China A History and other books about China
China A History|
Many nations define themselves in terms of territory or people; China defines itself in terms of history.
With the world’s longest tradition of history-writing, its extraordinary past ought to be common knowledge.
China, by the eminent historian John Keay, should make it so.
Informed by the latest research and enlivened by wit and anecdote, Keay’s narrative spans 5,000 years,
from the Three Dynasties (2000–220 BC) to Deng Xiaoping’s opening of China and the past three decades of
economic growth. Broadly chronological, the book presents a history of all the Chinas—including regions
(Yunnan, Tibet, Xinjiang, Mongolia, Manchuria) that account for two-thirds of the People’s Republic of
China land mass but which barely feature in its conventional history.
Crisp, judicious, and engaging, China is destined to become the classic single-volume history for
anyone seeking to understand the past, present, and future of this immensely powerful nation.
Route 312 is the Chinese Route 66. It flows three thousand miles from east to west, passing
through the factory towns of the coastal areas, through the rural heart of China, then up into the
Gobi Desert, where it merges with the Old Silk Road. The highway witnesses every part of the social
and economic revolution that is turning China upside down.
In this utterly surprising and deeply personal book, acclaimed National Public Radio reporter
Rob Gifford, a fluent Mandarin speaker, takes the dramatic journey along Route 312 from its start
in the boomtown of Shanghai to its end on the border with Kazakhstan. Gifford reveals the rich
mosaic of modern Chinese life in all its contradictions, as he poses the crucial questions that
all of us are asking about China: Will it really be the next global superpower? Is it as solid and
as powerful as it looks from the outside? And who are the ordinary Chinese people, to whom the
twenty-first century is supposed to belong?
Gifford is not alone on his journey. The largest migration in human history is taking place along
highways such as Route 312, as tens of millions of people leave their homes in search of work. He
sees signs of the booming urban economy everywhere, but he also uncovers many of the country’s frailties,
and some of the deep-seated problems that could derail China’s rise.
The whole compelling adventure is told through the cast of colorful characters Gifford meets:
garrulous talk-show hosts and ambitious yuppies, impoverished peasants and tragic prostitutes,
cell-phone salesmen, AIDS patients, and Tibetan monks. He rides with members of a Shanghai
jeep club, hitchhikes across the Gobi desert, and sings karaoke with migrant workers at truck stops along the way.
As he recounts his travels along Route 312, Rob Gifford gives a face to what has historically, for
Westerners, been a faceless country and breathes life into a nation that is so often reduced to
economic statistics. Finally, he sounds a warning that all is not well in the Chinese heartlands,
that serious problems lie ahead, and that the future of the West has become inextricably linked
with the fate of 1.3 billion Chinese people.