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Publisher's Summary

China today is never out of the news: from human rights controversies and the continued legacy of Tiananmen Square, to global coverage of the Beijing Olympics, and the Chinese "economic miracle." It is a country of contradictions and transitions: a peasant society with some of the world's most futuristic cities, an ancient civilization that is modernizing as rapidly as possible, a walled-off nation that is increasingly at the center of world trade.

This Very Short Introduction offers an indispensable starting point for anyone who needs to quickly know the themes and controversies that have shaped modern China. Prize-winning author and scholar Rana Mitter examines the modern history, politics, economy, and thriving cultural scene of contemporary China, and its relations with the wider world.

This lively guide covers a range of social issues from the decline of footbinding and the position of women in society, to the influence of television and film, and the role of the overseas Chinese diaspora. It covers many prominent figures as well, such as the Communist leaders, the last emperors, and prominent writers and artists throughout China's history.

©2008 Oxford University Press; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

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  • Overall
  • Lucie
  • Sanford, ME, United States
  • 10-21-09

Not what the title promises, but some value

If you're looking for a clear introduction to modern China, this isn't it. Instead, it's an academic paper about the esoteric question of whether China can be called "modern," whether it has now achieved "modernity." That being said, if one can get passed the constant references to "modern" and "modernity," this book provides an overview of China's history during the 20th century. Conversely, for a fascinating introduction to modern China, listen to Rob Gifford's "China Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power" here on Audible.com.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Adam
  • Medford, MA, United States
  • 09-04-09

Not bad

This is a basic overview of China's history. For those who are looking for detailed account of China you will find this a bit shallow.

While breezing through important points in China's history the author does make an effort to sift propaganda away from fact and gives you the foundation for further research.

This reads more like a textbook than anything else so steer clear if you're looking for a thrilling epic.

The book covers events roughly from the Qing dynasty all the way up to the Beijing Olympics.

All-in-all, not bad.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Dull and superficial

Not a particularly well written or well read history, came across to me as quite drab and lifeless, lacking any vivid detail of people or events and somewhat distracted by esoteric debates over what "modernity" means (who cares). Reader speaks beautiful Chinese but is not an accomplished narrator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
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  • Story

Great short summary history of modern China

For a short summary history of modern China, this short book easily fills the bill.

  • Overall

Great!

This was a fantastic short version of what I wanted. Now I know exactly what I want to research further. Nancy Wu is awesome. Thank you.