Jonathan Fenby is a former editor of The Observer newspaper. He is the author of books and articles on both Europe and Asia. His survey of contemporary France, On The Brink, was universally hailed by the critics. His latest book is Alliance: The Inside Story of How Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill Won One War and Began Another (2007).
China's Imperial Dynasties: 1600 BC - AD 1912by Jonathan Fenby
From the 17th century BC – when the Shang rulers of the eastern valley of the Yellow River assumed power in the cradle of Chinese civilization – until 1911, when imperial China collapsed in revolutionary chaos, the country was ruled by a succession of powerful dynasties. In China’s Imperial Dynasties: 1600 BC – AD 1912, Jonathan Fenby tells their rich, complex and often turbulent story.
China’s imperial dynasties display a recurring pattern of birth, growth, prosperity and collapse due to external pressures. A number of powerful emperors left a particularly strong imprint on China’s troubled history, whether as conquerors, consolidators, tyrants, reformers or reactionaries. At the heart of Jonathan Fenby’s fascinating and informative narrative are vivid profiles of such emperors as the Qin emperor Shi Huangdi, who began the construction of the Great Wall;Wudi, the Han emperor who developed China as a centralized Confucian state; Kublai Khan, the first emperor of the Mongol Yuan dynasty; the Ming emperor Yongle, a brilliant general who raised his dynasty to its military peak; and the dowager empress Cixi, who rose from humble origins as the daughter of an ordinary Manchu family to rule over all China.
Interweaved among these stories of the rise and fall of emperors and dynasties are special features exploring key themes in Chinese history: from Buddhism to the Boxer Rising, from Confucianism to concubines, from the civil service to the Silk Road, from funerary customs to the Forbidden City, from gunpowder to the Great Wall, and from porcelain to printing.
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