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From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History | [The Great Courses]

From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History

For most of its 5,000-year existence, China has been the largest, most populous, wealthiest, and mightiest nation on Earth. And for us as Westerners, it is essential to understand where China has been in order to anticipate its future. These 36 eye-opening lectures deliver a comprehensive political and historical overview of one of the most fascinating and complex countries in world history.You'll learn about the powerful dynasties that ruled China for centuries; the philosophical and religious foundations-particularly Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism-that have influenced every iteration of Chinese thought, and the larger-than-life personalities, from both inside and outside its borders, of those who have shaped China's history. As you listen to these lectures, you'll see how China's politics, economics, and art reflect the forces of its past.From the "Mandate of Heaven," a theory of social contract in place by 1500 B.C.E., 3,000 years before Western philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, to the development of agriculture and writing independent of outside influence to the technologically-advanced Han Dynasty during the time of the Roman Empire, this course takes you on a journey across ground that has been largely unexplored in the history courses most of us in the West have taken.In guiding you through the five millennia of China's history, Professor Hammond tells a fascinating story with an immense scope, a welcome reminder that China is no stranger to that stage and, indeed, has more often than not been the most extraordinary player on it.
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Publisher's Summary

For most of its 5,000-year existence, China has been the largest, most populous, wealthiest, and mightiest nation on Earth. And for us as Westerners, it is essential to understand where China has been in order to anticipate its future. These 36 eye-opening lectures deliver a comprehensive political and historical overview of one of the most fascinating and complex countries in world history.

You'll learn about the powerful dynasties that ruled China for centuries; the philosophical and religious foundations-particularly Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism-that have influenced every iteration of Chinese thought, and the larger-than-life personalities, from both inside and outside its borders, of those who have shaped China's history. As you listen to these lectures, you'll see how China's politics, economics, and art reflect the forces of its past.

From the "Mandate of Heaven," a theory of social contract in place by 1500 B.C.E., 3,000 years before Western philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, to the development of agriculture and writing independent of outside influence to the technologically - advanced Han Dynasty during the time of the Roman Empire, this course takes you on a journey across ground that has been largely unexplored in the history courses most of us in the West have taken.

In guiding you through the five millennia of China's history, Professor Hammond tells a fascinating story with an immense scope, a welcome reminder that China is no stranger to that stage and, indeed, has more often than not been the most extraordinary player on it.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.

©2004 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2004 The Great Courses

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (239 )
5 star
 (103)
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4.3 (200 )
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Story
4.0 (202 )
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 (81)
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 (69)
3 star
 (35)
2 star
 (12)
1 star
 (5)
Performance
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  •  
    Travis Greene Monroe, NC 10-10-13
    Travis Greene Monroe, NC 10-10-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A good listen"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes because it is a great crash course to Chinese history and seems to cover all of the main events.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Professor Kenneth J. Hammond?

    That depends on the subject. He wasn't a particularly great story teller and didn't really make the subject come to life. I was interested in most of the lectures so I could pay attention, but occasionally he would dwell on some less interesting topics and I would lose interest.


    Any additional comments?

    I certainly enjoyed the audiobook but it was not one I could listen to for hours at a time because the Professor was not very energized. I was also disappointed that he did not talk about the building of the Great Wall at all. However, it was a great introduction/overview of Chinese History.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David ALEXANDRIA, VA, United States 10-03-13
    David ALEXANDRIA, VA, United States 10-03-13 Member Since 2012
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    9
    ratings
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    5
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    Story
    "Good broad brush information"
    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    The professors speach candence was too slow for me. I had to play the entire thing on 2x speed for it to be tolerable.


    Any additional comments?

    Great information overall with some solid broad brush coverage of the subject. I would have liked to have gotten more details in a number of places, but that would have made it too long.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saud 12-03-13
    Saud 12-03-13

    Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    ratings
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    284
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    "Rich in Content and Substance"

    China is one of the most interesting and long-running civilizations in the world. This course covers the history of the Kingdoms before the Chinese unification, and move us through a rich history with colorful characters all the way to the twentieth century. I strongly recommend it for interesting presentation and thoroughness.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike 11-13-13
    Mike 11-13-13
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    "A great overview of Chinese History"
    Any additional comments?

    This was a very thorough and enjoyable overview of Chinese history. The professor does a great job touching on many important subjects and nuances in Chinese history, including even an overview of Chinese geography, which I think is essential for understanding the history of any country. Like all history it can become a little dry or hard to remember or distinguish all the different peoples and dynasties at some points. I would highly recommend these lectures to anyone looking for a good, thorough overview of Chinese history from the earliest times to the near present.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Cambridge, New Zealand 10-15-13
    Mark Cambridge, New Zealand 10-15-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
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    27
    3
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    "Broad Overview of China's history"

    For someone living and working in China, this course was interesting and informative. It gives only a broad overview of China's history and is really a starting point for those interested in China's history. The professor presented the lectures well, and held my attention.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    KEITH Canyon Country, CA, United States 03-30-14
    KEITH Canyon Country, CA, United States 03-30-14 Member Since 2010

    I have been listening to books on tape for over 20 years. Starting with audio tapes, then CD's and now downloads.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A long and deep culture"
    Where does From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It is in the upper part of my list. I have been a teaching company listener for years with over 50 series of lectures. I knew very little of China and now have scratched the surface


    What was one of the most memorable moments of From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History?

    The Opium Wars compared Britain to a current drug cartel using violence to control the movement of drugs. It is such an interesting and awful mark on the west.


    Which character – as performed by Professor Kenneth J. Hammond – was your favorite?

    I learned a lot about Buddhism and the other religions of China, which I knew next to nothing about


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No, it is so good and rich I tried to listen to no more than two lectures at a sitting.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David 05-25-15
    David 05-25-15 Member Since 2014
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    "A great overview of Chines History"
    What did you love best about From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History?

    This is a long listen, but well worth. Prof (hammond is an articulate, erudite and engaging speaker and he has the enviable ability to summarise complex events clearly so you can follow along and not get distracted.

    His strong grasp of the subject provides lots of hints for further reading and study, if thats what you want to do.

    So if you are looking for a 50,00ft overview of Chinese history I highly recommend this.

    Note - there are no chapter marks in this audiobook - you have to be careful to bookmark it yourself else its easy to get lost


    What did you like best about this story?

    The breadth of the subject, the engaging manner of delivery.


    Any additional comments?

    It would be good if the interval between lectures did not have the music and dinky appluase. Once is ok - but 20+ times gets old quickly

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dr Stewart Nicol Hobart, Tas Australia 05-22-15
    Dr Stewart Nicol Hobart, Tas Australia 05-22-15 Member Since 2013
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    3
    3
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    Performance
    Story
    "Dreadful presentation"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A good lecturer


    Would you be willing to try another one of Professor Kenneth J. Hammond’s performances?

    No


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

    Very disappointed


    Any additional comments?

    This lecturer is totally unsuited to audiobook lectures. His lecturing voice is poor, his vowels often ear-damaging, and his mannerisms annoying - so many mmm-Okays that he sounds like Mr Mackey from South Park. Is he trying to do this without any notes? He hesitates, forgets where he is, ums, ahs, and frequently uses the wrong word. The content was not organised in such a way that I was able to get much of an overview. A great disappointment. It compares very unfavourably with the wonderful content and presentation by Richard Baum in the Fall & Rise of China

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ergai Ta 05-13-15
    Ergai Ta 05-13-15 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A good, brief overview of Chinese history"

    The lecturer is very knowledgeable and provides a good way to understand China and its culture. However he did make a few simple mistakes, which I assume is because he's not a native speaker of the language. Overall still very good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    solcoman 05-01-15
    solcoman 05-01-15 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    Story
    "Glossed over history"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    No. It needs more details.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    Chinese history is so colorful and fascinating. This history does not do it proper justice.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Not so much


    Was From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History worth the listening time?

    For a very brief glossed over summation please listen


    Any additional comments?

    Read Jung Chang for a more thorough history with all the dirty details.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • A Customer
    Oxford
    9/29/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful set of lectures"
    Where does From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This set of lectures was definitely one of the best I have listened to. Really engaging, the lecturer covers an incredible range of eras in these lectures. One of the best things about it for me was that it give you an in depth outline of how each of the Chinese dynasties fits in with the other, which then enables you to read into which ever one interests you the most without feeling totally lost (the Harvard UP set on Chinese Imperialism is particularly good for this).


    What was one of the most memorable moments of From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History?

    All of the lectures were really well put together, though perhaps a couple of the most memorable were the ones on the ancient civilisations and the evolution of the writing system, simply because it speaks to the origin of language itself, which is always fascinating. The other is probably when Wu Sangui opened the gates of the Great Wall at Shanhai Pass letting the Qing forces through, then allying his forces to help them take the capital at Beijing. Wu did all this mainly so that he could ensure that the recent usurper of the Ming throne, Li Zicheng, didn't take the woman he loved into his harem. Dramatic events!


    What does Professor Kenneth J. Hammond bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    The lecturer was really good, in all honesty I listened to the lectures at 1.5x speed, mainly because the speed people naturally give lectures tends to be a tad on the slow side.


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • David
    Leighton Buzzard, United Kingdom
    12/16/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Interesting but slow delivery grated in the middle"

    Chinese subject is perhaps too vast a subject to tackle in even a long set of courses such as this and certainly Professor Hammond seemed to struggle to make it manageable in the middle sections of this course. I confess I zoned out a little and got a bit lost in the series of dynasties in the Middle Ages. That being said the rest of the course was fascinating and it really picked up in the later periods when it is, perhaps, easier for a westerner to relate to the individuals involved.

    My only serious gripe with the course was Professor Hammond's delivery. He is clearly knowledgable and highly qualified but at times it sounded like his heart wasn't in it with a lot of sighs and very flat delivery. That combined with a habit of finishing a sentence with "OK?" grated a little but not enough to spoil the overall product.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Marcus
    SANDHURST, United Kingdom
    4/2/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Fabulously interesting series of lectures"
    Would you consider the audio edition of From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History to be better than the print version?

    No idea but it was excellent in it's own right.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Prof Hammond delivered the lectures with an infectious enthusiasm for his subject


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    I was riveted to Prof Hammond's narrative throughout and wasn't bored once


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The realisation that China has a 3000 year competitive advantage over Western economies, bureaucracies and political systems


    Any additional comments?

    I'm guessing it won't be long before our children are learning Chinese history as part of the mainstream curriculum unless we find a way to compete against the soft power and relentless expansion China has been exercising over the last 30 years backed up with the best part of 6000 organising themselves better than we do.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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