Book description

Book info

Author
Title
eBook formatHardcover, (torrent)En
PublisherHarperCollins Publishers
File size5.5 Mb
GanreHistory
Release date 01.07.2008
ISBN9780007221776
Pages count512
Book rating4.57 (440 votes)
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If the documented history of China is approximately four thousand years this book will give you eight years per page.The Cambridge History of China runs to twenty incomplete volumes so how can such a short book possibly give any insights into the Chinese mentality and its history?

The simple answer is very easily.John Keay gives a glorious overview of the genesis and development of China with its multiple regime changes and the role of Confucianism throughout all of the turmoil up to, and including, the present day.Each Dynasty has its heroes, villains and key events which he uses to explain the impact of changing dynasties.This is not a book full of dates and events but much more an assessment of the Chinese character and mindset.A knowledgeable Sinophile once told me that to understand the China of the twenty-first century you had to be acquainted with the Analects written three thousand years ago. The impact of this thinking is demonstrated time and time again and the veneration of the Emperor's role, if not his persona, is paramount.

The style of writing is superb. Many histories can be difficult to read due to dry style and an expected level of knowledge before you start.Not so with John Keay.His style is lucid and literate, witty and whimsical and is, overall, a joy to read.If you are interested in China as a historian, a traveller or a public house pundit this book is a must read.If it has any deficits it is in the quality of its timelines and maps which may have lost something in the font reduction from hard to paper back.But this is me being really picky, finding fault with what is an otherwise superb piece of writing.I hope his other books live up to this standard and I look forward to finding out.

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