China: A History, Volume I From Neolithic Cultures through the Great Qing Empire

China: A History, Volume I From Neolithic Cultures through the Great Qing Empire


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China: A History Volume I - From Neolthic Cultures through the Great Qing Empire by Harold M. Tanner is very clear history of China from prehistoric times to 1799 CE. I have not found that there is a Volume II available but, when or if it comes out, I would certainly buy it. Tanner's style is sometimes a little repetitive in that he goes on too long on a topic to make sure a reader gets the point but, most of the time, he covers the information quickly but thoroughly and moves on to his next topic.

Tanner is especially good at explaining to a reader complex social situations and dramatic events in history. He begins each section with an introductory paragraph which sets the reader up for what will be explained later more completely. An example of this is his discussion of the fall of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE). There were many complicated social factors which contributed to the fall of the Tang but Tanner is able to zero in on the central issue which he expands on later. He writes:

The Tang dynasty is famous for its territorial expansion, its great cities and palaces, its flourishing trade, its art, literature, and religious life, and for the luxurious lives of its aristocrats. This power and glory was possible only because the imperial government controlled grain production, labor, and armies. When the Tang state lost control of these things its power declined and it was less able to deal with internal and external crises (172).

The details of the fall of the Tang, such as the emperor Xuonzong's personal failings or the An Lushan Rebellion, are then covered later along with all of the other complex issues. The basic facts of what led to the decline of the Tang Dynasty, though, are all right there in his opening paragraph.

The book is divided into three sections: Part I: The Early Empire: Building Institutions and Identity (2070 BCE-220 CE); Part II: Cultural Interaction and Transformation (220-1368 CE); Part III: A New Confucian Empire (1368-1799 CE). Parts I and III have three chapters each and Part II four chapters. The reader begins with the mythical origins of history and moves on from those tales to historical events supported by records and archaeological evidence.

Overall, it is an enjoyable and very informative work. I would have appreciated more maps of a larger scale as I like to be able to check references to distances between cities or regions when they are mentioned. The book could also use more illustrations of people, architecture, and especially inventions. It helps to have a visual image when one is reading about something as complex as a motorized mountain with a dragon that dispensed wine, for example. The book is still very good even if it lacks images and maps. I would recommend it for anyone interested in Chinese history and definitely for a student studying the subject.


ISBN 13: 9781603842020

Tanner, Harold M.

This specific ISBN edition is currently not available.

Available in one or two volumes, this accessible, yet rigorous, introduction to the political, social, and cultural history of China provides a balanced and thoughtful account of the development of Chinese civilization from its beginnings to the present day.

Each volume includes ample illustrations, a full complement of maps, a chronological table, extensive notes, recommendations for further reading and an index.

Volume 1: From Neolithic Cultures through the Great Qing Empire (10,000 BCE�). Volume 2: From the Great Qing Empire through the People's Republic of China (1644�).

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Harold M. Tanner is Professor of History at the University of North Texas.

A solid, clearly written and up-to-date account of China's dynastic history, taking note of recent research, and with attention to cultural developments and economic practice. An accessible read, even for first-comers to this highly complex subject this is an excellent introduction to China that instructors will welcome and students will enjoy. --Michael Loewe, University Lecturer in Chinese Studies, University of Cambridge 1963-1990 Emeritus Fellow of Clare Hall.

Tanner has written an excellent text on Chinese history which offers a fine balance between the traditional and the modern. He also charts a good balance between studies of the elite, government, philosophy and diplomacy and, on the other hand, analyses of ordinary people, economic institutions, social patterns, and folk religion. The book provides a comprehensive view of Chinese culture, including developments in literature and the arts. A generous selection of illustrations facilitates comprehension of and pleasure in the visual arts. Finally, Professor Tanner's consideration of Western contact with China and the attendant problems and gains is judicious and informative. --Morris Rossabi, Distinguished Professor of History, City University of New York


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Rent China: a History (Volume 1) 1st edition (978-1603842020) today, or search our site for other textbooks by Harold M. Tanner. Every textbook comes with a 21-day "Any Reason" guarantee. Published by Hackett Publishing Company, Incorporated.

Available in one or two volumes, this accessible, yet rigorous, introduction to the political, social, and cultural history of China provides a balanced and thoughtful account of the development of Chinese civilization from its beginnings to the present day.Each volume includes ample illustrations, a full complement of maps, a chronological table, extensive notes, recommendations for further reading and an index.Volume 1: From Neolithic Cultures through the Great Qing Empire (10,000 BCE--1799). Volume 2: From the Great Qing Empire through the People's Republic of China (1644--2009).

A Note On Transliterations

About The Chinese Characters

Introduction: The Lay Of The Land And The Origins Of The Chinese People

PART I - THE EARLY EMPIRE: BUILDING INSTITUTIONS AND IDENTITY, 2070(?) BCE-220 CE

From Myth to History: The Beginnings of the Chinese State and Culture in the Xia, Shang, and Western Zhou Dynasties

The Age of Fighting and Philosophy: The Eastern Zhou Dynasty

From Feudal States to Bureaucratic Empire: The Qin and Western Han Dynasties

The Decline and Fall of Eastern Civilization: The Xin and Eastern Han Dynasties

PART II - CULTURAL INTERACTION AND TRANSFORMATION, 220-1368

The Age of Warriors and Buddhists: The Three Kingdoms, Western Jin, and the Period of North-South Division


China: A History, Volume I From Neolithic Cultures through the Great Qing Empire - History

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China: A History&mdashavailable in one volume or two&mdashis adopted at more than fifty colleges and universities, including:

  • Brown University
  • University of California, San Diego
  • Columbia University
  • Concordia College
  • Frostburg State University
  • Johnson City Community College
  • University of Kansas
  • Kenyon College
  • Middlebury College
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Occidental College
  • Princeton University
  • Simon Fraser University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Washington

Now available in two volumes, this accessible, yet rigorous, introduction to the political, social, and cultural history of China provides a balanced and thoughtful account of the development of Chinese civilization from its beginnings to the present day.

Each volume includes ample illustrations, a full complement of maps, a chronological table, extensive notes, recommendations for further reading and an index.

  • Volume 1: From Neolithic Cultures through the Great Qing Empire (10,000 BCE&mdash1799)
  • Volume 2: From the Great Qing Empire through the People's Republic of China (1644&mdash2009)

"A solid, clearly written and up-to-date account of China's dynastic history, taking note of recent research, and with attention to cultural developments and economic practice. An accessible read, even for first-comers to this highly complex subject this is an excellent introduction to China that instructors will welcome and students will enjoy."
&mdashMichael Loewe, University Lecturer in Chinese Studies, University of Cambridge 1963&mdash1990 Emeritus Fellow of Clare Hall.

"Tanner has written an excellent text on Chinese history which offers a fine balance between the traditional and the modern. He also charts a good balance between studies of the elite, government, philosophy and diplomacy and, on the other hand, analyses of ordinary people, economic institutions, social patterns, and folk religion.
"The book provides a comprehensive view of Chinese culture, including developments in literature and the arts. A generous selection of illustrations facilitates comprehension of and pleasure in the visual arts.
"Finally, Professor Tanner's consideration of Western contact with China and the attendant problems and gains is judicious and informative."
&mdashMorris Rossabi, Distinguished Professor of History, City University of New York

" . . . . Tanner writes attractively . . . . He tells many stories of villains and heroes, of tragedy and comedy, of high culture and coarse humour, of wealth and poverty, of feast and famine, of poignant suffering, all of which keep the reader's interest and indeed fascination. It is a heroic tale that he tells and he does this superbly, rejecting myths and misunderstandings that have beset Western views of a complex country."
&mdashG.R. Batho, The Historical Association Reviews

"I like Tanner's books (both volumes) because they combine up-to-date knowledge of the state of the field with concise and accessible writing&mdashat a very affordable price."
&mdashJeremy Brown, Department of History, Simon Fraser University

About the Author:

Harold M. Tanner is Professor of History at the University of North Texas.


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Remarkably poorly written. It seems like the author doesn't expect the reader to be able to follow any kind of red thread, so he's resorted to just loosely listing factoids. Or maybe he just has a poor grasp of structure. I'll give an example that illustrates this while also being typical: the subchapter on Shang religion.
It starts with describing a burial, but immediately veers into meticulous details (564 items of carved bone) without any pointers as to the significance of said details. Then how bronzes were cast specially for burials, and then in the same paragraph that the Shang believed in a multitude of spirits, then some facts about their supreme deity. Then on to sacrifice to the gods, then back to burials and the layout of the tombs, then back to sacrifices (in the tombs). Then this gem, typical of the style: "As described above, the Shang elite continued to honor their ancestors with rituals and sacrifices and to seek understanding of the causes of good and bad fortune and and the possible course of future events through divination". That's the intro to divination. An example is given. The author then digresses about how male children were preferred and would be throughout Chinese history. Then he lists three unrelated Shang cultural elements that would outlive the Shang. The end.
Bear in mind that Shang divination got a much fuller description a few pages before this, in the subchapter "Shang culture and society". you could probably make a drinking game out of this book, where you read a paragraph and have people guess what the heading is. You'd get very drunk.

The text never goes beyond dry presentation of facts. Well, even that is generous, as it also often shyes clear of concluding on historical controversies,and instead just resorts to weasel language like "many say that. " or "some say that. ". This includes cases where "many" are just plain wrong, the most glaring example being the claim that the Chinese are descended from Chinese Homo Erectus. Can we all just agree that we're descended from African Homo Sapiens?

The prehistory chapter does nothing to give a proper context in terms of Asian history or technology, and doesn't even try to produce a mental image of life as it was lived.

I could go on. I've never put away a properly researched non-fiction book, but this was unreadable.


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Remarkably poorly written. It seems like the author doesn't expect the reader to be able to follow any kind of red thread, so he's resorted to just loosely listing factoids. Or maybe he just has a poor grasp of structure. I'll give an example that illustrates this while also being typical: the subchapter on Shang religion.
It starts with describing a burial, but immediately veers into meticulous details (564 items of carved bone) without any pointers as to the significance of said details. Then how bronzes were cast specially for burials, and then in the same paragraph that the Shang believed in a multitude of spirits, then some facts about their supreme deity. Then on to sacrifice to the gods, then back to burials and the layout of the tombs, then back to sacrifices (in the tombs). Then this gem, typical of the style: "As described above, the Shang elite continued to honor their ancestors with rituals and sacrifices and to seek understanding of the causes of good and bad fortune and and the possible course of future events through divination". That's the intro to divination. An example is given. The author then digresses about how male children were preferred and would be throughout Chinese history. Then he lists three unrelated Shang cultural elements that would outlive the Shang. The end.
Bear in mind that Shang divination got a much fuller description a few pages before this, in the subchapter "Shang culture and society". you could probably make a drinking game out of this book, where you read a paragraph and have people guess what the heading is. You'd get very drunk.

The text never goes beyond dry presentation of facts. Well, even that is generous, as it also often shyes clear of concluding on historical controversies,and instead just resorts to weasel language like "many say that. " or "some say that. ". This includes cases where "many" are just plain wrong, the most glaring example being the claim that the Chinese are descended from Chinese Homo Erectus. Can we all just agree that we're descended from African Homo Sapiens?

The prehistory chapter does nothing to give a proper context in terms of Asian history or technology, and doesn't even try to produce a mental image of life as it was lived.

I could go on. I've never put away a properly researched non-fiction book, but this was unreadable.


China: A History (Volume 1): From Neolithic Cultures through the Great Qing Empire, (10,000 BCE - 1799 CE) (English Edition) Kindle-editie

Remarkably poorly written. It seems like the author doesn't expect the reader to be able to follow any kind of red thread, so he's resorted to just loosely listing factoids. Or maybe he just has a poor grasp of structure. I'll give an example that illustrates this while also being typical: the subchapter on Shang religion.
It starts with describing a burial, but immediately veers into meticulous details (564 items of carved bone) without any pointers as to the significance of said details. Then how bronzes were cast specially for burials, and then in the same paragraph that the Shang believed in a multitude of spirits, then some facts about their supreme deity. Then on to sacrifice to the gods, then back to burials and the layout of the tombs, then back to sacrifices (in the tombs). Then this gem, typical of the style: "As described above, the Shang elite continued to honor their ancestors with rituals and sacrifices and to seek understanding of the causes of good and bad fortune and and the possible course of future events through divination". That's the intro to divination. An example is given. The author then digresses about how male children were preferred and would be throughout Chinese history. Then he lists three unrelated Shang cultural elements that would outlive the Shang. The end.
Bear in mind that Shang divination got a much fuller description a few pages before this, in the subchapter "Shang culture and society". you could probably make a drinking game out of this book, where you read a paragraph and have people guess what the heading is. You'd get very drunk.

The text never goes beyond dry presentation of facts. Well, even that is generous, as it also often shyes clear of concluding on historical controversies,and instead just resorts to weasel language like "many say that. " or "some say that. ". This includes cases where "many" are just plain wrong, the most glaring example being the claim that the Chinese are descended from Chinese Homo Erectus. Can we all just agree that we're descended from African Homo Sapiens?

The prehistory chapter does nothing to give a proper context in terms of Asian history or technology, and doesn't even try to produce a mental image of life as it was lived.

I could go on. I've never put away a properly researched non-fiction book, but this was unreadable.


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China: A History (Volume 1): From Neolithic Cultures through the Great Qing Empire, (10,000 BCE - 1799 CE)

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