The Story of China: The Epic History of a World Power from the Middle Kingdom to Mao and the China Dream

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The clearest introduction to this inclusive history of China appears on page one hundred thirty-three: ‘It is an extraordinary fact, …. that in the modern Western world an idea has taken root that China has been a monolithic and unchanging civilization, inward-looking and resistant to outside influence.’ Michael Wood chronicles the saga of China’s cultural, political, economic, and social history, launching the account with a series of rulers, natural disasters, and wars.

By any definition, The Story of China is beyond a sourcebook, but rather a gestalt, a collection of remarkable features unified in a single text. So how do we delve into this treasure chest? A ‘Once upon a time…” approach does no justice to the giants and so-called ordinary people, men and women both, whose contributions in politics and poetry, invention, and trading defy any attempt to pigeon-hole.

The series of maps prefacing the book shows how in 221 BCE, under the rule of Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, the country took a single identity and the geography of the country expanded. Three series of illustrations assemble traditional paintings and photographs, images from the distant past to the twenty-first century.

In 1974, an extraordinary army of terracotta soldiers introduced a China beyond the Yellow River and the Yangtze, to the transformation from successive dynasties to a Republic. Wood recounts chapters to be enjoyed in limited doses or risk the old cartoon where a teacher is declaiming to his class and a young boy raises his hand to protest: Sir, my brain is full!’

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Author Michael Wood
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 624 pages
Publisher St. Martin's Press
Publish Date 2020-Nov-17
ISBN 9781250202574 Buy this Book
Issue February 2021
Category History