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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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.


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

What Members Say

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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.

    9 of 9 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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    "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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    "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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Cambridge, New Zealand 10-15-13
    Mark Cambridge, New Zealand 10-15-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 07-25-15
    Kristi Richardson Milwaukie, OR, United States 07-25-15 Member Since 2014

    An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.

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    ""Only powerful people have liberty." Sun Yat-sen"

    History of China
    1. Geography and Archaeology
    2. The First Dynasties
    3. The Zhou Conquest
    4. Fragmentation and Social Change
    5. Confucianism and Daoism
    6. The Hundred Schools
    7. The Early Han Dynasty
    8. Later Han and the Three Kingdoms
    9. Buddhism
    10. Northern and Southern Dynasties
    11. Sui Reunification and the Rise of the Tang
    12. The Early Tang Dynasty
    13. Han Yu and the Late Tang
    14. Five Dynasties and the Song Founding
    15. Intellectual Ferment in the 11th Century
    16. Art and the Way
    17. Conquest States in the North
    18. Economy and Society in Southern Song
    19. Zhu Xi and Neo-Confucianism
    20. The Rise of the Mongols
    21. The Yuan Dynasty
    22. The Rise of the Ming
    23. The Ming Golden Age
    24. Gridlock and Crisis
    25. The Rise of the Manchus
    26. Kangxi to Qianlong
    27. The Coming of the West
    28. Threats from Within and Without
    29. The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom
    30. Efforts at Reform
    31. The Fall of the Empire
    32. The New Culture Movement and May 4th
    33. The Chinese Communists, 1921-1937
    34. War and Revolution
    35. China Under Mao
    36. China and the World in a New Century

    “In the construction of a country, it is not the practical workers but the idealists and planners that are difficult to find.” Sun Yat-sen

    I really enjoyed this Great Course. Professor Kenneth J. Hammond from New Mexico State makes this 5,000 year history of China come alive.

    It helped me to begin to understand the difference in cultures between the western world and the east. It also helped me to see that because I was brought up in a democracy/republic that all nations may not want that kind of government.

    I was surprised to learn that under Communism women had more rights than they had previously and as capitalism grabs hold of China, women’s rights are disappearing. I also found it interesting to learn why the students were protesting in Tiananmen Square and the eventual outcome of that protest.

    I also found intriguing the family dynasties that ruled China over the years and the Mongols taking control under the Khans when Marco Polo visited. I was disgusted to find Great Britain as the biggest drug cartel in history and how they pushed opium on the Chinese people in order to have an advantage in trading in silver with them.

    In America we learn little of Chinese history and these classes are about thirty minutes in length which is perfect for a little at a time. This took me a long time to finish but I feel I have a better understanding of the Chinese people and history thanks to Prof. Hammond.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Minneapolis, MN 03-25-15
    Amazon Customer Minneapolis, MN 03-25-15 Member Since 2009

    Say something about yourself!

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    "An Insightful History"
    Where does From Yao to Mao: 5000 Years of Chinese History rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    In the "enjoyed very very much" category.


    What did you like best about this story?

    It provides insight into why the current Chinese government acts as it does – and why its efforts to only slowly open its society to outside influences, and to put the brakes on at least some personal liberties that it believes could result in uncontrollable political disruptions, make sense from a Chinese historical perspective.


    Have you listened to any of Professor Kenneth J. Hammond’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    I have not.


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

    The tragic, opium-driven destruction of Chinese government and culture by the 19th Century British narco-state.


    Any additional comments?

    The lectures give lie to the commonly-held Western myth of China being a relatively continuous political state for several thousand years. There probably have been greater cultural continuities than can be found elsewhere, but politically the region has been, like most parts of the world, subject to repeated fracturing, re-assembling, foreign conquest, assimilation, and dis-assimilation.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Abdoulaye Niang 03-13-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very informative course about China"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, definitely, China being important on world stage, it is important to know where they come from and this book does a very good job explaining it. For instance why Chinese dislike foreigners because they were abused many times by them particularly the neighbors and the western powers. At least according to the book.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The chronological length: 5000 years of history in 18h. It is genial to capture the most important events. It was good for me to know that chairman Mao had a lot of challenges to get thing under control. We have been told that he could do what he wished that sound not to be the case.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    There was not much to laugh about but a lot to cry about.


    Any additional comments?

    The Professor is a great story teller but did not like the long pause he did sometime. At the beginning I thought something was wrong with my system. I then realized that they are just part of the audio. I would love to listen to any other audio book he has. Great job.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ragamuffin98 08-17-15 Member Since 2015
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    "I learned a lot. Enjoyed it!"

    I've lived in China for seven years and have never formally studied Chinese history before so this was a real treat. Every dynasty gets covered and it also gets into a little of Chinese thought backgrounds such as Confucius, Buddhism, and Taoism.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • 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
  • S. van Dijk
    7/30/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A pleasure to listen to"

    I learned a great deal and could easily have listened to an additional 36 lectures on this subject

    0 of 0 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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