China - Resource Bibliography

Publications - China

China - A History

By John Keay
Basic Books (2011)
608 Pages

Many nations define themselves in terms of territory or people; China defines itself in terms of history. Taking into account the country's unrivaled, voluminous tradition of history writing, John Keay has composed a vital and illuminating overview of the nation's complex and vivid past. Keay's authoritative history examines 5,000 years in China, from the time of the Three Dynasties through Chairman Mao and the current economic transformation of the country. Crisp, judicious, and engaging, China is the classic single-volume history for anyone seeking to understand the present and future of this immensely powerful nation.

 

An authoritative account of five thousand years of Chinese history!

The Early Chinese Empires - Qin and Han

By Mark Edward Lewis
Belknap Press (2010)
336 Pages

In 221 bc the First Emperor of Qin unified the lands that would become the heart of a Chinese empire. Though forged by conquest, this vast domain depended for its political survival on a fundamental reshaping of Chinese culture. With this informative book, we are present at the creation of an ancient imperial order whose major features would endure for two millennia.

The Qin and Han constitute the "classical period" of Chinese history--a role played by the Greeks and Romans in the West. Mark Edward Lewis highlights the key challenges faced by the court officials and scholars who set about governing an empire of such scale and diversity of peoples.

The first of a six-volume series on the history of imperial China, The Early Chinese Empires illuminates many formative events in China's long history of imperialism--events whose residual influence can still be discerned today.

China Between Empires - The Northern and Southern Dynasties

By Mark Edward Lewis
Belknap Press (2011)
352 Pages

After the collapse of the Han dynasty in the third century CE, China divided along a north-south line. Mark Lewis traces the changes that both underlay and resulted from this split in a period that saw the geographic redefinition of China, more engagement with the outside world, significant changes to family life, developments in the literary and social arenas, and the introduction of new religions.

By the time China was reunited by the Sui dynasty in 589 ce, the elite had been drawn into the state order, and imperial power had assumed a more transcendent nature. The Chinese were incorporated into a new world system in which they exchanged goods and ideas with states that shared a common Buddhist religion. The centuries between the Han and the Tang thus had a profound and permanent impact on the Chinese world.

China’s Cosmopolitan Empire - The Tang Dynasty 

By Mark Edward Lewis
Belknap Press (2012)
368 Pages

The Tang dynasty is often called China’s “golden age,” a period of commercial, religious, and cultural connections from Korea and Japan to the Persian Gulf, and a time of unsurpassed literary creativity. Mark Lewis captures a dynamic era in which the empire reached its greatest geographical extent under Chinese rule, painting and ceramic arts flourished, women played a major role both as rulers and in the economy, and China produced its finest lyric poets in Wang Wei, Li Bo, and Du Fu.

The Age of Confucian Rule - The Song Transformation of China

By Dieter Kuhn
Belknap Press (2009)
368 Pages

Just over a thousand years ago, the Song dynasty emerged as the most advanced civilization on earth. Within two centuries, China was home to nearly half of all humankind. In this concise history, we learn why the inventiveness of this era has been favorably compared with the European Renaissance, which in many ways the Song transformation surpassed.

With the chaotic dissolution of the Tang dynasty, the old aristocratic families vanished. A new class of scholar - officials - products of a meritocratic examination system - took up the task of reshaping Chinese tradition by adapting the precepts of Confucianism to a rapidly changing world.

The Troubled Empire - China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties

By Timothy Brook
Belknap Press (2010)
336 Pages

The Mongol takeover in the 1270s changed the course of Chinese history. The Confucian empire - a millennium and a half in the making - was suddenly thrust under foreign occupation. What China had been before its reunification as the Yuan dynasty in 1279 was no longer what it would be in the future. Four centuries later, another wave of steppe invaders would replace the Ming dynasty with yet another foreign occupation. The Troubled Empire explores what happened to China between these two dramatic invasions.

China's Last Empire - The Great Qing

By William T. Rowe
Belknap Press (2009)
368 Pages

In a brisk revisionist history, William Rowe challenges the standard narrative of Qing China as a decadent, inward-looking state that failed to keep pace with the modern West.

The Great Qing was the second major Chinese empire ruled by foreigners. Three strong Manchu emperors worked diligently to secure an alliance with the conquered Ming gentry, though many of their social edicts—especially the requirement that ethnic Han men wear queues—were fiercely resisted. As advocates of a “universal” empire, Qing rulers also achieved an enormous expansion of the Chinese realm over the course of three centuries, including the conquest and incorporation of Turkic and Tibetan peoples in the west, vast migration into the southwest, and the colonization of Taiwan.

1421 - The Year China Discovered the World

By Gavin Menzies
William Morrow (2008)
650 Pages

On March 8, 1421, the largest fleet the world had ever seen set sail from China to "proceed all the way to the ends of the earth to collect tribute from the barbarians beyond the seas." When the fleet returned home in October 1423, the emperor had fallen, leaving China in political and economic chaos. The great ships were left to rot at their moorings and the records of their journeys were destroyed. Lost in the long, self-imposed isolation that followed was the knowledge that Chinese ships had reached America seventy years before Columbus and had circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan. And they colonized America before the Europeans, transplanting the principal economic crops that have since fed and clothed the world.

1434

- The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance

By Gavin Menzies
William Morrow (2009)
416 Pages

The brilliance of the Renaissance laid the foundation of the modern world. Textbooks tell us that it came about as a result of a rediscovery of the ideas and ideals of classical Greece and Rome. But now bestselling historian Gavin Menzies makes the startling argument that in the year 1434, China—then the world's most technologically advanced civilization—provided the spark that set the European Renaissance ablaze. From that date onward, Europeans embraced Chinese ideas, discoveries, and inventions, all of which form the basis of Western civilization today.

Genghis Khan - His Conquests, His Empire, His Legacy

By Frank McLynn
Da Capo Press (2015)
704 Pages

Combining fast-paced accounts of battles with rich cultural background and the latest scholarship, Frank McLynn brings vividly to life the strange world of the Mongols and Genghis Khan's rise from boyhood outcast to world conqueror. McLynn provides the most accurate and absorbing account yet of one of the most powerful men ever to have ever lived.

A definitive and sweeping account of the life and times of the world's greatest conqueror--Genghis Khan--and the rise of the Mongol empire in the 13th century.

 

The Great Courses - China

 

Documentaries - China 

Wild China

2008 – BBC

The First Emperor of China was preparing an extravagant tomb for his journey into the afterlife, and decreed that he be protected forever by 8,000 terracotta warriors. Since then, no one has seen these ancient warriors in their original splendor, brightly painted and fully armed, ready to protect their Emperor for all eternity. Now this once mighty army will be returned to its former glory for the first time. 

China's First Emperor

2008 – History

This thought-provoking biographical program illuminates the fascinating life of Qin Shi Huangdi, "The First Magnificent Emperor of Qin," a man considered both influential and controversial in Chinese history. The ancient emperor's long list of accomplishments includes planning the construction of China's first Great Wall, building the world's largest burial site guarded by the famous Terracotta Army and amassing the most expansive empire of his time.

Emperor of the Seas

2008 – Discovery

Jang Bogo, also known as Gungbok, rose to prominence in Korea in the late Unified Silla period as a powerful maritime figure who for several decades effectively controlled the West Sea (Yellow Sea) and Korean coast between southwestern Korea and China's Shandong peninsula. His impressive fleet of ships was centered on the island of Wando off Korea's southwestern tip.

The True Story of Marco Polo

2008 – Nat Geo

Initially circulated in the 14th century, "The Travels of Marco Polo" gave Europeans a glimpse into Far Eastern mysteries. But if Polo was an emissary to Kublai Khan, why isn't he mentioned, as are other foreigners, in the Khan's meticulous records? We'll delve into the ongoing dispute over the Venetian's veracity and very existence.

China Rises

2008 – Discovery

Experience one of the most fascinating phenomena of our times - the rapid evolution of the world's most populous nation from a secluded land of mystery to an economic powerhouse welcoming the modern world. In this compelling four-part series, China Rises takes you inside this dynamic country

Secrets of the Forbidden City

2008 – BBC

It was the inner sanctum and pulsating heart of the Chinese Empire. Today it is modern China's greatest tourist attraction, Beijing's Forbidden City. For 500 years, it served as the home of the almighty Emperors of China, along with their wives, concubines, and entourages of ten of thousands of eunuchs and civil servants.

When China Ruled the Waves

2008 – History

This program chronicles the history of the great Ming Dynasty ‘treasure’ ships. Built in the early 15th century these ships gave China the capability of exploring and perhaps conquering the ‘world’.

The re-enactment of one of the “Treasure Fleet” voyages is the background for a description and discussion of the reign of the Emperor Zhu Di and the career of his admiral Zheng He.

Eastern Philosophy

2002 – Kultur

Exploring such themes as the nature of man, the existence of God, and good and evil, this informative program examines the birth of spiritual thought through the teachings of Hinduism, Confucianism, Shinto and Islam. Using on-location footage, authentic re-creations and commentary from philosophy experts, the three-part series aims to investigate central questions and illuminate viewers with cultural and historical insight.

Secrets of China's First Emperor

2008 – Koch

This thought-provoking biographical program illuminates the fascinating life of Qin Shi Huangdi, "The First Magnificent Emperor of Qin," a man considered both influential and controversial in Chinese history. The ancient emperor's long list of accomplishments includes planning the construction of China's first Great Wall, building the world's largest burial site guarded by the famous Terracotta Army and amassing the most expansive empire of his time.

The Great Wall of China

2008 - Demand Media

It was created by one man, the great General Qi, inspired to protect his nation after the Mongols had invaded and reached the Forbidden City. This compelling film, featuring a cast of thousands and stunning CGI, dramatizes events surrounding the construction of the wall through the eyes of the General, a construction worker and one of the powerbrokers involved in the politics of the Great Wall.

Biography – Confucius

2005 – A&E

Kong Qui, better known as Confucius, was born in 551 B.C. in the Lu state of China (near present-day Qufu). ... He died in 479 B.C. Confucianism later became the official imperial philosophy of China, and was extremely influential during the Han, Tang and Song dynasties.

Theatrical Features

 

Mulan- Rise of a Warrior (2009)

When barbarian hordes threaten her homeland, the brave and cunning Mulan disguises herself as a male soldier to swell the ranks in her aging father's stead. The warrior's remarkable courage drives her through powerful battle scenes and brutal wartime strategy. Mulan loses dear friends to the enemy's blade as she rises to become one of her country's most valuable leaders - but can she win the war before her secret is exposed?

Mongol

(2007)

This fact-based epic traces the early and tumultuous years of legendary warrior Genghis Khan, then known as Temudgin (Tadanobu Asano). Despite the killing of his father, the betrayal of his friend, and even being forced to serve as a slave, Temudgin still creates his own path for future greatness. He hones his battle skills and marries Borte (Khulan Chuluun), whose love and reliability are crucial, often overlooked elements to his historic success as a conqueror.

Marco Polo

(2007)

Assigned to accompany two priests on a mission to convert the court of Kublai Khan to Christianity, Marco Polo is abandoned in the mountains when the priests, doubting the very existence of China, turn back. Polo eventually pushes bravely forth alone toward the fabled country where he is accepted as an envoy into Khan's court. Marooned on the far side of the world, Polo, accompanied by his servant, Pedro, advances as a Mongol grandee for twenty extraordinary years. What he eventually brings back with him to the West is a chronicle that changed history forever.

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