A pacy history of China that can be read in an afternoon, but will transform your perspective for a lifetime.
From kung-fu to tofu, tea to trade routes, sages to silk, China has influenced cuisine, commerce, military strategy, aesthetics and philosophy across the world for thousands of years.
Chinese history is sprawling and gloriously messy. It is full of heroes who are also villains, prosperous ages and violent rebellions, cultural vibrancy and censorious impulses, rebels, loyalists, dissidents and wits. The story of women in China, from the earliest warriors to twentieth-century suffragettes, is rarely told. And historical spectres of corruption and disunity, which have brought down many a mighty ruling house, continue to haunt the People’s Republic today.
Modern China is seen variously as an economic powerhouse, an icon of urbanisation, a propaganda state or an aggressive superpower seeking world domination. Linda Jaivin distils a vast history into a short, readable account that tells you what you need to know, from China’s philosophical origins to its political system, to the COVID-19 pandemic and where the PRC is likely to lead the world.
Here’s what people are saying about The Shortest History of China
‘A fast-paced and witty survey of China’s past, written with spirit and verve. Jaivin knows her stuff but wears her erudition lightly. Iconoclastic, informative and more attentive to female figures than many comparable works. Highly recommended.’
—Jeffrey Wasserstrom, author of Vigil: Hong Kong on the Brink
‘An electrifying and erudite ride through Chinese history – Linda Jaivin has written an illuminating history book that is also a real page-turner.’
—Alice Pung, author of Unpolished Gem and Her Father’s Daughter
‘Read this in a fever-fuelled blitz, look up and I promise you China – and indeed, the world – will make more sense.’
—Benjamin Law, author of The Family Law and Gaysia
‘War, revolution, rise and fall, emperors, tyrants: China is more than a nation and bigger than a myth. It demands a great storyteller, and in Linda Jaivin, it has one.’
‘It’s no mean feat to cover the entire history of China in fifteen chapters, but Linda Jaivin manages it with panache. Succinct, lucid and with a keen eye for detail, this slim book is an indispensable primer on China.’
—Louisa Lim, author of The People’s Republic of Amnesia