China's Imperial Past: An Introduction to Chinese History and Culture

China's Imperial Past: An Introduction to Chinese History and Culture

Paperback

By (author) Charles O. Hucker

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  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Format: Paperback | 492 pages
  • Dimensions: 150mm x 224mm x 28mm | 658g
  • Publication date: 1 January 1995
  • Publication City/Country: Palo Alto
  • ISBN 10: 0804723532
  • ISBN 13: 9780804723534
  • Edition: New edition
  • Edition statement: New edition
  • Illustrations note: 47 half-tones 8 maps
  • Sales rank: 573,312

Product description

A work unique in the sweep of its design and scope, intended expressly for the general reader interested in human history and culture, this is a vivid panoramic survey of the vast course of Chinese civilization from prehistory to 1850, when the old China began the agonizing transition to the new. Historical surveys of China tend to be dynasty-by-dynasty chronicles with a profusion of names and dates and occaisional cultural tidbits, or to concentrate on the period from earliest times to the Han dynasty (or the T'ang), giving only scant coverage to the last thousand years. China's Imperial Past is different. Not only does it treat the three major periods of Chinese history at roughly equal length, weaving all their complexity into a balanced, integrated whole, but it gives ample space to China's magnificent literary and artistic achievements. The author's approach is primarily interpretive, emphasizing patterns of change and development rather than factual details, but he never loses sight of the particularities that made traditional Chinese civilization one of the richest in human history. Especially notable are the many translations of Chinese poetry, among them more than twenty exquisite poems from the great poets of the T'ang. The author divides Chinese history into three major epochs: a formative age, from high antiquity to the unification of China under the Ch'in in the third century B.C.; an early imperial age, from the Han dynasty (202 B.C.-A.D. 220) through the T'ang (618-907) and its breakdown; and a later imperial age, from the Sung dynasty (960-1279) to the mid-nineteenth century. Each major epoch is considered in topical chapters - on general history, political institutions, socioeconomic organization, religion and thought, and literature and the arts. A brief Epilogue comments on aspects of Chinese history since 1850. The book includes 47 plates, eight maps, and various charts, and as appendixes and unusually detailed chronological table, notes on the Chines language, and suggestions for supplementary reading.

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Review quote

"An admirable success. It is the embodiment of great Sinological acumen and experience and of a lovingly painstaking scholarship, beautifully presented. Moreover, it is a book that deploys its learning gracefully and succinctly, with a rhetorical modesty that is likely to wear very well on its many future readers... Professor Hucker has produced a most attractive harvest of the many labors of his distinguished scholarship and teaching career, and we should be grateful." - Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies "The book is an impressive tour de force of skillful organization, clarity, and precision; the style is quiet, concise, and unambiguous. Hucker's coverage is strikingly comprehensive... His incorporation of the major findings and issues of recent research is meticulous and well proportioned." - The Journal of Asian Studies "The genius of the book lies in its organization... It is arranged in such a way that one can read it straight through for a comprehensive view of China's past; or one can read it topically, as a record of major events, or as a political-institutional history, or socio-economic history, or the history of ideas, or literary or art history... It is an eminently sound introduction to its subject, a work compiled with evident thought and care." - History "China's Imperial Past, by Charles O. Hucker, is the best introduction to Chinese culture from earliest times to the 19th century." - Diversion "[The] achievement of Professor Hucker is a formidable one. His work is a beautifully balanced one, organized with logic and clarity. His interpretations, if leaning to the safe side, are invariably sound. His erudition is carried lightly and there is found throughout, an awareness of the needs of the student... In sum, Hucker has produced a readable and comprehensive text. It will undoubtedly become a standard in college courses and it can be highly recommended to anyone who seeks a solid yet painless introduction to the civilization of traditional China." - Monumenta Serica (Germany)

Back cover copy

"An admirable success. It is the embodiment of great Sinological acumen and experience and of a lovingly painstaking scholarship, beautifully presented. Moreover, it is a book that deploys its learning gracefully and succinctly, with a rhetorical modesty that is likely to wear very well on its many future readers. . . . Professor Hucker has produced a most attractive harvest of the many labors of his distinguished scholarship and teaching career, and we should be grateful."--Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies "The book is an impressive tour de force of skillful organization, clarity, and precision; the style is quiet, concise, and unambiguous. Hucker's coverage is strikingly comprehensive. . . . His incorporation of the major findings and issues of recent research is meticulous and well proportioned."--The Journal of Asian Studies

Flap copy

A work unique in the sweep of its design and scope, intended expressly for the general reader interested in human history and culture, this is a vivid panoramic survey of the vast course of Chinese civilization from prehistory to 1850, when the old China began the agonizing transition to the new. Historical surveys of China tend to be dynasty-by-dynasty chronicles with a profusion of names and dates and occaisional cultural tidbits, or to concentrate on the period from earliest times to the Han dynasty (or the T'ang), giving only scant coverage to the last thousand years. China's Imperial Pastis different. Not only does it treat the three major periods of Chinese history at roughly equal length, weaving all their complexity into a balanced, integrated whole, but it gives ample space to China's magnificent literary and artistic achievements. The author's approach is primarily interpretive, emphasizing patterns of change and development rather than factual details, but he never loses sight of the particularities that made traditional Chinese civilization one of the richest in human history. Especially notable are the many translations of Chinese poetry, among them more than twenty exquisite poems from the great poets of the T'ang. The author divides Chinese history into three major epochs: a formative age, from high antiquity to the unification of China under the Ch'in in the third century B.C.; an early imperial age, from the Han dynasty (202 B.C.-A.D. 220) through the T'ang (618-907) and its breakdown; and a later imperial age, from the Sung dynasty (960-1279) to the mid-nineteenth century. Each major epoch is considered in topical chapters--on general history, political institutions, socioeconomic organization, religion and thought, and literature and the arts. A brief Epilogue comments on aspects of Chinese history since 1850. The book includes 47 plates, eight maps, and various charts, and as appendixes and unusually detailed chronological table, notes on the Chines language, and suggestions for supplementary reading.

Table of contents

Introduction; Part I. The formative age, prehistory-206 BC; 1. General history; 2. State and society; 3. Thought; 34. Literature and art; Part II. The Early Empire, 206 BC-AD 960: 5. General history; 6. Government; 7. Society and the economy; 8. Thought; 9. Literature and art; Part III. The Later Empire, 960-1850: 10. General history; 11. Government; 12. Society and the economy; 13. Thought; 14. Literature and art; Epilogue.