How can we account for China’s momentous - and almost wholly unanticipated - global rise? And what does it mean, for us in the West and for humanity’s future?
Speaking to these vital and fascinating questions, these 48 penetrating lectures by Professor Baum bring to vivid life the human struggles, the titanic political upheavals, and the spectacular speed of China’s modern rebirth. Offering multilevel insight into one of the most astounding real-life dramas of modern history, the lectures weave together the richly diverse developments and sociopolitical currents that created the China you now read about in the headlines.
You’ll get a detailed understanding of all the core events in China’s century of stunning change, including the collapse of the Qing dynasty, the Republican era and civil wars, the "Great Leap Forward", the Cultural Revolution, and the post-Mao economic "miracle". Throughout, Professor Baum reveals highly unusual details that enrich the cinematic sweep of the story. For example, you’ll learn about the Christian warlord who baptized his troops with a fire hose, the strange kidnapping of Chiang K’ai-shek, and Professor Baum’s own smuggling of top-secret documents out of Taiwan.
A core strength of these lectures is that they make sense of the dramatic events of the story by getting deeply at what underlay them, culturally, socially, and historically - leaving you with a nuanced knowledge of the forces moving China’s modern emergence. Bringing alive the passionate reinvention of China with deep discernment and humanity, they portray the confounding, majestic, heart-rending, and visionary story of a modern giant.
PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2010 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2010 The Great Courses
I've lived in China 10+ years. Like the author, I can speak, read and write Chinese. My wife is Chinese and my children half Chinese. I read the positive reviews and I can only think that most people don't know much about China or the 20th century.
The lectures are extremely biased. Like a good little boy wearing the blue jumpsuit, he refrains from mentioning Tibet, yet boasts how the modern China isn't aggressive. War is peace apparently. He at least recognizes the aggression intended for Taiwan although he claims an American carrier group is a single very small boat. To the listener with a strong knowledge of history, this garbage is all over the book. He mentions everything bad done to China but nothing bad that China does. He loves to minimize the west and play up the east.
He even calls the national Chinese soldiers in ww2 poor troops. They weren't. Chiang wasn't a good general. He would commit his forces piecemeal rather than in force. If you know anything about war you'll know this is bad as the enemy will be able to concentrate his entire force against parts of yours. Anyway, this was a sad line to hear anyone say as I thought they fought bravely.
His information about the Korean War, especially the causes of war and Mao and Stalin's role in it, are wrong as what he says is directly contradicted by the documents declassified by the kgb in the 90s. He even contradicts common knowledge. Mao agreed to actively fight the UN in North Korea if the invasion failed. It's like the professor was educated in China and told the twisted history people learn here: the USA is at fault for everything and China did nothing. War is peace remember.
His forecast for the future has been wrong as China devalued its currency yet again (he forecasts China stopping this). Pirating hasn't ceased. I live here, I know. Pollution isn't going down. Don't believe what you read in the paper. One thing most people don't realize is that over here, not just in China, but all over Asia simply lying about something is common because it saves face.
He cites a modern case where the USA and Saudi searched a Chinese boat traveling from North Korea to Iran and didn't find any weapons as a bad thing. Chinese boats keep the government trash of North Korea happy with luxuries and other things the UN has banned. Furthermore Iran and North Korea do do business in weapons. Actually, North Korea would have collapsed long ago if it didn't border China. The professor banks on your ignorance to make his arguments as any boat going from North Korea to Iran should be searched. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a decoy set up to create a situation for people like Baum to tell us about. Stuff like this is everywhere in the series.
Worst of all is the whole 3 or 4 sentences he says about Falun Gong. research this yourself and compare it to what he says. I'm in China so I'm going to not talk about this here. I don't understand how someone can put their career, as Baum is clearly doing here, before human rights.
He talks of China as if things are improving. It's not. if you think the USA is racist, try living in China. If you think the law isn't fair and applied to all equally in the USA, try living in China. If you think the USA is corrupt, come here. While we try to stamp these thing out, nothing here is done about them. What you read in the news is for show.
I found most of this series disgusting. I suppose if you don't know better, it might give you hope; however it is false hope. I don't have hope. I've watched things get worse here. I'm not sure the Mao and the cpp actually made China worse, and I obviously hope things do get better as I'm stuck here, but these lectures bothered me.
He is a good speaker and the story he tells is interesting, just don't get sucked into believing there isn't another side to the stories he's telling you. Don't get fooled by his jokes and disdain for Mao either as Mao isn't treated like a god here; it's understood he made mistakes and kind of lost his mind later in life. If you're trying to learn the history of China and the 20th century, fact check everything you hear. I'm relieved he resigned from the (hopefully) president cliton's Asia advisory team.
Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.
One of my biggest complaints on a lot of courses and books is that halfway through, they start to drag on about some topics or ideas I just don't find as interesting as some other topics or ideas the author/lecturer could have chosen.
This stays strong all through the course. There is no lecture that made me fall into passive listening. In fact, the second half is orders of magnitude above and beyond anything I have heard in a long while, because the professor has been to China and followed key events of modern history closely. In other words, it gains that vivid image and personal touch only a person who has witnessed the events can communicate.
If you get a single course, this is where you should start, hands down.
The narrator and the story grew on me steadily throughout the chapters, it was completely worth it to stick with it until the end. The anecdotal adventures of the author really livened up the historical narrative. This captivating story gave me a thirst to learn more about Chinese history and culture, especially the ancient and medieval periods now that modernity is established.
Prof. Richard Baum provides a high-quality academic presentation of the main events in Modern Chinese history. As is the case with any other scholar, his historical narrative is informed by his own point of view. However, his explanation is rich enough for the informed listener to begin developing her own conclusions. I deeply regret that audible does not provide access to the companion book that The Great Courses provide when you purchase this series of lectures from them. That companion book not only summarizes the main points, it also suggests further readings. On the positive side, audible offers these lectures for a much more affordable price.
Some of his anecdotes show the extent of his knowledge and his personal involvement with China.
It's too long for that. I did listen to several hours in a row, though. And I did so while washing the dishes and cleaning my apartment. I had no difficulties following his explanation, which is very clear.
At times, it seems like all sentences follow the same cadence. However, this is an absolutely minor issue. Part of it is related to the fact that he is not a professional reader and he is following his own explanation rather than reading from a text. Other audible books where a professional reads a book are more enjoyable, but I didn't choose this book only for enjoyment. You can't get everything, and I have not found another more appealing narrator that would give you the depth of knowledge that prof. Baum provides for beginners. There is a history of China book in audible, but I have the impression that it is way worst in terms of content. In any case, despite this minor problem I enjoyed these lectures immensely.
Though at times the information seemed presented as a list of factual events (which made it a little dry), at other times the authors personal stories helped make this read come to life. It takes a while to get through but if you stick it through to the end there's a lot of good information that makes it worth it!
Amazing and breathtaking survey of Chinese history over the past 300 years. The professor is a gifted storyteller whose voice sounds like James Spader. I'm sad it's over and I appreciate China a lot more.
Excellent under every aspect.
Comprehensive, very interesting and very well narrated.
It is not a cheap audiobook but, in my opinion, it worth every penny.
If you like Chinese history this is a must have!
Thank you so much Professor Richaard Burns!
Excellent set of lectures covering the fall of China's monarchy, the dual rise of the nationalist and communist factions, Mao's tenure, and China's economic coming of age in the 1980s through the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Eye opening and expansive. Only complaint is the lecture does not incorporate some of the more recent scholarship on the Empress Dowager Cixi and puts forth some of the widely circulated, but perhaps inaccurate, characterizations of her and her role in the final downfall of the monarchy.
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