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China: A History


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About the Author

John Keay is the author of four acclaimed histories: 'The Honourable Company', 'Last Post', about the imperial disengagement of the Far East; the two-volume 'Explorers of the Western Himalayas' and 'India: A History'. His books on India include 'India Discovered', 'Into India' and 'The Great Arc: The Dramatic Tale of How India was Mapped and Everest was Named'. John Keay is married with four children, lives in Scotland and is co-editor with Julia Keay of the 'Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland'.


There are only a handful of English-language books that encapsulate the five millennia of Chinese history in one volume. To date, only John King Fairbank and Merle Goldman's China: A New History, Jacques Gernet's A History of Chinese Civilization, and Patricia Buckley Ebrey's Cambridge Illustrated History of China come close to Keay's concise precis of the imperial dynasties, influential characters, and major turning points of Chinese history. Without sacrificing substance for brevity, Keay manages to illustrate China's history very much as a narrative of the rise and fall of strong and feeble emperors, bureaucratic cliques and factionalism, the development of philosophical traditions and religious incarnations, and the constant restructuring of the empire's geographical boundaries. A journalist by trade, Keay is well experienced in scripting historical tomes, with India: A History being most comparable in scale and ambition to this latest work. VERDICT Readers already interested in, or wishing newly to embark upon, Chinese history will adore this book. Highly recommended.-Allan Cho, Univ. of British Columbia Lib., Vancouver Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

'There is no understanding China, present or future, without a sense of its past...Anybody fascinated by the puzzle of what comes next for our frail, perplexed planet will find unexpected answers in this crisp, often witty chronicle of amazements.' Peter Preston, Observer

'Dynasties lead to world domination: John Keay's forensic analysis of China's history makes the world of the ancient emperors strikingly modern and relevant.' Observer

'As John Keay's ambitious new book makes clear...China's history is intoxicatingly interesting and is sure to keep us on the edge of our geopolitical seats.' Independent on Sunday

'Absorbingly readable.' Independent

'An epic history of China...There's no way of understanding China's stirring future without a sense of its awe-inspiring past.' Traveller magazine

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