We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access.
Call anytime(888) 283-5051
 >   > 
The Search for Modern China | [Jonathan D. Spence]

The Search for Modern China

The history of China is as rich and strange as that of any country on earth. Yet for many, China’s history remains unknown, or known only through the stylized images that generations in the West have cherished or reviled as truth. With his command of character and event - the product of 30 years of research and reflection in the field - Spence dispels those myths in a powerful narrative. Over four centuries of Chinese history, Spence fashions the astonishing story of the effort to achieve a modern China.
Regular Price:$27.97
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Your Likes make Audible better!

'Likes' are shared on Facebook and Audible.com. We use your 'likes' to improve Audible.com for all our listeners.

You can turn off Audible.com sharing from your Account Details page.

OK

Publisher's Summary

The history of China is as rich and strange as that of any country on earth. Yet for many, China’s history remains unknown, or known only through the stylized images that generations in the West have cherished or reviled as truth.

With his command of character and event - the product of 30 years of research and reflection in the field - Spence dispels those myths in a powerful narrative. Over four centuries of Chinese history, from the waning days of the once-glorious Ming Dynasty to Deng Xiaoping’s bloody suppression of the pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, Spence fashions the astonishing story of the effort to achieve a modern China. Through the ideas and emotions of its reformist Confucian scholars, its poets, novelists, artists, and visionary students, we see one of the world’s oldest cultures struggling to define itself as Chinese and modern.

©1990 Jonathan D. Spence (P)2000 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

“To understand…China’s past there is no better place to start than Jonathan D. Spence’s excellent new book.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Monumental…History that is always lively, always concrete, always comprehensible.” (New York Times)

“Rich and dramatic…A pleasure to read, as well as being immensely informative.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (45 )
5 star
 (17)
4 star
 (9)
3 star
 (12)
2 star
 (3)
1 star
 (4)
Overall
4.1 (32 )
5 star
 (19)
4 star
 (4)
3 star
 (5)
2 star
 (1)
1 star
 (3)
Story
2.8 (32 )
5 star
 (5)
4 star
 (7)
3 star
 (6)
2 star
 (6)
1 star
 (8)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Patricia Kenneth City, FL, USA 01-02-13
    Patricia Kenneth City, FL, USA 01-02-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    11
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    31
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great Read, Difficult Chinese"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would certainly recommend this book as it is both comprehensive and concise. Spence does a great job at covering China's history in a easily digestible read.


    What other book might you compare The Search for Modern China to and why?

    Nothing out there really compares to Spence's tome, but to supplement this history, Arthur Smith's 19th and 20th century writings cover Chinese culture and society from a more humanistic perspective. Together, the reader will get a good feel for China.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Chinese pronunciation is difficult for a non-native speaker and the reader's attempts, while noble, fall short of the mark. For those who speak Mandarin, the Chinese pronunciation is annoyingly incorrect making it difficult to follow the narrative when it comes to places and names. It's a struggle, at best. However, for non Mandarin speakers, this may not be a problem.


    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Port Townsend, WA, United States 11-28-12
    John Port Townsend, WA, United States 11-28-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "An undisputed classic"

    This book is epic, narrative history at its absolute best, as it traces the history of China from the time of the late Ming until the present day. In its best moments, it evokes the likes of Edward Gibbon, as we follow the rise and fall of the larger-than-life personalities, from the Chongzheng Emperor to Deng Xiaoping, that dot the historical landscape of the Middle Kingdom. This is one of those rare historical tomes that I would recommend to anyone, regardless of whether one's interest in Chinese history is professional or casual, and regardless of one's level of scholarship. In short, this is a classic of Chinese history, and even, dare I say, a classic of narrative history.

    The performance is solid as well, but has some serious problems. Although the reader never lost my attention, his pronunciation of Chinese names is inconsistent and, more often than not, incorrect. The audible edition is nonetheless worth spending a credit on, and comes highly recommended.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Delano Philadelphia, PA, United States 10-19-12
    Delano Philadelphia, PA, United States 10-19-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    129
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    35
    24
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    3
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent book, lazy narrator"

    This is a classic textbook on early modern and modern Chinese history. I've very happy to see it finally appearing in audio form, and I hope there are more on the way.

    I have one complaint: The pronunciation of most of the Chinese names is so wrong that the reader might as well be making up random noises. For example, "zhou" is pronounced "joe," not "zoo," and it matters because "zhou" appears in the names of most Chinese geographic locations outside Beijing and Shanghai. It would take 10 minutes for the reader to learn the absolute basics of how to pronounce Chinese names. By being too lazy to take those 10 minutes, the next 20? 30? hours of audio lose much of their value for any listener who hopes actually to learn something.

    17 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven West Hartford, CT, United States 12-28-13
    Steven West Hartford, CT, United States 12-28-13 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great scholarship read by unctuous buffoon"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A different reader


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Chiang Kai-shek, a balanced treatment.


    What didn’t you like about Frederick Davidson’s performance?

    Davidson combined his self-satisfied, precious English with self-confident, odious Chinese pronunciation. When quoting from a document, he slipped into a sing-song chant one might use in reading off the contents of fortune cookies.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Search for Modern China?

    None


    Any additional comments?

    I respect Professor Spence and his work, but the reading is more suitable for a skit on Saturday Night Live. Perhaps Davidson was chosen by some of Spence's academic rivals, or perhaps this is some sort of elaborate joke.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jan Vanderlinden Boulder, CO United States 09-08-13
    Jan Vanderlinden Boulder, CO United States 09-08-13

    jml

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The narrator doesn't know how to pronounce Chinese"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I really looked forward to the book, but the narrator is so awful I felt as though it was a total waste of time. I am not a Chinese speaker but have a rudimentary knowledge of the language and pronunciation - enough to cringe every time he tried to pronounce any Chinese names or words. Awful!!


    What could Jonathan D. Spence have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    I couldn't really continue listening after a few hours.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Frederick Davidson’s performances?

    Not one that related to anything Chinese.


    Was The Search for Modern China worth the listening time?

    Unfortunately no. . ..


    Any additional comments?

    Don't buy this is you have the slightest idea of how to pronounce anything Chinese. I really can't comprehend why the narrator was hired to read this book!

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-5 of 5 results

    There are no listener reviews for this title yet.

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank You

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.