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Publisher's Summary

Many nations define themselves in terms of territory or people; China defines itself in terms of history. Taking into account the country's unrivaled, voluminous tradition of history writing, John Keay has composed a vital and illuminating overview of the nation's complex and vivid past. Keay's authoritative history examines 5,000 years in China, from the time of the Three Dynasties through Chairman Mao and the current economic transformation of the country.
Crisp, judicious, and engaging, China is the classic single-volume history for anyone seeking to understand the present and future of this immensely powerful nation.
©2009 John Keay (P)2016 Tantor
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Te on 04-08-17

Beautiful story, butchering of Chinese names

Would you try another book from John Keay and/or Anne Flosnik?

I could not finish this book not because the book is poor. Keay wrote a masterful book. But the narration was just simply horrible. Flosnik has a beautiful and engaging voice, but her pronunciation of Chinese names are just wrong, at least for the Chinese audience who are fluent in Chinese. But I could envision even for non-English speakers, the pronunciation is important as they want to correctly convey the right proper nouns in their discussions.

I am quite familiar with Chinese history, but even when I know the exact person, city, or situation (proper nouns) that Keay is referring to, I still have trouble connecting the dots - name dictated in the audio to the most common Mandarin pronunciation.

Of course, I realize it's perhaps unfair to blame Flosnick. But I do blame the publisher or the recording studio. In books like this, it's far more important to find someone who can speak the local languages. Even if the rest of the English has a Chinese accent, it's still far better to pronounce the local names correctly.

What was one of the most memorable moments of China?

Difficult to tell since most of the memorable moments have Chinese names and I can barely get through them.

How could the performance have been better?

See above. Find someone who actually speaks Chinese.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment. To me, this is just another whitewash.

Any additional comments?

Avoid the audio version of this book.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful


By John on 10-16-16

Needs new narrator

While the book itself seems great, a well researched and compact history with lively prose, the narrator clearly knows no Chinese and her frequent mispronunciation of names and places makes for difficult listening. E.g. 中国 as jong gwa, 夏 as "shee-yah", 秋 as "chew" These and many more become rather grating and make it hard to take the content itself seriously. Would gladly buy the book again with a new narration

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11 of 12 people found this review helpful

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