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A Brief History of China: Dynasty, Revolution and Transformation: From the Middle Kingdom to the People's Republic

Jonathan Clements



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12 November 2019
History; Asian history
For millennia, China was the largest and richest nation on earth. Two centuries ago, however, its economy sank into a depression from which it had not fully recovered-until now. China's modern resurgence as the world's largest nation in terms of population and its second-largest economy - where 800 million people have been lifted out of poverty in the space of a few decades-is the greatest untold story of the 21st century.

A Brief History of China tells of the development of a rich and complex civilisation where the use of paper, writing, money and gunpowder were widespread in ancient times and where silk, ceramics, tea, metal implements and other products were produced and exported around the globe. It examines the special conditions that allowed a single culture to unify an entire continent spanning 10 billion square kilometres under the rule of a single man-and the unbelievably rich artistic, literary and architectural heritage that Chinese culture has bequeathed to the world. Equally fascinating is the story of China's decline in the 19th and early 20th century - as Europeans and Americans took centre-stage - and its modern resurgence as an economic powerhouse in recent years.

Today China is a land of gleaming skyscrapers and expressways with the world's largest consumer economy, its biggest network of high-speed trains and a digital infrastructure second to none. But China is also beset by problems - a seemingly homogenous culture with 55 ethnic minorities and a top-down political system where checks and balances are largely absent.

Clements goes back 5000 years, and even brings readers through to the present day, outlining China's economic renaissance under Deng Xiaoping and Xi Jinping. Often seen in the West in black or white terms-as either a savage dystopia or a fantastical paradise - China is revealed in the book as an exceptional yet troubled nation that nevertheless warrants its self-description as the Middle Kingdom.
By:   Jonathan Clements
Imprint:   Tuttle
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 203mm,  Width: 133mm, 
ISBN:   9780804850056
ISBN 10:   0804850054
Pages:   352
Publication Date:   12 November 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Jonathan Clements is the author of Christ's Samurai: The True Story of the Shimabara Rebellion, A Brief History of the Samurai, Modern Japan: All That Matters, Anime: A History and biographies of Admiral Togo and Prince Saionji Kinmochi. In 2016 he became the presenter of Route Awakening (National Geographic) a TV series on historical icons of Chinese culture.

Reviews for A Brief History of China: Dynasty, Revolution and Transformation: From the Middle Kingdom to the People's Republic

A go-to guide for anyone seeking to get up to speed on China quickly. With a focus on memorable characters and stories, A Brief History of China is ideal for tourists, students and businesspeople looking to understand this emerging superpower. -Julie Makinen, former China Bureau Chief, Los Angeles Times ...a powerful, engaging and balanced account of the vast span of China's history...The reader can approach this book with confidence and-thanks to its well-chosen reading recommendations-use it as a springboard for deeper engagement with China, its culture and its people. -Ellis Tinios, Honorary Lecturer in East Asian History, University of Leeds Clements' spare prose, bad-boy wit and encyclopedic knowledge of Asian facts, gossip and trivia put paid to any misgivings about uttering 'history' and 'page-turner' in the same breath. This succinct chronicle of China's rise to global power is essential reading for businessmen, politicians and creatives. -J. Christopher Westland, Author of Red Wired: China's Internet Revolution and Overseas Chair Professor / Thousand-Talents Plan Scholar at Beihang University A Brief History of China is a pacy romp through China's long and layered history that successfully walks the tightrope of the scholarly and the entertaining. In brisk, engaging prose, Clements covers this book's vast territory with authority. -Pallavi Aiyar, Author of Smoke and Mirrors: An Experience of China Where was this book a decade ago, when I landed in China and needed a crash course on the country and the culture? With humor, respect, and a deft hand, Clements simplifies the complicated politics of 5,000 years of history and makes it accessible. He highlights and humanizes the most formative events and the people involved, so as not to overwhelm readers, and gives us insight into how events that happened long ago still resonate today. -Alicia Noel, Founder & CEO, Cultivati Inc. Clements tackles more than 5,000 years of Chinese history in an agile but comprehensible narrative of the Heavenly Kingdom. Useful for the general reader, the book has special value for the business person looking to understand the single largest commercial market in the world. -Alfonso Asensio, Author of World Wide Data and Chief Kickboxing Officer Clements brings to light the voices of the hidden and the marginalised, through snapshots of real people, and readings between the lines of poetry, historical records, and contemporary literature. He pays particular attention to women, uncovering their often-buried impact on China's past, and...takes China's history back to its diverse human core, immersing booklovers in a vast cast of characters and a gripping narrative, effortlessly easy to enjoy. -Roxy Simons, AllTheAnime Jonathan Clements' deep knowledge of the subject and his lively, entertaining style are here combined to produce something quite remarkable: a history that is indeed brief and yet surprisingly comprehensive. Somehow, as you are carried along on the tide of his absorbing narrative, you are convinced that nothing meaningful has been left out. Here is China in all its glory. -Stephen Turnbull, Author of The Great Wall of China

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