• A History of China

  • By: Hilda Hookham
  • Narrated by: Charlton Griffin
  • Length: 11 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 10-07-08
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Audio Connoisseur
  • 3.5 out of 5 stars 3.3 (128 ratings)

Regular price: $20.72

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Publisher's Summary

Trying to squeeze an entire history of Chinese civilization into a brief, one volume account is a formidable task, but one that has succeeded brilliantly here. Hilda Hookham has provided us with a concise story that, while not getting too entangled with personalities and cultural issues, manages to navigate the swirling passage of events that comprise over 3,000 years of Chinese political history. As a result, one is left with a singular impression of what Chinese civilization has meant, both as a cultural reality, and as a historical political force. It has been a tumultuous journey. Recurring themes repeat themselves in dynasty after dynasty: order and statecraft, resource allocation and use, imperialism and population growth, barbarian invasion and subjugation of outlying districts. Each dynasty right up to the current communist regime has followed similar paths. In this brilliant synthesis, we begin to see the patterns of stable government, the building up of infrastructure, reforms to help the peasantry, and reforms of government bureaucracy. Then comes the destabilizing influences of corruption, debauched court life, demands for greater taxation, failing infrastructure, famine, military revolt and invasions by barbarians. The peasants revolt, the military crumbles and a new dynasty takes control, with or without the support of foreign powers, depending on the period. Eventually, as in the case of the Mongols and the Manchurians, the barbarians end up as rulers.
Throughout all of this turmoil, the essence of Chinese civilization has endured, sometimes, as in the case of the murderous Mao regime, at the cost of millions of lives. From Confucius and Lao-Tzu to Sun Yatsen, Chang Kaishek and Mao Zedong, Chinese civilization unfolds here in this audiobook as a comprehensible and highly enjoyable summary.
©1970 Hilda Hookham (P)2008 Audio Connoisseur
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
1 out of 5 stars
By K. Doerr on 12-02-11

don't bother

I agree with the critics -- this is outdated and biased. I enjoyed reading the review from the Marxist historian who disowned this book -- evidently it doesn't even live up to the 'standards' of Marxist history. The performance is also so bad that it is almost funny.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Kimberly on 04-30-11

Audible Can Do Better Than This

After scouring the offerings for a general history of China, this seemed closest to what I sought. While it fit the general-history-of-china bill, Audible can surely offer a general history of China that is better than this. It was written decades ago and may have been a solid piece of scholarly work at the time, but I found it to be meandering and use language of otherness from which more updated histories have departed. It includes an "update" that isn't terribly satisfying or nuanced. I don't recommend it.

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19 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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3 out of 5 stars
By Bo on 01-16-10

Not up to date

Though still a useful introduction to Chinese history, this book is rather dated. The past decades has completely re-written many aspects of chinese history, and today there are so many better books available on the subject (though, apparently, not yet as audiobooks).

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 11-12-17

Fantastic review of a huge component of history

Great amount of detail on so many aspects of life. I felt immersed in each dynasty's way of life without being overwhelmed.

Did not see that ending coming! The book being completed before the atrocities of the Mao regime were made global knowledge really makes you think about the frame the author was viewing 20th century history. The appendum written a few decades later is brutal but a necessary addition.

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