Thursday, February 3, 2011

Book Comments: China. A History

Action, homicide, revolution, treason, intrigue, heroes & villains, blood and thunder. You will find all that and much more in just one book: "China. A History", written by John Keay. It`s not just another history book, it`s a thriller, but not based on fiction, and instead on the recorded ups and downs of a gigantic nation.

China is rising and will soon rule the world, the media tells us.  This books shows - and explains - why the awakening "of the dragon" is just a comeback.  For example, in the 16th century China was the largest and wealthiest nation on Earth. The Asian giant had many "golden ages"  before then. The Han Empire (202 BC till AD 220) was as large as the coeval Roman empire, and China`s brightness lasted until the end of the millennium, not just half way through it. But for China, after each "golden age" came a deep fall.

The history of China is as colourful as a Chinese New Year Parade. It´s also a tale about fights, and a permanent struggle about power. Keay describes the many battles between the "Kingdom of the Middle" and her neighbours, the clashes between emperors and their usurpers or families about dominance. Very often the rulers struggled with the bureaucrats, who were eunuchs. Most of the time the administration was the true ruler of the vast empire.

The giant struggles China had to suffer in over 2,500 years brought the world many gifts. China invented paper, book printing (before the Gutenberg Bible), the compass, banknotes (paper money), kites (ancestors of airplanes), rockets, noodles and much more.

"China. A History" is highly recommend, not just for historians or students of economics and politics, it helps everybody to understand why the globe is changing again now.  And - it is an exciting read.

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