60+ Books on China That You Should be Reading

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Here is a reading list of the must-read China books in selected genre including The Four Chinese Classics, Culture, Geopolitics, Politics, Corporate and Business, Economics, Personal Perspectives, Sociology, Philosophy, History, Modern History, and Military – History & Strategy.

Many of these that I’ve yet to read will be on my reading wish-list for 2018/2019. All of these are available on Amazon.

Descriptions and summary are those of the authors.

The Four Chinese Classics

The Story of the Stone, or Dream of the Red Chamber (紅樓夢) – Book Series (5 Books)
by Cao Xueqin, David Hawkes
Divided into five volumes, The Story of the Stone charts the glory and decline of the illustrious Jia family. This novel re-creates the ritualized hurly-burly of Chinese family life that would otherwise be lost and infuses it with lost and infuses it with affirming Buddhist belief.

 

The Water Margin: Outlaws of the Marsh
by Shi Naian and J.H. Jackson
Based upon the historical bandit Song Jiang and his companions, this Chinese equivalent of the English classic Robin Hood and His Merry Men is an epic tale of rebellion against tyranny and has been thrilling and inspiring readers for hundreds of years. This edition of the classic J. H. Jackson translation features a new preface and introduction by Edwin Lowe, which gives the history of the book and puts the story into perspective for modern readers.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms 三国演义
by Luo Guanzhong (Author), C. H. Brewitt-Taylor (Translator)
Romance of the Three Kingdoms, attributed to Luo Guanzhong, is a historical novel set in the turbulent years towards the end of the Han dynasty and the Three Kingdoms period in Chinese history, starting in 169 AD and ending with the reunification of the land in 280. The story – part historical, part legend, and part mythical – romanticises and dramatises the lives of feudal lords and their retainers, who tried to replace the dwindling Han dynasty or restore it. While the novel follows hundreds of characters, the focus is mainly on the three power blocs that emerged from the remnants of the Han dynasty, and would eventually form the three states of Cao Wei, Shu Han, and Eastern Wu. The novel deals with the plots, personal and military battles, intrigues, and struggles of these states to achieve dominance for almost 100 years.

Journey to the West 西游记 (4 Volumes)
by Anthony C. Yu (Editor, Translator)
Anthony C. Yu’s translation of The Journey to the West,initially published in 1983, introduced English-speaking audiences to the classic Chinese novel in its entirety for the first time. Written in the sixteenth century, The Journey to the West tells the story of the fourteen-year pilgrimage of the monk Xuanzang, one of China’s most famous religious heroes, and his three supernatural disciples, in search of Buddhist scriptures. Throughout his journey, Xuanzang fights demons who wish to eat him, communes with spirits, and traverses a land riddled with a multitude of obstacles, both real and fantastical. An adventure rich with danger and excitement, this seminal work of the Chinese literary canonis by turns allegory, satire, and fantasy.

Culture

 

Insights into Chinese Culture
by Ye Lang (Author), Zhu Liangzhi (Author)
For readers both at home and abroad who have some basic knowledge of the Chinese language and are interested in Chinese culture. Detailed and vivid introduction to certain unique features and highlights of Chinese culture, enclosing 37 chapters (e.g. the four great inventions of ancient China, architecture, cuisine, martial art, etc.). Insights into Chinese Culture English version), have seized lots of features and lightspots in Chinese culture, uses typical cases and materials to introduce Chinese cultural spirit and its internal meaning and core value. The book shows the spirit world, cultural personality, life attitude and aesthetic taste of Chinese people and it also displays that Chinese people who respect nature, expect a plentiful life, pray for peace and love life.

Great Books of China: From Ancient Times to the Present
by Frances Wood (Author)
Great Books of China invites readers to discover―or rediscover―some of the major achievements of Chinese culture and civilization. The literature of China remains largely unknown in the West, yet it offers much insight into Chinese life. The long continuity of Chinese culture means that texts created more than two thousand years ago are still part of the education and background of today’s China. Great Books of China introduces outstanding works of various genres, from fiction, drama, and poetry to history, science, and travel; they were written by philosophers and artists, government officials and scholars, by men and women across many centuries and from every part of China. These great books are presented in their historic, cultural, and social context, with a focused summary of content and author.

The Chinese Mind: Understanding Traditional Chinese Beliefs and Their Influence on Contemporary Culture
by Boye Lafayette De Mente
The Chinese Mind pinpoints areas of China’s traditional values and behaviors that play a significant role in the business and social relationships of the Chinese. It also identifies key areas of Chinese culture that have changed as a result of the adoption of a market-based economy and other elements of Western culture. It includes discussion topics and questions, along with an extensive selection of Chinese “code words” that explain the essence and role of key elements of the traditional culture that have survived into modern times. Covering everything from the importance of Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher, to the influence of foreign fast food and video games, this book provides a wide-ranging glimpse into the seemingly opaque Chinese mind.

China: Portrait of a People
by Tom Carter
From the subtropical jungles of Yunnan to the frozen wastes of Heilongjiang; across the scalding deserts of Xinjiang and beneath Hong Kong’s neon blur.  Tramping through China by train, bus, boat, motorcycle, mule or hitching on the back of anything that moved.  On a budget so scant that he drew sympathetic stares from peasants. Backpacking photographer Tom Carter somehow succeeded in circumnavigating over 35,000 miles (56,000 kilometers) across all 33 provinces in China during a 2-year period, the first foreigner on record ever to do so.

Geopolitics

 

The 100-Year Marathon
by Michael Pillsbury
Based on interviews with Chinese defectors and newly declassified, previously undisclosed national security documents, The Hundred-Year Marathon reveals China’s secret strategy to supplant the United States as the world’s dominant power, and to do so by 2049, the one-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic. Michael Pillsbury, a fluent Mandarin speaker who has served in senior national security positions in the U.S. government since the days of Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, draws on his decades of contact with the “hawks” in China’s military and intelligence agencies and translates their documents, speeches, and books to show how the teachings of traditional Chinese statecraft underpin their actions.

The China Fantasy
by James Mann
One of our most perceptive China experts, James Mann wrote The China Fantasy as a vital wake-up call to all who are ignorant of America’s true relationship with the Asian giant. For years, our leaders posited that China could be drawn to increasing liberalization through the power of the free market, but Mann asked us to consider a very real alternative: What if China’s economy continues to expand but its government remains as dismissive of democracy and human rights as it is now?

On China
by Henry Kissinger
In this sweeping and insightful history, Henry Kissinger turns for the first time at book length to a country he has known intimately for decades and whose modern relations with the West he helped shape. On China illuminates the inner workings of Chinese diplomacy during such pivotal events as the initial encounters between China and tight line modern European powers, the formation and breakdown of the Sino-Soviet alliance, the Korean War, and Richard Nixon’s historic trip to Beijing. With a new final chapter on the emerging superpower’s twenty-first-century role in global politics and economics, On China provides historical perspective on Chinese foreign affairs from one of the premier statesmen of our time.

Dealing With China
by Former US Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr
Hank Paulson has dealt with China unlike any other foreigner. As head of Goldman Sachs, Paulson had a pivotal role in opening up China to private enterprise. Then, as Treasury secretary, he created the Strategic Economic Dialogue with what is now the world’s second-largest economy. He negotiated with China on needed economic reforms, while safeguarding the teetering U.S. financial system. Over his career, Paulson has worked with scores of top Chinese leaders, including Xi Jinping, China’s most powerful man in decades.

Asia’s Cauldron
by Robert D. Kaplan
In Asia’s Cauldron, Robert D. Kaplan offers up a vivid snapshot of the nations surrounding the South China Sea, the conflicts brewing in the region at the dawn of the twenty-first century, and their implications for global peace and stability. One of the world’s most perceptive foreign policy experts, Kaplan interprets America’s interests in Asia in the context of an increasingly assertive China. He explains how the region’s unique geography fosters the growth of navies but also impedes aggression. And he draws a striking parallel between China’s quest for hegemony in the South China Sea and the United States’ imperial adventure in the Caribbean more than a century ago.

Everything Under the Heavens How the Past Helps Shape China’s Push for Global Power
by Howard W. French
For many years after its reform and opening in 1978, China maintained an attitude of false modesty about its ambitions. That façade, reports former New York Times Asia correspondent Howard French, has now been cast off. China is increasingly asserting its place among the global powers, signaling its plans for pan-Asian dominance by building its navy, increasing territorial claims to areas like the South China Sea, and diplomatically bullying smaller players. Underlying this attitude is the millennia-old concept of tian xia, which held that everything “under the heavens” fell within the influence of the Chinese empire.

When China Rules the World  The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order: Second Edition 
by Martin Jacques
Since the first publication of When China Rules the World, the landscape of world power has shifted dramatically. In the three years since the first edition was published, When China Rules the World has proved to be a remarkably prescient book, transforming the nature of the debate on China. Now, in this greatly expanded and fully updated edition, boasting nearly 300 pages of new material, and backed up by the latest statistical data, Martin Jacques renews his assault on conventional thinking about China’s ascendancy, showing how its impact will be as much political and cultural as economic, changing the world as we know it.

China’s Second Continent
by Howard French
Chinese immigrants of the recent past and unfolding twenty-first century are in search of the African dream. So explains indefatigable traveler Howard W. French, prize-winning investigative journalist and former New York Times bureau chief in Africa and China, in the definitive account of this seismic geopolitical development. China’s burgeoning presence in Africa is already shaping, and reshaping, the future of millions of people. From Liberia to Senegal to Mozambique, in creaky trucks and by back roads, French introduces us to the characters who make up China’s dogged emigrant population: entrepreneurs singlehandedly reshaping African infrastructure, and less-lucky migrants barely scraping by but still convinced of Africa’s opportunities.

The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom: America and China, 1776 to the Present 
by John Pomfret
A Remarkable History of the Two-Centuries-Old Relationship Between the United States and China, from the Revolutionary War to the Present Day. From the clipper ships that ventured to Canton hauling cargos of American ginseng to swap for Chinese tea, and the Yankee missionaries who brought Christianity and education to China, to the Chinese who built the American West, the United States and China have always been dramatically intertwined. While we tend to think of America’s ties with China as starting in 1972 with the visit of President Richard Nixon to China, the patterns—rapturous enchantment followed by angry disillusionment—were set in motion hundreds of years earlier.

Foreign Relations of the PRC: The Legacies and Constraints of China’s International Politics since 1949 2nd Edition 
by Robert G. Sutter
This cogent but comprehensive book examines the international relations of the People’s Republic of China since its founding in 1949. Noted scholar Robert G. Sutter provides a balanced assessment of the country’s recent successes and advances as well as the important legacies and constraints that hamper it, especially in nearby Asia—long the focus of China’s foreign policy attention.

Asian Waters: The Struggle Over the South China Sea and the Strategy of Chinese Expansion 1st Edition
by Humphrey Hawksley
In Asian Waters, award-winning foreign correspondent Humphrey Hawksley breaks down the politics―and tensions―that he has followed through this region for years. Reporting on decades of political developments, he has witnessed China’s rise to become one of the world’s most wealthy and militarized countries, and delivers in Asian Waters the compelling narrative of this most volatile region.

China and the International Order 
by Michael J. Mazarr, Timothy R. Heath, Astrid Stuth Cevallos
As economic power diffuses across more countries and China becomes more dependent on the world economy, Chinese leaders are being forced to abandon their largely passive approach to global governance. This report analyzes China’s interests and behavior to evaluate both the recent history of its interactions with the postwar international order and possible future trajectories. It also draws implications from that analysis for future U.S. policy.

Politics

 

The Party
by Richard McGregor
China’s Communist Party is the largest, most powerful political machine in the world. Here, for the first time, Richard McGregor delves deeply into its inner sanctum, revealing how this secretive cabal keeps control of every aspect of the country – its military and media, legal system and businesses, even its religious organizations. How has the Party merged Marx, Mao and the market to create a global superpower?

 

Chinese Politics in the Xi Jinping Era: Reassessing Collective Leadership
By Cheng Li
Chinese Politics in the Xi Jinping Era examines how the structure and dynamics of party leadership have evolved since the late 1990s and argues that “inner-party democracy”—the concept of collective leadership that emphasizes deal making based on accepted rules and norms—may pave the way for greater transformation within China’s political system. Xi’s legacy will largely depend on whether he encourages or obstructs this trend of political institutionalization in the governance of the world’s most populous and increasingly pluralistic country.

Out of Mao’s Shadow: The Struggle for the Soul of a New China
by Philip Pan
Out of Mao’s Shadow offers a startling perspective on China and its remarkable transformation, challenging conventional wisdom about the political apathy of the Chinese people and the notion that prosperity leads automatically to freedom. Like David Remnick’s Lenin’s Tomb, this is a moving story of a nation in transition, of a people coming to terms with their past and struggling to take control of their future.

Xi Jinping: The Governance of China Volume 1 & 2
by Xi Jinping
The first published work by a sitting Chinese President, Xi Jinping: The Governance of China offers a unique look inside the Communist Party of China and its vision for the future. The book presents excerpts and summaries of 79 speeches, talks, interviews, instructions and correspondences in 18 chapters. Each item is accompanied by relevant notes about China’s social system, history and culture. The book includes 45 photos taken at various stages of Xi’s life, which provide readers with more information about his career and personal life.

The SAGE Handbook of Contemporary China 1st Edition
by Weiping Wu (Editor), Mark W. Frazier (Editor)
The study of contemporary China constitutes a fascinating yet challenging area of scholarly inquiry. Recent decades have brought dramatic changes to China′s economy, society and governance. Analyzing such changes in the context of multiple disciplinary perspectives offers opportunities as well as challenges for scholars in the field known as contemporary China Studies. The SAGE Handbook of Contemporary China is a two-volume exploration of the transformations of contemporary China, firmly grounded in the both disciplinary and China-specific contexts.

Where the Party Rules: The Rank and File of China’s Communist State 
by Daniel Koss
In most non-democratic countries, today governing forty-four percent of the world population, the power of the regime rests upon a ruling party. Contrasting with conventional notions that authoritarian regime parties serve to contain elite conflict and manipulate electoral-legislative processes, this book presents the case of China and shows that rank and-file members of the Communist Party allow the state to penetrate local communities. Subnational comparative analysis demonstrates that in ‘red areas’ with high party saturation, the state is most effectively enforcing policy and collecting taxes. Newly available evidence from the Great Leap Forward (1958-1961) and the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) shows how a strong local party basis sustained the regime in times of existential crisis.

Corporate and Business

 

Mr. China
by Tim Clissold
Mr. China tells the rollicking story of a young man who goes to China with the misguided notion that he will help bring the Chinese into the modern world, only to be schooled by the most resourceful and creative operators he would ever meet. Part memoir, part parable, Mr. China is one man’s coming-of-age story where he learns to respect and admire the nation he sought to conquer.

 

Chinese Rules
by Tim Clissold
From the author of the acclaimed Mr. China comes another rollicking adventure story—part memoir, part history, part business imbroglio—that offers valuable lessons to help Westerners win in China. In the twenty-first century, the world has tilted eastwards in its orbit; China grows confident while the West seems mired in doubt. Having lived and worked in China for more than two decades, Tim Clissold explains the secrets that Westerners can use to navigate through its cultural and political maze. Picking up where he left off in the international bestseller Mr. China, Chinese Rules chronicles his most recent exploits, with assorted Chinese bureaucrats, factory owners, and local characters building a climate change business in China.

Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built
by Duncan Clark
In just a decade and half Jack Ma, a man who rose from humble beginnings and started his career as an English teacher, founded and built Alibaba into the second largest Internet company in the world. The company’s $25 billion IPO in 2014 was the world’s largest, valuing the company more than Facebook or Coca Cola. Alibaba today runs the e-commerce services that hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers depend on every day, providing employment and income for tens of millions more. A Rockefeller of his age, Jack has become an icon for the country’s booming private sector, and as the face of the new, consumerist China is courted by heads of state and CEOs from around the world

One Billion Customers
by James McGregor
Companies from around the globe are flocking to China to buy, sell, manufacture, and create new products, but as former Wall Street Journal China bureau chief turned successful corporate executive James McGregor explains, business in China is never quite what it seems. One Billion Customers offers compelling narratives of personalities, business deals, and lessons learned, creating a coherent pictures of China’s emergence as a global economic power with a dog-eat-dog business climate that has turned bureaucrats into billionaires and left many foreign business executives with their pockets turned inside out.

One Hour China Book 
by Jeffrey Towson, Jonathan Woetzel
This is the China book for everyone – whether an expert or novice. It can be read in an hour and gives you most of what you need to know about China business today – and its increasing impact on the rest of the world. This small “speed-read” book is the distilled knowledge of two Peking University business professors with over 30 years of experience on the ground in China and the emerging markets. According to authors Jeffrey Towson and Jonathan Woetzel, “if we had the undivided attention of someone from Ohio, Brighton or Lima for just one hour, this little book is what we would say.”

Economics

 

China’s Economy: What Everyone Needs to Know
by Arthur Kroeber
China’s Economy: What Everyone Needs to Know® is a concise introduction to the most astonishing economic growth story of the last three decades. In the 1980s China was an impoverished backwater, struggling to escape the political turmoil and economic mismanagement of the Mao era. Today it is the world’s second biggest economy, the largest manufacturing and trading nation, the consumer of half the world’s steel and coal, the biggest source of international tourists, and one of the most influential investors in developing countries from southeast Asia to Africa to Latin America.

From Commune to Capitalism: How China’s Peasants Lost Collective Farming and Gained Urban Poverty 
by Zhun Xu
In the early 1980s, China undertook a massive reform that dismantled its socialist rural collectives and divided the land among millions of small peasant families. Known as the decollectivization campaign, it is one of the most significant reforms in China’s transition to a market economy. From the beginning, the official Chinese accounts, and many academic writings, uncritically portray this campaign as a huge success, both for the peasants and the economy as a whole. This mainstream history argues that the rural communes, suffering from inefficiency, greatly improved agricultural productivity under the decollectivization reform. It also describes how the peasants, due to their dissatisfaction with the rural regime, spontaneously organized and collectively dismantled the collective system.

Personal Perspectives

 

Chinese Lessons
by John Pomfret
A first-hand account of the remarkable transformation of China over the past forty years as seen through the life of an award-winning journalist and his four Chinese classmates. As a twenty-year-old exchange student from Stanford University, John Pomfret spent a year at Nanjing University in China. His fellow classmates were among those who survived the twin tragedies of Mao’s rule―the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution―and whose success in government and private industry today are shaping China’s future. Pomfret went on to a career in journalism, spending the bulk of his time in China. After attending the twentieth reunion of his class, he decided to reacquaint himself with some of his classmates. Chinese Lessons is their story and his own.

Oracle Bones 
by Peter Hessler
A century ago, outsiders saw China as a place where nothing ever changes. Today the country has become one of the most dynamic regions on earth. In Oracle Bones, Peter Hessler explores the human side of China’s transformation, viewing modern-day China and its growing links to the Western world through the lives of a handful of ordinary people. In a narrative that gracefully moves between the ancient and the present, the East and the West, Hessler captures the soul of a country that is undergoing a momentous change before our eyes.

Decoding China 
by Matthew B. Christensen
Embrace the culture and get the most out of your time in China. Going to China for the first time can be an intimidating experience, even for those who have studied the language. In fact, traveling to China for the second, third, or fourth time can also be a challenging experience, especially if you intend to be fully immersed in daily life, get off the beaten path, and experience the “real” China.

Decoding the Rise of China: Taiwanese and Japanese Perspectives
by Tse-Kang Leng (Editor), Rumi Aoyama (Editor)
This edited collection provides a synthetic analysis of the rise of contemporary China and its impact on the current global system from a range of Asian and Western perspectives. Highlighting Taiwanese and Japanese viewpoints, the book considers a macro, integrated vision of the rise of China and examines the vital cultural factors which link domestic politics and foreign policy in the Sino-Japanese relationship. The book addresses key policy matters, such as the internationalization of the Chinese currency and Arctic diplomacy, and provides a key reference on contemporary Chinese foreign policy and the Sino-Japanese relationship for students, academics experts and policy makers in the field of Area Studies, History and International Relations.

Tiger Head, Snake Tails
by Jonathan Fenby
The imminent collapse of the People’s Republic of China has been foretold for years. Just as often, though, it has been predicted to be the future ruler of the world. But despite the endless stream of soothsayers, there has been no single book that pulls together the whole of the China story, linking its very disparate elements to present a coherent portrait that explains what China is and why it matters so much. In this compelling and lucid account based on years of research and first-hand experience, rooted in on-the-ground reporting, interviews, observations, and a viewpoint that sees the country from the inside out, leading journalist and China expert Jonathan Fenby links the myriad features of today’s rapidly evolving China.

“Socialism Is Great!” A Worker’s Memoir of the New China
by Lijia Zhang
With a great charm and spirit, “Socialism Is Great!” recounts Lijia Zhang’s rebellious journey from disillusioned factory worker to organizer in support of the Tiananmen Square demonstrators, to eventually become the writer and journalist she always determined to be. Her memoir is like a brilliant miniature illuminating the sweeping historical forces at work in China after the Cultural Revolution as the country moved from one of stark repression to a vibrant, capitalist economy.

China Dream
by Ma Jian
A poetic and unflinching fable about tyranny, guilt, and the erasure of history, by the banned Chinese writer hailed as ‘China’s Solzhenitsyn’. In seven dream-like episodes, Ma Jian charts the psychological disintegration of a Chinese provincial leader who is haunted by nightmares of his violent past. From exile, Ma Jian shoots an arrow at President Xi Jinping’s ‘China Dream’ propaganda, creating a biting satire of totalitarianism that reveals what happens to a nation when it is blinded by materialism and governed by violence and lies. Blending tragic and absurd reality with myth and fantasy, this dystopian novel is a portrait not of an imagined future, but of China today.

Sociology

 

Wish Lanterns
by Alec Ash
Wish Lanterns offers a deep dive into the life stories of six young Chinese. Dahai is a military child, netizen, and self-styled loser. Xiaoxiao is a hipster from the freezing north. “Fred,” born on the tropical southern island of Hainan, is the daughter of a Party official, while Lucifer is a would-be international rock star. Snail is a country boy and Internet gaming addict, and Mia is a fashionista rebel from far west Xinjiang. Following them as they grow up, go to college, find work and love, all the while navigating the pressure of their parents and society, Wish Lanterns paints a vivid portrait of Chinese youth culture and of a millennial generation whose struggles and dreams reflect the larger issues confronting China today.

The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao 
by Ian Johnson
The Souls of China tells the story of one of the world’s great spiritual revivals.  Following a century of violent anti-religious campaigns, China is now filled with new temples, churches, and mosques—as well as cults, sects, and politicians trying to harness religion for their own ends. Driving this explosion of faith is uncertainty—over what it means to be Chinese and how to live an ethical life in a country that discarded traditional morality a century ago and is searching for new guideposts.

Leftover in China: The Women Shaping the World’s Next Superpower
by Roseann Lake
Factory Girls meets The Vagina Monologues in this fascinating narrative on China’s single women―and why they could be the source of its economic future. Forty years ago, China enacted the one-child policy, only recently relaxed. Among many other unintended consequences, it resulted in both an enormous gender imbalance―with a predicted twenty million more men than women of marriage age by 2020―and China’s first generations of only-daughters. Given the resources normally reserved for boys, these girls were pushed to study, excel in college, and succeed in careers, as if they were sons.

China Witness Voices from a Silent Generation
by Xinran
Xinran, acclaimed author of The Good Women of China, traveled across China seeking out the nation’s grandparents and great-grandparents, the men and women who experienced firsthand the tremendous changes of the modern era. Although many of them feared repercussions, they spoke with stunning candor about their hopes, fears, and struggles, and about what they witnessed: from the Long March to land reform, from Mao to marriage, from revolution to Westernization. In the same way that Studs Terkel’s Working and Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation gave us the essence of very particular times, China Witness gives us the essence of modern China—a portrait more intimate, nuanced, and revelatory than any we have had before.

Street of Eternal Happiness
by Rob Schmitz
An unforgettable portrait of individuals who hope, struggle, and grow along a single street cutting through the heart of China’s most exhilarating metropolis, from one of the most acclaimed broadcast journalists reporting on China today.

The Corpse Walker: Real Life Stories: China From the Bottom Up
by Liao Yiwu
The Corpse Walker introduces us to regular men and women at the bottom of Chinese society, most of whom have been battered by life but have managed to retain their dignity: a professional mourner, a human trafficker, a public toilet manager, a leper, a grave robber, and a Falung Gong practitioner, among others. By asking challenging questions with respect and empathy, Liao Yiwu managed to get his subjects to talk openly and sometimes hilariously about their lives, desires, and vulnerabilities, creating a book that is an instance par excellence of what was once upon a time called “The New Journalism.” The Corpse Walker reveals a fascinating aspect of modern China, describing the lives of normal Chinese citizens in ways that constantly provoke and surprise.

Wild Grass: Three Portraits of Change in Modern China
by Ian Johnson
In Wild Grass, Pulitzer Prize—winning journalist Ian Johnson tells the stories of three ordinary Chinese citizens moved to extraordinary acts of courage: a peasant legal clerk who filed a class-action suit on behalf of overtaxed farmers, a young architect who defended the rights of dispossessed homeowners, and a bereaved woman who tried to find out why her elderly mother had been beaten to death in police custody. Representing the first cracks in the otherwise seamless façade of Communist Party control, these small acts of resistance demonstrate the unconquerable power of the human conscience and prophesy an increasingly open political future for China.

Under Red Skies: Three Generations of Life, Loss, and Hope in China 
by Karoline Kan
Under Red Skies is an examination of the generational bonds and divisions of the Kan family and the panoramic effects of China’s changing societal norms and fast-growing economy, where some succeed and others are destined to fail. Kan tells the inspiring stories of her grandfather, who secretly hid government portions of rice in his hat to prevent his children from starving in the years of the Great Famine; her mother’s resistance to the Second Child Policy; her cousin’s work at a shoe factory; and the moral compromise of her Red Guard uncles after Mao Zedong’s death. Through these defiant characters, Kan questions the complexities of life as a Chinese millennial–for better or worse–as the country’s fate unfolds.

A Century of Change in a Chinese Village: The Crisis of the Countryside 
by Lin Juren (Author), Xie Yuxi (Author), Linda Grove (Editor)
Over the last half century, China has evolved from a poor rural country to a geopolitical powerhouse. Rapid urbanization has been at the heart of that transformation, and as migrant laborers have left their villages, what has become of the rural communities that were once the center of economic, social, and cultural life? And how do contemporary Chinese scholars understand those changes? These are the questions that this compelling book answers. This book traces changes from the early twentieth century to the present day in family and lineage, social stratification, personal networks, annual and life cycle rituals, village politics, and elite formation. This important book presents, for the first time in English, analysis by Chinese sociologists on the radical transformation of Chinese rural society.

Return Of The Dragon: China’s Wounded Nationalism 1st Edition
by Maria H Chang (Author), Amy Joseph (Author)
As Maoism recedes, and especially after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, Beijing has increasingly turned to patriotic nationalism for its ideological inspiration and legitimation. Return of the Dragon begins with a discussion of the definitions, typologies, and theories of nationalism. The formation and development of the Chinese people are explored, including their myths of origins, early beginnings, the classical feudal period, and the enduring state and empire of the Middle Kingdom. The last chapters of Return of the Dragon describe contemporary China’s patriotic nationalism as it is represented in the writings of Chinese intellectuals, the youth, and the military. The portrait that emerges is a disquieting mix of narcissism and insecurity, wounded pride and resentment, a Darwinian worldview and an irredentist resolve to restore China to its former glory.

Young China: How the Restless Generation Will Change Their Country and the World
by Zak Dychtwald
A close up look at the Chinese generation born after 1990 exploring through personal encounters how young Chinese feel about everything from money and sex, to their government, the West, and China’s shifting role in the world–not to mention their love affair with food, karaoke, and travel. Set primarily in the Eastern 2nd tier city of Suzhou and the budding Western metropolis of Chengdu, the book charts the touchstone issues this young generation faces. From single-child pressure, to test taking madness and the frenzy to buy an apartment as a prerequisite to marriage, from one-night-stands to an evolving understanding of family, Young China offers a fascinating portrait of the generation who will define what it means to be Chinese in the modern era.

Philosophy

 

The Analects
Translated by James Legge with an Introduction by Lionel Giles
One of the most influential philosophers of all time, and still deeply regarded amongst the Chinese people, his ideology is one which emphasizes the importance of the family, as well as justice, sincerity, and morality in both personal and political matters. The “Analects” or “Sayings of Confucius,” is the classic collection of his teachings compiled by his disciples over several centuries following his death. Confucius believed that the welfare of a nation depended upon the moral character of its people, and that the cultivation of this character began by a devotion to the well-being of others, starting with one’s immediate family. The impact of this work on Eastern philosophy cannot be overstated, as it stands to this day as one of the most important philosophical works from ancient times.

Tao Te Ching: A New English Version 
by Lao Tzu  (Author), Stephen Mitchell (Translator)
In eighty-one brief chapters, Lao-tzu’s Tao Te Ching, or Book of the Way, provides advice that imparts balance and perspective, a serene and generous spirit, and teaches us how to work for the good with the effortless skill that comes from being in accord with the Tao—the basic principle of the universe. Stephen Mitchell’s bestselling version has been widely acclaimed as a gift to contemporary culture.

Xunzi: The Complete Text
by Xunzi and Eric Hutton
This is the first complete, one-volume English translation of the ancient Chinese text Xunzi, one of the most extensive, sophisticated, and elegant works in the tradition of Confucian thought. Through essays, poetry, dialogues, and anecdotes, the Xunzi presents a more systematic vision of the Confucian ideal than the fragmented sayings of Confucius and Mencius, articulating a Confucian perspective on ethics, politics, warfare, language, psychology, human nature, ritual, and music, among other topics. Aimed at general readers and students of Chinese thought, Eric Hutton’s translation makes the full text of this important work more accessible in English than ever before.

Mencius
by Mencius and D. C. Lau
Mencius was one of the great philosophers of ancient China, second only in influence to Confucius, whose teachings he defended and expanded. The Mencius, in which he recounts his dialogues with kings, dukes and military men, as well as other philosophers, is one of the Four Books that make up the essential Confucian corpus. It takes up Confucius’s theories of jen, or goodness and yi, righteousness, explaining that the individual can achieve harmony with mankind and the universe by perfecting his innate moral nature and acting with benevolence and justice. Mencius’ strikingly modern views on the duties of subjects and their rulers or the evils of war, created a Confucian orthodoxy that has remained intact since the third century BCE.

History

 

A History of China 
by John Keay
An authoritative account of five thousand years of Chinese history. 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.

Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China’s Last Golden Age
by Stephen R. Platt
As China reclaims its position as a world power, Imperial Twilight looks back to tell the story of the country’s last age of ascendance and how it came to an end in the nineteenth-century Opium War.

Modern History

 

Red Star Over China
by Edgar Snow
The first Westerner to meet Mao Tse-tung and the Chinese Communist leaders in 1936, Edgar Snow came away with the first authorized account of Mao’s life, as well as a history of the famous Long March and the men and women who were responsible for the Chinese revolution. Out of that experience came Red Star Over China, a classic work that remains one of the most important books ever written about the birth of the Communist movement in China. This edition includes extensive notes on military and political developments in China, further interviews with Mao Tse-tung, a chronology covering 125 years of Chinese revolution, and nearly a hundred detailed biographies of the men and women who were instrumental in making China what it is today.

China 1945 – Mao’s Revolution and America’s Fateful Choice
by Richard Bernstein
A riveting account of the watershed moment in America’s dealings with China that forever altered the course of East-West relations. As 1945 opened, America was on surprisingly congenial terms with China’s Communist rebels—their soldiers treated their American counterparts as heroes, rescuing airmen shot down over enemy territory. Chinese leaders talked of a future in which American money and technology would help lift China out of poverty. Mao Zedong himself held friendly meetings with U.S. emissaries, vowing to them his intention of establishing an American-style democracy in China. By year’s end, however, cordiality had been replaced by chilly hostility and distrust.

China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know
by Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom
The need to understand this global giant has never been more pressing: China is constantly in the news, yet conflicting impressions abound. Within one generation, China has transformed from an impoverished, repressive state into an economic and political powerhouse. In the fully revised and updated second edition of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know, China expert Jeffrey Wasserstrom provides cogent answers to the most urgent questions regarding the newest superpower, and offers a framework for understanding its meteoric rise.

Military – History & Strategy

 

The Seven Military Classics Of Ancient China (History and Warfare)
by Ralph D. Sawyer (Translator)
The Seven Military Classics is one of the most profound studies of warfare ever written, a stanchion in sinological and military history. It presents an Eastern tradition of strategic thought that emphasizes outwitting one’s opponent through speed, stealth, flexibility, and a minimum of force–an approach very different from that stressed in the West. Safeguarded for centuries by the ruling elite of imperial China, even in modern times these writings have been known only to a handful of Western specialists. This volume contains seven separate essays, written between 500 BCE and 700 CE, that preserve the essential tenets of strategy distilled from the experience of the most brilliant warriors of ancient China.

The Art Of War
by Sun Tzu
The Art of War is an ancient Chinese military treatise attributed to Sun Tzu a high-ranking military general, strategist and tactician, and it was believed to have been compiled during the late Spring and Autumn period or early Warring States period. The text is composed of 13 chapters, each of which is devoted to one aspect of warfare. It is commonly known to be the definitive work on military strategy and tactics of its time. It has been the most famous and influential of China’s Seven Military Classics, and for the last two thousand years it remained the most important military treatise in Asia, where even the common people knew it by name. It has had an influence on Eastern and Western military thinking, business tactics, legal strategy and beyond.

The Dragon’s Teeth: The Chinese People’s Liberation Army―Its History, Traditions, and Air Sea and Land Capability in the 21st Century
by Benjamin Lai
What is today’s PLA really like? What are its traditions and histories, and how is it armed and equipped? How does it recruit and train? This book describes some of the lesser known battles and wars the Chinese have undertaken, and the development of their key weapons systems. The United States, having opened the door to “drone warfare,” have had an attentive audience for such technologies in Beijing. The last chapter provides thoughts on how the Chinese view matters of security. It is not yet known whether foreign powers can still enforce their territorial wills on China, but future attempts will meet an increased challenge.

More? There is a lengthy list of books on contemporary China listed princeton.edu see here for the PDF.

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