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Publisher's Summary

A Brief History of China tells of the development of a rich and complex civilization 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 kilometers 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 center stage - and its modern resurgence as an economic powerhouse in recent years.   

In his retelling of a Chinese history stretching back 5,000 years, author and China-expert Jonathan Clements focuses on the human stories which led to the powerful transformations in Chinese society - from the unification of China under its first emperor, Qinshi Huangdi, to the Mongol invasion under Genghis Khan and the consolidation of Communist rule under Mao Zedong. Clements even brings listeners through to the present day, outlining China's economic renaissance under Deng Xiaoping and Xi Jinping.

©2019 Jonathan Clements (P)2019 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about A Brief History of China

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Succinct and detailed overview of a huge topic

The book does a great job of outlining the major periods of history in China from ancient to modern. Importantly, it also provides small vignettes with details about what life was like for a person in those eras. This makes it much easier to understand the context of the larger historical changes. "Brief" is an accurate description as there is too much material to cover any topic in depth.

I was particularly impressed at how the book uses archaeological and climatological evidence to support historical political changes. The Further Reading section at the end details the sources that the author drew from. It's clear that the author is quite knowledgeable about the field, and I found the writing style far more gripping than a lecture. I think this book is a great introduction to any of the topics within.

The narration was pleasant and easy to follow. I had to turn the speed down from my usual 1.3 to 1.0 as it proceeds at a good pace. I believe this is more a quality of the succinct writing than the narration speed.

3 people found this helpful

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Great Story, Painful and Distracting Narration

The story is great, it’s an excellent comprehensive book of the history of China, but the narrator’s absolute butchery of the Chinese language is wildly distracting from the story being told. If he was going to spend countless hours recording and editing a story with lots of Chinese words and names, why on earth could they not have given him a 10-min crash course on basic Chinese pronunciation??

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Fantastic, harmonized

Loved this, don’t read much history but this had me captivated all the way through. I thought I’d stop listening before the communists because I was mostly interested in the old stuff, but it turns out the ending was most exciting of all! Gave us a true experience of China’s control over anything written in it or - apparently - about it.

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  • DM
  • 08-01-20

Enjoyable

Interesting and enjoyable whistlestop tour through Chinese history - perfect for a beginner like me. Well narrated.

1 person found this helpful

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  • JTH
  • 03-31-20

fresh and insightful take on Chinese history.

An insightful and refreshing take - bringing in new scholarship on women and climate, and an occasional wry sense of humour. Recommended. Esp. as an audio-book.

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  • yana zelinger
  • 09-01-20

Boring book

Through the second chapter, can’t grasp the point
Narrative is not clear, more philosophy then history