Search for Modern China

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In this widely acclaimed history of modern China, Jonathan Spence achieves a fine blend of narrative richness and efficiency. Praised as "a miracle of readability and scholarly authority," (Jonathan Mirsky) The Search for Modern China offers a matchless introduction to China's history.

Author Biography: Jonathan D. Spence is Sterling Professor of History at Yale University, where he has taught for thirty years. He has been awarded MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. The Search for Modern China won the Lionel Gelber Award and the Kiriyama Book Prize.

Covering more than four centuries of epic history with unsurpassed learning, imagination, and passion, Spence tells a story of vast struggle, of exhilarating dreams and crushed lives, and above all of the sheer capacity of the human spirit to endure. Professor of history at Yale University and author of numerous works on China, Spence shows the reader a world struggling to remake itself and establish harmony in light of recent events.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times
“Monumental.... History that is always lively, always concrete, always comprehensible.”
Washington Post Book World
“History at its best...all in the vivid, accessible style for which the author is well known.”
New York Times
Monumental.... History that is always lively, always concrete, always comprehensible.
Boston Globe
A remarkable achievement...vivid...fluent, graceful.... A publishing event.
Washington Post Book World
History at its best...all in the vivid, accessible style for which the author is well known.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Spence advocates democracy in China and presents contemporary views of its oppressive history, including Chiang Kai-Shek's fascist supporters and the bloodbath known as the Cultural Revolution. ``A splendid achievement, this sweeping . . . epic chronicle compresses four centuries of political and social change into a sharply observant narrative,'' said Publishers Weekly.
New York Times Books of the Century
[Spence] shows, rahter than tells, the continuity of Chinese history....This superb history will challenge and enrich Western thinking about contemporary China.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393307801
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Pages: 876
  • Sales rank: 787,207
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan D. Spence is Sterling Professor of History at Yale University, where he has taught for thirty years. He has been awarded MacArthur and Guggenheim Fellowships, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. The Search for Modern China won the Lionel Gelber Award and the Kiriyama Book Prize.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps xv
List of Tables xvii
Preface xix
Acknowledgments xxiii
The Use of Pinyin xxv
I Conquest and Consolidation 1
1 The Late Ming 7
The Glory of the Ming 7
Town and Farm 12
Corruption and Hardship 16
The Ming Collapse 21
2 The Manchu Conquest 26
The Rise of the Qing 26
Conquering the Ming 32
Adapting to China 38
Class and Resistance 44
3 Kangxi's Consolidation 49
The War of the Three Feudatories, 1673-1681 49
Taiwan and Maritime China 53
Wooing the Intellectuals 58
Defining the Borders 64
A Mixed Legacy 69
4 Yongzheng's Authority 74
Qing Power and Taxation in the Countryside 74
The Center and Channels of Power 79
Moral Authority 84
5 Chinese Society and the Reign of Qianlong 90
Social Pressures and Population Growth 90
"Like the sun at Midday" 97
Eighteenth-Century Confucianism 102
The Dream of the Red Chamber 106
Qianlong's Later Years 110
6 China and the Eighteenth-Century World 117
Managing the Foreigners 117
Aliens and Chinese Law 123
Opium 128
Western Images of China 132
II Fragmentation and Reform 137
7 The First Clash with the West 143
The Response of China's Scholars 143
China's Political Response 147
Britain's Military Response 152
The New Treaty System 158
8 The Crisis Within 165
Social Dislocation North and South 165
The Taiping 170
Foreign Pressures and Marx's Views 179
The Nian Rebellion 184
Muslim Revolts 189
9 Restoration through Reform 194
Confucian Reform 194
Defining Foreign Policy 199
The Missionary Presence 204
Overseas Chinese 210
10 New Tensions in the Late Qing 216
Self-Strengthening and the Japanese War 216
The Reform Movement of 1898 224
Three Sides of Nationalism 230
Emerging Forces 238
11 The End of the Dynasty 245
The Qing Constitution 245
New Railways, New Army 249
Nationalists and Socialists 256
Qing Fall 262
III Envisioning State and Society 269
12 The New Republic 275
Experiment in Democracy 275
The Rule of Yuan Shikai 281
Militarists in China and Chinese in France 288
The Political Thinking of Sun Yat-Sen 294
13 "A Road Is Made" 300
The Warning Voice of Social Darwinism 300
The Promise of Marxism 305
The Facets of May Fourth 310
The Comintern and the Birth of the Ccp 319
The Industrial Sector 325
14 The Clash 334
The Initial Alliance 334
Launching the Northern Expedition 341
Shanghai Spring 348
Wuhan Summer, Canton Winter 354
15 Experiments in Government 361
The Power Base of Chiang Kai-Shek 361
Mao Zedong and the Rural Soviets 370
China and the United States 379
China and Japan 388
China and Germany 396
16 The Drift to War 403
The Long March 403
The National Mood and Guomindang Ideology 410
Crisis at Xi'an 418
The Chinese Poor 424
IV War and Revolution 435
17 World War II 443
The Loss of East China 443
China Divided 450
Chongqing and Yan'an, 1938-1941 456
Chongqing and Yan'an in the Widening War 466
War's End 474
18 The Fall of the Guomindang State 484
The Japanese Surrender and the Marshall Mission 484
Land Reform and the Manchurian Base 491
The Losing Battle with Inflation 498
Defeat of the Guomindang Armies 504
19 The Birth of the People's Republic 514
Countryside and Town, 1949-1950 514
The Structure of the New Government 519
The Korean War 524
Mass Party, Mass Campaigns 533
20 Planning the New Society 541
The First Five-Year Plan 541
Foreign Policy and the National Minorities 551
Army Reform 557
The Hundred Flowers 563
21 Deepening the Revolution 574
The Great Leap Forward 574
The Sino-Soviet Rift 583
Political Investigation and "Socialist Education" 590
The Cult of Mao and the Critics 596
Launching the Cultural Revolution 602
Party Retrenchment and the Death of Lin Biao 609
V Living in the World 619
22 Reopening the Doors 627
The United States and the Nixon Visit 627
Attacking Confucius and Lin Biao 633
Defining the Economy, 1974-1975 639
1976: the Old Guard Dies 645
23 Redefining Revolution 653
The Four Modernizations 653
The Fifth Modernization 659
Taiwan and the Special Economic Zones 667
"Truth From Facts" 675
24 Levels of Power 683
One Billion People 683
Governing China in the 1980s 690
The Problems of Prosperity, 1983-1984 696
Rebuilding the Law 704
25 Testing the Limits 712
Emerging Tensions in 1985 712
Democracy's Chorus 719
Broadening the Base 727
Social Strains 733
The Breaking Point 738
Notes and Permissions 749
Further Readings 769
Glossary 789
About the Color Illustrations 813
Illustration Credits 817
A Note on the Calligraphy 823
Index 825
Map: China During the Late Ming 878
Map: Contemporary China 880
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