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Publisher's Summary

A knowledge of China's imperial history is vital for any understanding of its present, as modern China is linked in many ways to the extraordinary culture of its empire. These 24 lectures take you to the heart of life during China's imperial era, through the lives of individual subjects of all social ranks. Across the arc of the course, you'll witness what daily life was like for government bureaucrats, for scholars, for women of the court, for soldiers, merchants, craftspeople, courtesans, imperial cooks, and many others - all against the backdrop of the diversity, the genius, and the majesty of imperial China.

You'll hear about such memorable sights as the grand boulevards; splendorous palaces; imposing temples of Chang'an, the medieval world's greatest city; and the Qingming Shanghetu, a 17-foot painted scroll that gloriously portrays Song Dynasty life. And you'll meet unforgettable human beings, whose lives vividly reveal the world around them, such as Ban Zhao, Han-era woman of letters, poet, scholar, and teacher; Tao Yuanming, Daoist luminary and the empire's first great poet; Zhu Yuanzhang, powerful warlord and founder of the Ming Dynasty; and Hong Xiuquan, visionary reformer and architect of the religiously inspired Taiping Rebellion.

Understanding Imperial China: Dynasties, Life, and Culture is your passport to this incredible, historic world.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.
©2017 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2017 The Great Courses

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Imperial China: very well done!

To any person interested in China, this is an enjoyable course. Very clear, well structured and well presented. The professor knows and knows how to teach. I recommend it!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful for academics and lay persons alike

This is a great overview of the history of China. Professor Andrew R. Wilson is a very knowledgable and engaging lecturer. I recommend this course for anyone with an interest in China.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Highly recommended!

This course was both engaging and informative. As a high school history teacher I appreciated the professor's approach to the subject and his obvious enthusiasm. I only wish there had been more lectures in the course!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Insight to a history not taught in US schools

Loved every minute. Insightful from footbinding to daily life of an emperor. A must listen

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Stunning History!

This is an amazing story of the Imperial China. It weaves elegantly together the human efforts on the individual and grand scale along a two thousand year long journey. Beautifully researched and scripted. I immensely enjoyed listening to this. Excellence from start to finish.

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A comprehensive insight

History is more often than not, story of the dead. But in this course we get to look at things from the perspective of the people living at those times - Right from the sculptors of the first emperor's terracotta warriors to the little girl whose feet was bound as a submission to society's obscure perception of beauty; From the Ming dynasty soldiers who rebuilt and patrolled the Great Wall, to the fatherless boy, Temüjin, who went on to be the founder of the largest land empire in all of history; From the celebrated courtesans who entertained the educated elites, to the wannabe elites preparing for the prestigious Imperial civil service exams.

Imperial China was one of the most populous, influential and powerful state in the world for almost two millenia. And to be able to look at the history of this great empire unravel right from the eye of its protagonists was an wonderful experience.

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great job

a wonderfully done course. I recommend this to anyone seeking to understand Chinese culture and history

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Equals the best Audible has

This course equals the best that Audible has ...which is anything Professor Ken Harl offers

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  • susan
  • Marshfield, VT, United States
  • 05-25-18

Clear and entertaining history

I knew very little about Chinese history, and Prof. Wilson provided a clear and entertaining introduction. I like his emphasis on the lives of common people. He doesn't get bogged down in dates and wars as some historians do. Instead he presents an overview by general subjects that also has vivid details. He puts events in political and geographic context. Makes me want to learn more about China, and even take a trip to see some of the areas he mentions. Highly recommended!

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Must listen

Insightful, interesting, instructive. A look into the varied lives of the Chinese people across two centuries of historic endeavor.

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  • Jake Harrison
  • 09-13-18

Great content, average delivery

There's a lot of knowledge packed into this course and I learned a lot. Many events and details were missed, but the history of China is a dense topic and a single series of lectures can't be expected to touch on everything! So overall, I was impressed by the content.
I can't give five stars because the lecturer's Chinese pronunciation wasn't very accurate, and at times I couldn't really understand the Chinese despite being able to speak the language myself. If the Chinese had been clearer, it would have been a little easier to follow up on the names mentioned and do further research. Nevertheless, the content itself is fantastic and I'd certainly recommend the book for anyone interested in the history of China and wanting to expand their knowledge.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful