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Gr 10 Up
As the subtitle indicates, most of the text focuses on interactions between China and the West, and much of it is a sad story of mutual misunderstanding. Although the writing is usually clear (if not scintillating), occasionally it is confusing. What does it mean to say that "borders became increasingly varied" as dynasties expanded? A more extensive example occurs in a discussion of China's relations with neighbors, as the author does not identify the borders or the neighbors. The text occasionally reverts to Wade-Giles from now-standard pinyin. Students will long for more maps (there are only three). A few boxes highlight interesting subtopics; one on the Chinese navy describes its inadequacies, but not Cixi's famous misappropriation of sums meant to modernize it. The emphasis on borders means that this slim volume is far from a complete look even at China's recent past. Nevertheless, it touches on key points concerning the country's integrity and relations with outsiders, especially the United States. The absence of discussion of British and Russian involvement in Tibet and the northwest autonomous regions, and their eventual inclusion within Chinese borders, or of the contested border with India, will lessen the value of this volume overall.
—Patricia D. LothropCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.