China's past is key to the modern world. This nimble history of rogues, revolutions and rebellions can be read in a day, but will transform your view for a lifetime.
From kung-fu to tofu, tea to trade routes, sages to silk, China has influenced cuisine, commerce, military strategy, aesthetics and philosophy across the world for thousands of years.
Chinese history is sprawling and gloriously messy. It is full of heroes who are also villains, prosperous ages and violent rebellions, cultural vibrancy and censorious impulses, rebels, loyalists, dissidents and wits. The story of women in China, from the earliest warriors to twentieth-century suffragettes, is rarely told. And historical spectres of corruption and disunity, which have brought down many a mighty ruling house, continue to haunt the People's Republic today.
Modern China is seen variously as an economic powerhouse, an icon of urbanisation, a propaganda state or an aggressive superpower seeking world domination. Linda Jaivin distils a vast history into a short, readable account that tells you what you need to know, from China's philosophical origins to its political system, to the COVID-19 pandemic and where the PRC is likely to lead the world.