A global giant in its own right, China has a rich and varied history and culture as well. From imperialist China under several dynasties to Mao’s revolutionary communism and Lu Xun’s revolutionary literature, it is worth delving into the roots of Chinese history. This will give us an insight into a very powerful country today, especially considering she is our neighbour. Here’s a list of 10 best books about Chinese history. These books are from varying time periods that will facilitate this learning about history of china.
History of China: 10 Best Books About Chinese History
- The Cultural Revolution at the Margins by Yiching Wu
- Imperial Twilight by Stephen Platt
- Oracle Bones by Peter Hessler
- A New Literary History of Modern China by David Der-wei Wang
- China Under Mao by Andrew Walder
- The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History by Rian Thum
- China from Empire to Nation State by Wang Hui
- Lu Xun’s Revolution by Gloria Davies
- History of Imperial China Series by Mark Edward Lewis
- China and the Great War by Xu Guoqi
The Cultural Revolution at the Margins by Yiching Wu
This book unearths the various implications of the Chinese Cultural Revolution of the 20th century. Wu makes a case for the reinterpretation of familiar events, especially the ideological conflicts rampant at the time. She calls for a reassessment of domination and suppression during the era.
Imperial Twilight by Stephen Platt
This book delves into an interesting and unique period in China – the Opium War. The Opium War was the result of Britishers transporting copious amounts of opium grown in India to China. The Chinese, in person and trade, became too heavily reliant on opium. In addition, there was a transfer of power and wealth from the east to the west – and a carefully strategized transfer – which this book talks about. Plus it also talks about the present implications of the same.
Oracle Bones by Peter Hessler
This is a great book to understand the dynamic Chinese history because it links the past to the present. Even as we follow four people and their experiences deeply rooted in China, we also delve into the past, which is ever present in the present. Thus Hessler seamlessly binds the ancient and the modern to create a beautiful portrait of a land.
A New Literary History of Modern China by David Der-wei Wang
This is a compilation of essays on literary traditions in China, by both Chinese and non-Chinese literary critics. This offers a global view of literature from the eye of the native and the non-native, while also informing us of history and culture through literature.
China Under Mao by Andrew Walder
This book is a study of China and its people during the radical reign of Mao. The revolutionary’s ideology reached even India during the Naxalite movement. This is a succinct portrayal, replete with objective facts and humane consequences of the most tumultuous period of Chinese history.
The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History by Rian Thum
In this very specific exploration of history, Thum looks at the history of the Muslim Chinese, Xinjiang, during the three centuries preceding the Cultural Revolution. This is a humanistic perspective to tradition and technology of a cultural minority.
China from Empire to Nation State by Wang Hui
This massive project maps the rich Chinese history from the time of its dynasties to the communist nation state that it is today. It is a brilliant and expansive work which abridges the vast history of China and makes it palatable to all readers.
Lu Xun’s Revolution by Gloria Davies
Lu Xun was a towering literary figure in China whose influence extends beyond literature to various other aspects of Chinese thought and culture. This book analysis his life and work, including the violent and tumultuous period in which he wrote, giving insight into a national history through the lens of literature.
History of Imperial China Series by Mark Edward Lewis
This six volume history is perhaps the most mammoth and immersive chronicling of the rich ancient Chinese history. Each book delves into the rule of a specific dynasty, giving an in depth understanding of the imperial oriental history. It talks of the Qin and Han, Northern and Southern, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties in detail.
China and the Great War by Xu Guoqi
This book explores a much forgotten aspect of Chinese history – its role in the First World War. Using the extensive archives of several countries, this book tackles the big questions – why did China enter the war and what were the ramifications?