream of the Red Chamber (红楼梦)/ The Story of the Stone (石头记) yet?

i suggest you try the translation by oxford professor David Hawkes. it will give you a good understanding of chinese culture.
淡极始知花更艳,愁多焉得玉无痕?

#35 Elisha

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 06:52 AM

5,000 years of Chinese history can be overwhelming! One wonders where to start :g:

Borrowed 2 books today - haven't read them yet though did a quick scan. They look promising.

For the uninitiated like myself, it's nice to have a broad overview.

1. China Condensed - 5,000 years of history and culture by Ong Siew Chey published by Marshall Cavendish (200 pages)

Half of the book deals with it's history (so it's all very brief). The other half are divided into sections like Traditional schools of Thought; Religion; People and languages: Traditional literature; Interesting proverbs; arts and crafts; inventions and medicine; The Chinese calender and traditional festivals; The resurgence of China.

Take note though, the author is not a historian. It says at the back that "Ong Siew Chey received his educationin Chinese at Chung Ling High School, Penang, Malaysia. He became interested in Chinese literature in his early school years... He was trained in surgery at the University of iowa Hospitals. Prior to his private practice, he was Professor and Head of Surgery at the University of Singapore."


Also, being English educated and a total beginner, it's always nice to have material presented in simple format. I find Asiapac books easy reading. They present information in comic form in English. The one I'm reading is

2. Famous Chinese Diplomats through the Ages, illustrated by Ren Changhong and translated by Geraldine Goh.


Elisha

#36 Yun

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Posted 12 February 2006 - 07:50 AM

"China Condensed" is not accurate enough to serve as a good reference. I browsed through and found many mistakes and obsolete views, Ong Siew Chey meant well, but he didn't do enough research.

Please also avoid Ann Paludan's "Chronicle of the Chinese Emperors" like the plague, even though it's selling everywhere. I had to buy it to find out how inaccurate it is, and I hope to save others the expense.

A better quick general history of imperial China, less heavy-going than those I have already recommended, would be Bamber Gascoigne's "The Dynasties of China": http://www.amazon.co...9...ce&n=283155
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#37 Fornadan

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 09:14 AM

Hi, I'm person who's interested in, well, all kinds of history really, but perhaps in particular in the building and crumbling of empires (Fall of Rome, wars of Alexander's successors, etc...)

I've recently read "Historical Records of the Five Dynasties" which I found refreshing and at timees very amusing. (a general threatning all protesters by being chopped into pieces and eaten alive by soldiers :blink: )

So my question is:

Are any other books, either primary or secondary, aviable in English that focus on various periods of disunity?

#38 Yun

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 09:28 AM

Are any other books, either primary or secondary, aviable in English that focus on various periods of disunity?


There is still no authoritative and comprehensive work of history in English on the Age of Fragmentation, a gap which I hope to fill someday. But in the meantime, you could start with two collections of essays by various historians:

1) "State and Society in Early Medieval China", edited by Albert Dien

2) "Culture and Power in the Reconstitution of the Chinese Realm", edited by Scott Pearce

For the cultural and social side of the period, focusing on the Eastern Jin and Southern Dynasties:

"In the Shadow of the Han: Literati Thought and Society at the Beginning of the Southern Dynasties", by Charles Holcombe

For an overview of the political and military history of the period:

"Medieval Chinese Warfare, 300-900" by David Graff

For a translation of an interesting text dealing with one significant period of Northern Dynasties history, including a good Introduction by the translator:
"Memories of Loyang: Yang Hsuan-chih and the Lost Capital", by W.J.F Jenner
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#39 Fornadan

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 09:50 AM

For an overview of the political and military history of the period:

"Medieval Chinese Warfare, 300-900" by David Graff

I'll take a look at this one I think. It seems a bit short to cover so much time though

#40 Publius

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Posted 10 September 2006 - 08:52 PM

Great thread. I am an English speaking Chinese history enthusiast (my Chinese smells, but I'm new to it:)), so I am reliant on translations and haven't the capability to reference them with the original sources. So thanks (especially to Yun) for steering us Chinese illiterate in the right direction.

Some of my thoughts:

I agree, Joseph Needham's comprehensive study of Chinese discovery and invention is unrivalled and Robert Temple's "The Genius of China" is a well illustrated, informative, and abridged version.

Also I really enjoyed "The Retreat of the Elephants" by Mark Elvin
Posted Image
Retreat of the Elephants
This book is an environmental history of China which is divided into three categories: Patterns, Particularities, and Percepitons. Patterns is a panorama of Chinese enviromental history, including the history of climatology, deforestation, animal migrations, water transit, and human interactions (war). Particularities looks at case studies of Chinese environmental degradation, including Jiaxing and Guizhou.
Perceptions is an in depth look of how the Chinese relate to their environment. A worthy read.

Has anyone else read this? If so, what were your impressions?

Edited by Publius, 21 September 2006 - 08:41 AM.

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#41 Thaibebop

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 01:23 PM

Can anyone recommend a book that deal with the Qing that covers all from begining to end and not just end, or just Pu Yi. I think the dynasty had more to offer than the Last Emperor.
I am thinking of something profound to say.....

#42 Yun

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 02:19 PM

Jonathan Spence's "The Search for Modern China" has an OK overview of Qing history. For a good read on the founding and early consolidation of the Qing, I recommend the recently-deceased Frederic Wakeman's two-volume masterpiece "The Great Enterprise" (for an obituary of Wakeman, see: http://www.berkeley....kemanobit.shtml )

For rare details about the life of Qing emperors and aristocracy, see Evelyn Rawski's "The Last Emperors": http://www.amazon.co...r...TF8&s=books

For a highly-rated social and cultural history of the Qing dynasty, see Richard J. Smith's "China's Cultural Heritage: The Qing Dynasty":
http://www.amazon.co...i...TF8&s=books
The dead have passed beyond our power to honour or dishonour them, but not beyond our ability to try and understand.

#43 Thaibebop

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Posted 09 November 2006 - 02:22 PM

Jonathan Spence's "The Search for Modern China" has an OK overview of Qing history. For a good read on the founding and early consolidation of the Qing, I recommend the recently-deceased Frederic Wakeman's two-volume masterpiece "The Great Enterprise" (for an obituary of Wakeman, see: http://www.berkeley....kemanobit.shtml )

For rare details about the life of Qing emperors and aristocracy, see Evelyn Rawski's "The Last Emperors": http://www.amazon.co...r...TF8&s=books

For a highly-rated social and cultural history of the Qing dynasty, see Richard J. Smith's "China's Cultural Heritage: The Qing Dynasty":
http://www.amazon.co...i...TF8&s=books

Yes! That's what I was looking for. Thanks! :clapping:
I am thinking of something profound to say.....

#44 Great Han

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Posted 23 November 2006 - 05:13 AM

i'm a beginner,from xi'an.
very glad to see this forum,i like it.
why don't introduce some books writtend by chinese?i think someone who don't understand our chinese can't understand china's history!!!
犯我强汉者,虽远必诛!

#45 Yun

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Posted 23 November 2006 - 05:43 AM

i think someone who don't understand our chinese can't understand china's history!!!


They may not be able to understand it completely without reading Chinese, but I think it's too harsh to say they must learn Chinese before they learn any Chinese history.

If a Chinese who doesn't know English wants to learn some American history, should an American tell him, "Forget it, you don't know English so you can't understand America"? I think the Chinese person would feel very offended.
The dead have passed beyond our power to honour or dishonour them, but not beyond our ability to try and understand.




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