Monday, August 6, 2012

Books on the History of China

This is a selection of titles from our wide-ranging collection of books on China’s history:

Mission to China: Matteo Ricci and the Jesuit Encounter with the East by Mary Laven. This is a new study of the life and impact of the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) and his mission to the Emperor and people of China. The first and abortive mission of the Jesuits in China started in 1551 and in 1583. Ricci and others came to Macao then Zhaoqing. Ricci's knowledge of prisms and clockmaking, his writings on friendship and philosophical subjects and his presentations of Christian doctrines are described. After his death in 1610, the Emperor Wanli granted land for a Jesuit cemetery and there is a brief mention of the controversies which then arose in Rome over Ricci the Jesuit's teachings and presentation of Christian doctrines. Index and archival illustrations.

The Scramble for China: Foreign Devils in the Qing Empire 1832-1914 by Robert Bickers. In the early 19th century China remained almost untouched by Britain and other European powers - ferocious laws forbade all trade with the West outside one tiny area of Canton. Anyone teaching a European to speak Chinese was executed. But as new technology began to unbalance the relationship, foreigners gathered like wolves around the weakening Qing Empire. Would the Chinese suffer the fate of much of the rest of the world, carved into pieces by the Europeans? Or could they adapt rapidly enough to maintain their independence? Humiliated by military disaster, racked by rebellions that cost millions of lives and ultimately invaded during the Boxer Rebellion by thousands of foreign soldiers, it looked as though the colonial Scramble for Africa was about to be followed by the Scramble for China. This extraordinary new book tells this epic story both from the European (mainly British) point of view and the Chinese. The degradation of China in this period is crucially important to understanding China today, whose government and people are steeped in stories of this terrible time and never wish to appear weak again. The Scramble for China is both highly original and brilliantly written - it reimagines these encounters between two equally arrogant and scornful civilizations, whether from the point of view of a Chinese governor or a British soldier. It is an epic of squalor, romance, brutality and exoticism, and it changed the world.

Annotated Sources of Ming History: Including Southern Ming and Works on Neighbouring Lands 1368-1661 - Vol. 1 & 2 by Wolfgang Franke. This is a completely revised and substantially enlarged edition of Wolfgang Franke's 1968 edition of An Introduction to the Sources of Ming History (ISMH). It provides annotations to almost 2,500 salient texts pertaining to the history and society of the Ming dynasty, in addition to two detailed introductions dealing with Ming historiography in general. It is an indispensable source-guide to students and researchers of Ming China and borderlands. When works are known to have been translated into other languages or made use of in Doctoral dissertations, the relevant translations and dissertations are indicated. This extensive collection of annotated sources should be of interest to historiographers as well as to those in the sphere of comparative history.

Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World: A Concise History by Rebecca E. Karl. Throughout this lively and concise historical account of Mao Zedong's life and thought, Rebecca E. Karl places the revolutionary leader's personal experiences, social visions and theory, military strategies, and developmental and foreign policies in a dynamic narrative of the Chinese revolution. She situates Mao and the revolution in a global setting informed by imperialism, decolonisation, and third worldism, and discusses worldwide trends in politics, the economy, military power, and territorial sovereignty. Karl begins with Mao's early life in a small village in Hunan province, documenting his relationships with his parents, passion for education, and political awakening during the fall of the Qing dynasty in late 1911. She traces his transition from liberal to Communist over the course of the next decade, his early critiques of the subjugation of women, and the gathering force of the May 4th movement for reform and radical change. Describing Mao's rise to power, she delves into the dynamics of Communist organising in an overwhelmingly agrarian society, and Mao's confrontations with Chiang Kaishek and other nationalist conservatives. She also considers his marriages and romantic liaisons and their relation to Mao as the revolutionary founder of Communism in China. After analyzing Mao's stormy tenure as chairman of the People's Republic of China, Karl concludes by examining his legacy in China from his death in 1976 through the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

A History of China by Roberts, J. A. G. Roberts. Third 2011 revised edition of the 1999 one-volume history of China which traces the main course of the country's development to its present burgeoning Communist structure under a technocratic leadership corps. For pre-university student or general reader. With chronology, reading lists and index.

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