• The Invention of China

  • By: Bill Hayton
  • Narrated by: Julian Elfer
  • Length: 10 hrs and 29 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (26 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A provocative account showing that "China" - and its 5,000 years of unified history - is a national myth, created only a century ago with a political agenda that persists to this day.

China's current leadership lays claim to a 5,000-year-old civilization, but "China" as a unified country and people, Bill Hayton argues, was created far more recently by a small group of intellectuals.

In this compelling account, Hayton shows how China's present-day geopolitical problems - the fates of Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, and the South China Sea - were born in the struggle to create a modern nation-state. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, reformers and revolutionaries adopted foreign ideas to "invent" a new vision of China. By asserting a particular, politicized version of the past the government bolstered its claim to a vast territory stretching from the Pacific to Central Asia. Ranging across history, nationhood, language, and territory, Hayton shows how the Republic's reworking of its past not only helped it to justify its right to rule a century ago - but continues to motivate and direct policy today.

©2020 Bill Hayton (P)2020 Tantor
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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An eye opening revelation

Haydon's, book is one of the best book ever written exploding the Chinese Communist Party's fabricated history of "China's" alleged historical destiny.
It lays bare, the fact that the Chinese Communist aped and replicated Western ideas to serve their own self serving narrative.
This book should be required reading to understand the origins and shallowness of the present imperialistic ambitions of the Chinese Communist elite.

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informative but somewhat dry.

While this book is incredibly well researched and can be entertaining at times. Its ultimate goal is to make and back up its argument that the Chinese government is lying about its history. And at this goal it succeeds wonderfully. It gives a convincing and sometimes of hilarious recounting of china's strange history.

BUT you will need to push through some boring, very academic sections that are simply retreading points already made. Don't get me wrong, these sections have a purpose. They are present to add to the body of evidence and make a point. Not to be entertaining stories. In fairness however the pacing is consistent throughout and these academic *evidence lists* are spread out in appropriate places.

Overall I would wholeheartedly recommend this book! But maybe you should wait until your in the mood for some infotainment that is more info than entertainment.

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Detailed Discussion of how China has

attempted to define itself. And this is not easy, but has been a real struggle.

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  • Max
  • 02-09-22

Best book about China, dreadful pronunciation

This is, very simply, the best book to understand China. The author makes a persuasive case that, though some of the elements of modern China's view of itself are of "ancient" origin, the narrative in which they are presented comes from attempts to fit them into a worldview which was imported from Europe in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Imperial "China" had no defined territory, no national identity, no concept of sovereign states and no common spoken language. The book is a marvellous account of how China borrowed or invented all of these and more, then projected them into the past. What's more, the tone of the book is humorous in an understated way, thanks to its matter-of-fact accounts of the activities of nationalists who took themselves extremely, extremely seriously. The story in the last chapter of how China's current aggression in the South China Sea is the result of translation errors and shoddy mapmaking in the 1930s is a particular highlight.

It's very unfortunate therefore that, though the narration is clear, well-paced and emotionally appropriate, the narrator's Chinese pronunciation is execrable: not just accented but completely incorrect, eg. pronouncing 会 (hui) as "hwee" and 史 (shi) as "shee". In a book where almost every sentence contains Chinese terms, often discussing those very terms at length, this is unacceptable. As a proficient Chinese speaker I could generally work out what he was trying to say, but the lack of any attempt to ensure correct pronunciation was a constant irritant.