Good Books on Chinese History

Mar 2012
4
hi,

first post :)

could anyone point out for me some good books on Chinese history, particularly the early history of the country.

I've read a lot of history books, but mostly on European history so far. I like books that are well-written and take a narrative form, rather than the more 'academic' types, and I've had a hard time finding a good book on China that I think will fit the bill.

I especially like the books by the ancient historians, such as Herodotus, Livy, Thucydides, et al, and right now I'm reading The Alexiad. any chance of a similar type of book written about China?

if possible, a book written by a contemporary would be great (and translated into English). if not, a good narrative history by a modern historian.

thanks
 

DreamWeaver

Ad Honoris
Aug 2010
10,445
Wales
hi,

first post :)

could anyone point out for me some good books on Chinese history, particularly the early history of the country.

I've read a lot of history books, but mostly on European history so far. I like books that are well-written and take a narrative form, rather than the more 'academic' types, and I've had a hard time finding a good book on China that I think will fit the bill.

I especially like the books by the ancient historians, such as Herodotus, Livy, Thucydides, et al, and right now I'm reading The Alexiad. any chance of a similar type of book written about China?

if possible, a book written by a contemporary would be great (and translated into English). if not, a good narrative history by a modern historian.

thanks
Hello and welcome


Sima Qian comes to mind

[ame="http://www.amazon.co.uk/Records-Grand-Historian-Sima-Qian/dp/0231081693/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1331406996&sr=8-2"]Records of the Grand Historian: Sima Qian: Amazon.co.uk: Watson: [email protected]@[email protected]@http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/[email protected]@[email protected]@31wSaEDkW9L[/ame]
 
Mar 2012
4
^^^^thanks a lot. that looks like it will fit the bill.

any other good books on Chinese history would be welcome too.
 

Inc

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
2,608
Last edited:

Jake10

Ad Honoris
Oct 2010
11,960
Canada
I found that John Keay had a rather insulting tone throughout, personally.

Well, he's certainly not the Grand Historian, but I never thought of him as insulting. I'm not Chinese, so I guess my perspective is different, but I would like to point out that I've come across many scholars here who are very content to read about the accomplishments of China, but are very sensitive about problems in China that they read about. In any event, perhaps there is a book you would like to recommend?
 
Jan 2012
233
Well, he's certainly not the Grand Historian, but I never thought of him as insulting. I'm not Chinese, so I guess my perspective is different, but I would like to point out that I've come across many scholars here who are very content to read about the accomplishments of China, but are very sensitive about problems in China that they read about. In any event, perhaps there is a book you would like to recommend?
Well, perhaps I overstated the matter, but some of his assertions struck me as rather condescending. The opening chapters are pretty much dedicated to downplaying and/or taking the piss out of the Great Wall, the Grand Canal, the Long March and even the Giant Panda. It's quite bizarre to see such an obvious attempt to downplay the historical and cultural heritage of a country in the introductory section of an ostensibly scholarly account. I don't think one would open a book about the Ancient Romans with a rant on how overhyped Roman achievements are.

As for recommendations, I like this one:

China's Imperial Past: An Introduction to Chinese History and Culture by Charles O. Hucker