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China

A History
By: John Keay
Narrated by: Anne Flosnik
Length: 25 hrs and 30 mins
4 out of 5 stars (114 ratings)

Regular price: $39.95

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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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Exactly what I was looking for in a Chinese history book

This is an excellent narration of a marathon in book format. It is difficult to speed up the narration due to the complexity of its content and I listened at 1.5 speed. China has thousands of years and millions of pages and scrolls of history compiled here in a short but furious 600 pages. With sweeping narratives, cheeky sarcasm and timely repetition of key ideas, I highly recommend this book and narration both, since the book contains graphs and important spelling of names and the narration provides pronunciation of said names. Give yourself one month to work your way through this behemoth at the pace of about one chapter per day prior to visiting China or for a better personal understanding of China's trajectory.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

China's Long History Revealed

For most of us in the west the history of the far east is shrouded in mystery. John Keay has attempted to unveil this mysterious land, its people, and its remarkable story. I found many of the names of people and places a little difficult to follow, but the stories of the huge civil engineering projects undertaken in pre-modern times were fascinating. This may be a difficult read, but the Audible recording is excellent.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Siri, tell me about Chinese history

Would you listen to China again? Why?

No, the performance was distinctly robotic. Which is weird given the writing style of the author.

Who was your favorite character and why?

I guess Qin Shi Huang, the Chinese first emperor. Given the pace set by the author you learn not to get too attached to any one figure.

What aspect of Anne Flosnik’s performance would you have changed?

Her cadence and intonation are a dead ringer for Siri, it gets tiresome after a while.

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

no

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Well worth the investment

At times the book can feel sluggish, but the authors wonderful dry wit, and the fascinating subject matter make it well worth the effort.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

well written—mediocre performance

Keay is a good author and tells an interesting story that is worth knowing. However, I don’t think an audible book is the best venue for demonstrating his genius. The major problem is that it is almost impossible to keep track of the foreign names and words without seeing them. This made it extremely frustrating for me to learn more about the topics I’d been hearing about, because, in order to learn more, I spent inordinate amounts of time googling various spellings of Chinese words I had no idea how to spell.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent in every way

I've been to China several times and have read a lot about Chinese culture and history, but never a single work like this one. It's strongest for early history and pre-history. If you're looking for something that focuses on current history and events look elsewhere. But if you want to understand context and learn the players and events you'll enjoy this book a lot. I certainly learned a lot, particularly about early days. Keay is a good scholar and he brings the various scenes and historical figures to life. The narrator is also excellent.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable and Exhausting<br />

Narration was fine, there were a few places were the recording blurred, overall I learned a lot and will continue to broaden my understanding of eastern countries

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great history of china

detailed and particularly stated ...deals with ancient times as well as modern times ...comprehensive ...