Best Books on Chinese History That Explains Ancient China

The most populated country on our planet is China. And it has a very vast and interesting culture. People from all over the world, love to visit China and know about its wonderful heritage. It’s safe to say that China isn’t just about its famous type of martial arts, which is Kung-Fu, it’s much more than that.

Although you may be able to learn a lot about its heritage and history while visiting the country, it would be much better to know about most of it beforehand for a better experience of your trip. In today’s age, the internet provides us with most of the information that we need but some people still believe in the old style of getting information which is through the books. And since people have a shortage of time, people wish to figure out the best books on Chinese history to learn from.

So here I have a list of the 8 best books on Chinese history that I think is the best for acquiring information about ancient china.

8 Best Books on Chinese History

The Third Revolution

The Third Revolution

This book is written by Elizabeth C. Economy. In this book, she talks about the transformations that China went through, under its leader, Xi Jinping. She discusses the Economic and Political changes that were the most significant part of this leader’s work.

She goes on to talk about how the centralization of power took place under this leader and how he revolutionized the Communist Party’s role in the Chinese economy, politics, and their social life while keeping firm control over the exchange of ideas and capital between China and all the other Countries. Also, it discusses the major developments that occurred in Beijing, being the forefront of Chinese development. The major changes that took place over here like its economy. How it took back its strength and how the Chinese government is still trying its best to develop their country is also a part of this literary masterpiece.

It also highlights Xi Jinping’s work against corruption and how he has tried to reconsider the economic and political priorities for his country. And using such great writing, the writer is helping a number of people in visiting China while sitting in their houses. And is also trying to point all the shortcomings as well as the best work produced by the Chinese government.

In this book, she doesn’t only explain how greatly the leader has pursued all his tasks by she also discusses his flaws. This is how she actually helps its readers in understanding China and its powerful symbol. The Chinese economy clearly shows how this strong leader has affected China as well as the rest of the world and would continue to do so.

It’s a must-read for everyone who wishes to understand the country.

Foundations of Chinese Civilization

Foundations of Chinese Civilization

Jing Liu is the writer of this book. This book speaks about the foundation of the country which is quite obvious by its title. And it also discusses any major reforms in the Chinese culture, religions followed and its major cultural history. It also talks a little about the founders of this country. And the book is in a text to picture format which makes it interesting by providing it a comic-like appearance which in turn makes it easy to understand by all sorts of audience.

It shows the complete history of human development in China by discussing the concepts of Daoism and Confucianism, and it also talks about the Silk Road and some tales about Han Wudi, the famous Chinese emperor, and many more.

The author, being a native of China, is able to explain China’s unification in a pretty simple and vast format, while maintaining a particular timeline at a time. This book is known for its simplified and understandable pattern which would appeal to all types of audience and also provides all the needed information in an easy way.

China: A History

China: A History

This book is written by John Keay. This book tends to talk about China’s rich history which is incomparable with that of any other country. Other countries might have population or landmass as status but China’s history is unparalleled with that of any other.

The author tries to draw the attention of his audience by trying to grab a spotlight on Chinese history which is quite vast and colorful and is explained in the book in quite an illuminating manner. The author starts with the Three Dynasties and takes people back by 5000 years before discussing the current situation of the country and works his way sequentially to Chairman Mao and then the country’s economic development.

This book is a quite powerful literary piece that takes you through the history of China as well as takes a quick look into its future and its relations with all the other countries. It’s the reprint edition of the same book, written by Harold M. Tanner.

A Short History of China

A Short History of China

This book is written by Gordon Kerr. And the author provides a pretty comprehensive introduction to Chinese history. It covers everything from the prehistoric era to the current day scenario while talking about most of its warriors, tyrants, artists, etc. who helped in shaping Chinese history.

It covers a period of 4000 years in a quite fascinating way and helps the reader know a lot about Chinese history and the work of most of its leaders and the adversities faced by the country. It also talks about the technological breakthroughs achieved by this country. Most of these were done before the Europeans entered the country.

The author also tells us about the way China refers to and sees all the other countries. He concludes the book by a comparison of China with what it used to be earlier. And the book provides a quite point to point and concise description of Chinese history.

China: A history [Volume 1]

China: A history

This book is written by Harold M. tanner and it also has a reprint edition that was written by John Keay. This book has two volumes and both of these volumes are quite easily accessible and helpful. It educates its reader thoroughly about the political, social and cultural history of China.

This book provides the reader with a sequential way of pre-planned data about Chinese civilization through the development of the country. It discusses the ideology of the country as a whole, and both the books include enough information as illustrations and maps, and along with those are some notes by the author to explain every the next step to be taken in the given topic. And it provides a quite balanced informational channel which doesn’t seem uninteresting at all.

It tries to cover most of Chinese history, and presents it in a quite informative sense without many doubts and is a recommendable read for anyone who needs to know some background information of China.

The Cambridge Illustrated History of China [Second edition]

The Cambridge Illustrated History of China

This book is written by Patricia Buckley Ebrey and is the best book on Chinese history amongst all the books listed above, according to me. And it commences with discussing the prehistoric time period, traces through all the important events and finally concludes towards the modern-day condition of China and its people.

It includes the history of Confucianism and Buddhism in the country, towards the great dynasties of Manchu and Mongol. It covers every part of the history quite fascinatingly along with some basic characteristics and other minor information of the country like immigration, the position of women in their society and politics.

It talks about the western invasion into this country and also the transformations that brought it here, towards a communist state in today’s world. And surprisingly, differentiating it from many other books, it also has information about the Tiananmen Square uprisings which occurred twice in Chinese history in 1919 and 1989, respectively.

This being the second edition of the book, it contains some additional information consisting of a chapter about China, sharing its resources with the rest of the world. And this book is quite appreciated for the work of the writer, about capturing 5000 years of Chinese history in such a simple masterpiece. He has tried to accommodate a lot of information in a very simple way for the reader to maintain the information with a stable interest.

The Early Chinese Empires

The Early Chinese Empires

This book is written by Mark Edward Lewis and talks about the period of Qin and Han. It is a part of a six-volume series that goes by the name “History of Imperial China”. this book starts with talking about the first king of Qin in 221BC who brought together, the picture of modern-day China. He unified a set of lands that later turned into the heart of the Chinese empire. This shows that by the medium of this book, we can witness the very initialization of a vast country that would later be transformed in the required ways to turn it into present-day China.

This Qin and Han period is known as the classical period of Chinese history. The author discusses the challenges faced by scholars and officials of the court in governing a body with such diversity and also the measures that were taken to resolve the issues without getting rid of any local diversities.

This book is highly recommended along with the other members of its series for any person who’s interested in deep knowledge in Chinese history.

Forgotten Ally

Forgotten Ally

This book is written by Rana Mitter and it covers World War II for China and discusses how 80 to 100 million Chinese became refugees. And the author points out the starting of the war as an accidental firefight at Marco Polo bridge in 1937 rather than the plains of Europe.

Even when Tokyo surrendered after 8 years, victorious China lost more than eliminated Japan. The author brings to light the fact that after being shredded to ruins, the country which was just seeming like another geographical location finally figured out its roots and learned how they wish to choose the person or body that governs them.

Also, the author discusses how through these tragic times, China evolved and turned into a powerful country whether you talk of militarization or even bureaucracy. This is a great book for the people who wish to learn more about the Chinese side of World War II.

I hope I was able to help the readers in selecting the right book on the information of China, concentrating primarily on its history. If you liked the content, please leave a comment below, or like our post.

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