China Bound

There are many aspects to China including its long history, vast territory, and large population.

These days, we often hear news about China because the country recently became the second largest economy in the world. Many of us have Chinese colleagues, neighbors, and friends. If you are interested in learning more about Chinese history and culture, several books at the Mercer County Library System provide an introduction to the history of the country as well as China’s role in international economics and politics including the relationship between China and the United States. These books may not be an exact reflection of current situations in China, but will provide insight to get you started in learning more about this diverse country.

Nixon and Mao: The Week That Changed the World by Margaret MacMillan
In February 1972, Richard Nixon, the first American president to visit China, and Mao Tse-tung, the enigmatic Communist dictator, met for an hour in Beijing. Their meeting changed the course of history and ultimately laid the groundwork for the complex relationship between China and the United States that we see today.

Modern China: The Fall and Rise of a Great Power, 1850 to the Present by Jonathan Fenby
This book covers more than one hundred years of Chinese history, from the collapse of the Manchu to the failure of the Sun Yat-sen revolution to the Mao era's great famine and culture’s revolution. China has emerged as an economic powerhouse in recent times and its future poses one of the great questions for the twenty-first century as it grapples with enormous internal challenges. This book offers a comprehensive introduction to China.

China: A History by John Keay
China: A History offers an overview of this nation’s complex and vivid past. Keay’s narrative spans five thousand years, from the time of the Three Dynasties (2000—220BC) to Chairman Mao and the current economic transformation of the country. This book is the classic single-volume history for anyone seeking to understand the present and future of this immensely powerful nation.

Mao's Great Famine: The History of China's Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962 by Frank Dikotter
Between 1958 and 1962, China descended into hell. Mao Zedong threw the country into frenzy with the Great Leap Forward, an attempt to catch up to and overtake Britain in less than 15 years.  The experiment ended in the greatest catastrophe the country had ever known, destroying tens of millions of lives. Dikotter offers an unprecedented, groundbreaking chronicle that recasts the era of Mao Zedong and the history of the People's Republic of China.

China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know by Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom
According to the author, “The goal of this book is to help normalize discussions of China, a country that is too often seen as – to use the cliché – inscrutable.” Wasserstrom attempts to clear up sources of Western misunderstanding about China, provide insights into issues of significance relating to it, and above all, reveal that though it can be dauntingly complex, we can arrive at a basic understanding of its nature.

The Party: The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers by Richard McGregor
Richard McGregor provides insight into China's Communist Party, showing how the Communist Party controls all aspects of civilian life: government, courts, media, and the military. Nowadays, the Party's decisions have a global impact.

The History of China by Kenneth Pletcher
This book covers the history of China itself including religions, ethnic groups, cities, languages, culinary traditions as well as the evolution of Chinese architecture. The events that transformed China from an imperial nation to a superpower are chronicled in this comprehensive volume.

On China by Henry Kissinger
Kissinger played a dominant role in United States foreign policy between 1969 and 1977, as national security adviser and secretary of state. For the past forty years, he saw China's evolution through four generations of leaders. This book was based on his own experience with Chinese leaders as well as historical records. It covers more than one hundred years of Chinese history, with a special focus on the 20th century. His insights on foreign policy and his personal rapport with top officials make this diplomatic history book both interesting and significant.

Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China by Ezra F. Vogel
This is a biography about China's great reform leader Deng Xiaoping. He was the man who ensured China would grow to be an economic giant after his death. His leadership of China is reviewed chronologically, beginning with his involvement in politics and economics and concluding with his efforts regarding social reforms and military relations.

China in Ten Words by Yu, Hua, Translated by Allan H. Barr
Based on his personal experience, author Yu Hua uses ten words to describe his homeland: People, Leader, Reading, Writing, LuXun (An influential author in early 20th century), Revolution, Disparity, Grassroots, Copycat, and Bamboozle. China in Ten Words details the country’s modern history and current situation. The book was published in Taiwan as opposed to China as this is a time period that Chinese leaders prefer people to overlook.

- Jean C.


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