A panoramic survey of China’s rise and resilience through war and rebellion, disease and famine, that rewrites China’s history for a new generation.
It is tempting to attribute China’s recent ascendance to changes in political leadership and economic policy. Making China Modern teaches otherwise. Moving beyond the standard framework of Cold War competition and national resurgence, Klaus Mühlhahn situates twenty-first-century China in the nation’s long history of creative adaptation.
In the mid-eighteenth century, when the Qing Empire reached the height of its power, China dominated a third of the world’s population and managed its largest economy. But as the Opium Wars threatened the nation’s sovereignty from without and the Taiping Rebellion ripped apart its social fabric from within, China found itself verging on free fall. A network of family relations, economic interdependence, institutional innovation, and structures of governance allowed citizens to regain their footing in a convulsing world. In China’s drive to reclaim regional centrality, its leaders looked outward as well as inward, at industrial developments and international markets offering new ways to thrive.
This dynamic legacy of overcoming adversity and weakness is apparent today in China’s triumphsbut also in its most worrisome trends. Telling a story of crisis and recovery, Making China Modern explores the versatility and resourcefulness that matters most to China’s survival, and to its future possibilities.
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About the Author
Klaus Mühlhahn is Professor of Chinese History and Culture and Vice President at the Free University of Berlin. His Criminal Justice in China: A History won the John K. Fairbank Prize in East Asian History from the American Historical Association. Mühlhahn has published widely on modern Chinese history in English, German, and Chinese and is a frequent commentator on China for the German media.
Table of Contents
Timeline: China, 1644-2017 ix
List of Maps xiii
Part 1 The Rise and Fall of Qing China 21
1 Age of Glory: 1644-1800 25
2 Reordering the Chinese World: 1800-1870 85
3 Late Qing Predicaments: 1870-1900 153
Part 2 Chinese Revolutions 203
4 Upending the Empire: 1900-1919 209
5 Rebuilding during the Republican Era: 1920-1937 248
6 China at War: 1937-1948 298
Part 3 Remaking China 353
7 Socialist Transformation: 1949-1953 359
8 Leaping Ahead: 1955-1960 408
9 Overthrowing Everything: 1961-1976 448
Part 4 China Rising 487
10 Reform and Opening: 1977-1989 491
11 Overall Advance: 1990-2012 527
12 Ambitions and Anxieties: Contemporary China 560