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A History of China

ISBN: 978-1-55786-078-1
452 pages
September 2013, Wiley-Blackwell
A History of China (1557860785) cover image

Capturing China’s past in all its complexity, this multi-faceted history portrays China in the context of a larger global world, while incorporating the narratives of Chinese as well as non-Chinese ethnic groups and discussing people traditionally left out of the story—peasants, women, merchants, and artisans.

 

  • Offers a complete political, economic, social, and cultural history of China, covering the major events and trends
  • Written in a clear and uncomplicated style by a distinguished historian with over four decades of experience teaching undergraduates
  • Examines Chinese history through the lens of global history to better understand how foreign influences affected domestic policies and practices
  • Depicts the role of non-Chinese ethnic groups in China, such as Tibetans and Uyghurs, and analyzes the Mongol and Manchu rulers and their impact on Chinese society
  • Incorporates the narratives of people traditionally left out of Chinese history, including women, peasants, merchants, and artisans
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Series Editor’s Preface xi

Preface xv

Acknowledgments xix

List of Illustrations xxi

List of Maps xxv

A Note on Romanization xxvi

PART I CHINA AMONG “BARBARIANS” 1

1 Early History, to 1027 bce 3

Land and Settlement 3

Early Mankind 5

Agricultural Revolution in the Neolithic Era 6

Xia: The First Dynasty? 12

The Shang and the Origins of Chinese Civilization 16

Oracle Bones 17

Ritual Objects as Historical Sources 19

Shang Society 21

Notes 23

Further Reading 24

2 Classical China, 1027–256 bce 25

“Feudalism”? 25

Changes in Social Structure 31

Political Instability in the Eastern Zhou 31

Transformations in the Economy 35

Hundred Schools of Thought 36

Daoism 38

Popular Religions 41

Confucianism 42

Mohism 48

Legalism 50

Book of Odes and Book of Documents 53

Secularization of Arts 56

Notes 57

Further Reading 57

3 The First Chinese Empires, 221 bce–220 ce 59

Development of the Qin State 61

Qin Achievements 63

Failures of the Qin 66

Han and New Institutions 70

Han Foreign Relations 73

Emperor Wu’s Domestic Policies and Their Ramifications 78

Wang Mang: Reformer or Usurper? 81

Restoration of a Weaker Han Dynasty 82

Spiritual and Philosophical Developments in the Han 86

Han Literature and Art 89

Further Reading 96

4 Chaos and Religious and Political Responses, 220–581 97

Three Kingdoms 97

Rise of South China 100

Foreigners and North China 102

Northern Wei 104

Spiritual Developments, Post-Han 109

Buddhism Enters China 110

Literature, Science, and the Arts in a Period of Division 116

Notes 121

Further Reading 121

PART II CHINA AMONG EQUALS 123

5 Restoration of Empire under Sui and Tang, 581–907 125

Sui: First Step in Restoration 127

Disastrous Foreign Campaigns 132

Origins of the Tang 133

Taizong: The Greatest Tang Emperor 135

Tang Expansionism 137

Irregular Successions and the Empress Wu 139

Tang Cosmopolitanism 142

Arrival of Foreign Religions 144

Glorious Tang Arts 151

Decline of the Tang 153

Tang Faces Rebellions 157

Uyghur Empire and Tang 158

Tang’s Continuing Decline 160

Suppression of Buddhism 162

Final Collapse 164

Efflorescence of Tang Culture 166

Notes 171

Further Reading 171

6 Post-Tang Society and the Glorious Song, 907–1279 173

Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms 173

Song: A Lesser Empire 177

A New Song Elite 179

Neo-Confucianism: A New Philosophy 182

Attempts at Reform 183

Women and the Song 188

The Khitans and the Liao Dynasty 190

Expansion of Khitan Territory 192

Preservation of Khitan Identity 192

Fall of the Liao 194

Xia and Jin: Two Foreign Dynasties 195

Song Arts 197

Southern Song Economic and Cultural Sophistication and Political Instability 202

Notes 206

Further Reading 206

PART III CHINA AND THE MONGOL WORLD 209

7 Mongol Rule in China, 1234–1368 211

Rise of Chinggis Khan 213

Legacy of Chinggis Khan 215

Expansion and Early Rule of Empire 215

Sorghaghtani Beki, Möngke, and Khubilai 217

Unification of China 218

Khubilai’s Policies 219

Multiethnic and Multireligious China 220

Khubilai and Chinese Culture 222

Decline of the Yuan 226

Legacy of the Mongols 229

Notes 231

Further Reading 231

8 Ming: Isolationism and Involvement in the World, 1368–1644 233

A More Powerful State 236

Opening to the Outside World 240

A Costly Failure 244

Conspicuous Consumption 245

Arts in the Ming 246

Neo-Confucianism: School of the Mind 251

A Few Unorthodox Thinkers 253

Ming Literature 254

Buddhism: New Developments 258

Social Development and Material Culture 259

Violence in the Sixteenth Century 261

Fall of the Ming Dynasty 263

Further Reading 267

PART IV CHINA IN GLOBAL HISTORY 269

9 Early Qing: A Manchu Dynasty, 1644–1860 271

Preserving Manchu Identity 275

Kangxi and the Height of the Qing 275

Western Arrival 276

Jesuits in China 278

Expansion of China 280

Qing Cultural Developments 284

Qing Faces Economic Problems 287

Stirrings of Discontent 289

The Western Challenge 290

Opium Wars 293

Explanations for the Decline of the Qing 298

Further Reading 299

10 Late Qing, 1860–1911 301

Nian and Other Minor Rebellions 302

Taiping Rebellion 303

Other Rebellions 307

Foreign Threats 311

Differing Court Responses to Challenges 313

Antiforeign Acts and Foreign Reactions 317

Losses in Southwest China 319

Japan Emerges 320

Sino–Japanese Conflict 321

Scramble for Concessions and US Response 323

China Humiliated and the Reformers 324

Boxer Movement 326

Court Reforms 329

Fall of the Qing 331

Notes 332

Further Reading 332

11 The Republican Period, 1911–1949 333

The 1911 Revolution and Its Aftermath 335

Warlords in Power 337

The May Fourth Movement and Intellectuals in

the Post-First World War Period 340

Communist Party 343

Rise of Chiang Kai-shek 346

Guomindang Dominance 349

Communist Party Revival 354

Long March and Aftermath 356

The Sino–Japanese War 358

The Pacific War, the Communists, and the Guomindang 361

Civil War in China 364

Further Reading 366

12 The Communist Era in China, 1949 Onwards 369

Early Pacification of Border Areas 371

Early Foreign Relations 374

Recovery from Wars 376

Cracks in the Communist World 380

Great Leap Forward 382

Return to Pragmatism 385

An Isolated China 386

Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution 387

China Reopens Its Doors 390

Dramatic Changes and Modernization 395

Tiananmen Disturbance of 1989 and Its Aftermath 398

The Present Status of China 403

Further Reading 412

Index 413

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Morris Rossabi is Distinguished Professor of History at City University of New York and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University.  Born in Alexandria, Egypt, he received a Ph.D. in Chinese and Central Asian History at Columbia University.  He is the author of many books on Asian history, including Modern Mongolia: From Khans to Commissars to Capitalists (2005), Khubilai Khan: His Life and Times (1988 and 2009), and Voyager from Xanadu: Rabban Sauma and the First Journey from China to the West (1992).  Formerly Chair of the Arts and Cultures Board of the Open Society Institute, he has collaborated on exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Art. 

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  • Offers a complete political, economic, social, and cultural history of China, covering the major events and trends
  • Written in a clear and uncomplicated style by a distinguished historian with over four decades of experience teaching undergraduates
  • Examines Chinese history through the lens of global history to better understand how foreign influences affected domestic policies and practices
  • Depicts the role of non-Chinese ethnic groups in China, such as Tibetans and Uyghurs, and analyzes the Mongol and Manchu rulers and their impact on Chinese society
  • Incorporates the narratives of people traditionally left out of Chinese history, including women, peasants, merchants, and artisans
See More

"Rossabi is one of the most authoritative scholars of Chinese and eastern Eurasian history. This book—big enough to provide the depth missing in many teaching texts, concise enough to keep long-term connections and narrative coherence at the reader's fingertips, erudite enough to assess China's experience in the context of neighboring and competing empires—is one of his masterworks."
Pamela Kyle Crossley, Dartmouth College, USA author of The Wobbling Pivot: China since 1800

"This is a vivid picture, crammed with always relevant and frequently striking detail, of the many transformations of an interactive China. It is an essential resource for students and scholars of Chinese history and world history."
John E. Wills, Jr., University of Southern California

As China’s position in the world has grown in recent decades, so has demand for histories of this fascinating culture. Morris Rossabi places China in its global and historical context and presents the reader with a comprehensive understanding of a China in the World.
Ralph Kauz,University of Bonn

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