China: A New History

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9780674116702: China: A New History

Bringing to bear 60 years of research, travel, and teaching, Fairbank weaves a detailed history that reaches from China's neolithic days to its troubled present. He depicts a country ever-changing and yet constant in its effort to achieve a cohesive identity, an enormous and enormously complex nation perpetually balancing between the imperatives of force and the power of ideas. Here are the Chinese autocrats in their various times and guises, maintaining Confucian civility and order through - paradoxically - the perpetual threat of irrational imperial violence. Here is the intellectual class, revered for its wisdom and counsel and yet - as events from the Cultural Revolution to the massacre in Tiananmen Square demonstrate - eminently expendable. And here are China's farmers engaged in a never-ending backbreaking attempt to tame their temperamental countryside only to face repeated famine as China's agrarian-based economy fails to develop. At the centre of all stands the Chinese family, until recently the model for both obedience and tyranny in society at large. Fairbank traces the growth of a civilization that could embrace so many contradictions and disruptions and yet retain a strong sense of its identity. Following China's ambivalent relations with the West and with the forces of modernization, he identifies, even in the great leap forward signaled by the Communist Revolution, the assumptions that have informed Chinese society for thousands of years. From the influences of Buddhism through the flowering of Song China to the reforms of Deng Xiaoping, this illustrated history unfolds in the style thst is quintessentially Fairbank.

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About the Author:

John King Fairbank was Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History and Director of the East Asian Research Center at Harvard University.

From Library Journal:

No American scholar of China was better known to the public and academia alike than Fairbank. This history of China, completed two days before his death in 1991, is a fitting final work. In covering the breadth of the country's history, from the earliest archaeological records to the present, the author is occasionally short on details, but lay readers and undergraduate students will appreciate the perceptive analysis and explanation throughout, leading to a better understanding of this complex nation, its people, and its importance in the world. Furthermore, Fairbank's command of recent research, along with an excellent bibliography, will appeal to the scholarly audience. Highly recommended. History Book Club selection.
- Kenneth W. Berger, Duke Univ. Lib., Durham, N.C.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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