A History of China

  • by Hilda Hookham
  • Narrated by Charlton Griffin
  • 11 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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I agree with the critics -- this is outdated and biased.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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- K. Doerr

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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- Kimberly

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-07-2008
  • Publisher: Audio Connoisseur