China: A New History / Edition 2

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John King Fairbank was the West's doyen on China, and this book is the full and final expression of his lifelong engagement with this vast ancient civilization. It remains a masterwork without parallel. The distinguished historian Merle Goldman brings the book up to date, covering reforms in the post-Mao period through the early years of the twenty-first century, including the leadership of Hu Jintao. She also provides an epilogue discussing the changes in contemporary China that will shape the nation in the years to come.

Recognized for decades as the West's doyen on China, John King Fairbank here offers the full and final expression of his lifelong engagement with this vast ancient civilization. Fairbank's masterwork is without parallel as a concise, comprehensive, and authoritative account of China and its people. 83 halftones, line drawings and maps.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
No American scholar of China was better known to the public and academia alike than Fairbank. This history of China, completed two days before his death in 1991, is a fitting final work. In covering the breadth of the country's history, from the earliest archaeological records to the present, the author is occasionally short on details, but lay readers and undergraduate students will appreciate the perceptive analysis and explanation throughout, leading to a better understanding of this complex nation, its people, and its importance in the world. Furthermore, Fairbank's command of recent research, along with an excellent bibliography, will appeal to the scholarly audience. Highly recommended. History Book Club selection.-- Kenneth W. Berger, Duke Univ. Lib., Durham, N.C.
The author of the acclaimed 1587: A Year of No Significance takes a fresh look at the full sweep of Chinese history, from neolithic times to the present. He argues that, far from a simple reform, what is happening in China today is the latest step in major restructuring of a huge nation. No bibliography. Recognized for decades as the dean of Western sinologists, Fairbank died in September 1991, shortly after completing this rich and magisterial account of China and its people over the four millenia from the last neolithic days to the present. Includes a number of useful maps and 48 fascinating photos and historical illustrations on glossy stock. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
San Francisco Chronicle

Manages to tell its sprawling, turbulent, 4,000-year story in a single volume without either losing clarity or oversimplifying its subject...Rich and fascinating.
— Arnold R. Isaacs

Washington Post Book World

Will serve for decades to come as a standard reference and textbook.
— Robert L. Worden

San Francisco Chronicle - Arnold R. Isaacs
Manages to tell its sprawling, turbulent, 4,000-year story in a single volume without either losing clarity or oversimplifying its subject...Rich and fascinating.
Washington Post Book World - Robert L. Worden
Will serve for decades to come as a standard reference and textbook.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674116726
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/1998
  • Edition description: ENL
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 546
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 1.44 (d)

Meet the Author

John King Fairbank was Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and Director of the East Asian Research Center at Harvard University.

Merle Goldman is Professor of History, Emerita, at Boston University and Associate of the John K. Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, Harvard University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : approaches to understanding China's history 1
Pt. 1 Rise and decline of the imperial autocracy 27
1 Origins : the discoveries of archaeology 29
2 The first unification : imperial Confucianism 46
3 Reunification in the Buddhist age 72
4 China's greatest age : northern and southern song 88
5 The paradox of song China and inner Asia 108
6 Government in the Ming dynasty 128
7 The Qing success story 143
Pt. 2 Late imperial China, 1600-1911 163
8 The paradox of growth without development 167
9 Frontier unrest and the opening of China 187
10 Rebellion and restoration 206
11 Early modernization and the decline of Qing power 217
12 The republican revolution, 1901-1916 235
Pt. 3 The Republic of China, 1912-1949 255
13 The quest for a Chinese civil society 257
14 The nationalist revolution and the Nanjing government 279
15 The second coming of the Chinese communist party 294
16 China's war of resistance, 1937-1945 312
17 The Civil War and the nationalists on Taiwan 331
Pt. 4 The People's Republic of China 343
18 Establishing control of state and countryside 345
19 The great leap forward, 1958-1960 368
20 The cultural revolution, 1966-1976 383
21 The post-Mao reform era 406
Epilogue : China at the close of the century 457
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2003

    A fantastic overview

    Most fascinating for me in this history of China was the discussion of the recent economic opening that this huge and populous nation has undertaken. The reasons given for why they have been becoming capitalistic, (in fear of becoming like the USSR and to try to modernize their society) were intriguing. I must admit that I had a long prejudice against Chinese politics, as I considered it a state run by thugs. But after reading this book, I realized the long tradition of Confucian thought, and its effects on governance over the history of China. Also interesting was the role the US had in the Nationalist cause at the turn of the last Century. The tragic situation of women in the society, which was not elaborated on very much, but still fascinating and disturbing was also explored. I also enjoyed the stories of the dynasties, although I still don¿t have them all straight in my mind. But I did get a feel for why the dynasties rose and fell, and how they interacted with the rest of the world. The rise of the Communist party in China was very interesting, and I am very curious to see where things go now. The civic traditions and endemic corruptions inherent in the social structure could be seen in their interrelated complexities rising over the millennia as governance of this vast and diverse land was figured out. Mostly this book opened my mind to a society and culture I knew little about, and helped me to begin to appreciate it much more. Compared to the ever-present violence and destruction, religious persecution and conflict, and social disruption and seemingly unending tales of power-drunk warlords conniving to divvy up and consume land and influence that I gleaned reading the history of Europe, the history of China seems almost stable and bconsistent.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2010

    Great overall history of China!

    I bought this book to help me prepare a lecture on China for my college history class, and it has been very helpful. It is thoroughly researched, well-written, and well-organized. It covers prehistoric China until post-Mao, and is a good book for any history teacher seeking to research Chinese history and prepare a lecture.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2006


    I do enjoy this book by Fairbank. It is well written. But for beginners, it could be a difficult read. Also, on the current China affairs, it is very weak. For this, I recommend a new book, China's global reach by a Chinese commentator George Zhibin Gu, which is the best book on China's current affairs I have read.

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