The Shortest History of China by Linda Jaivin | Black Inc.

The Shortest History of China

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About the author

Linda Jaivin

Linda Jaivin has been studying Chinese politics, language and culture for more than forty years. She has been a foreign correspondent in China, and is co-editor of the China Story Yearbook, an associate of the Australian Centre on China in …

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The Shortest History of China

Praise for 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.’ —Stan Grant

‘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

‘Jaivin’s may be the shortest history of China; it’s also one of the best. lt tells the story from the beginning to the present day in crisp and artful fashion, short enough for the narrative to flow briskly, but selectively detailed enough to convey the richness, the intrigue, the brilliance and the tragedies of the story. Jaivin has the erudition of long study, and she combines it with a touch of the poetic and the playful in her absorbing, wonderful book.’ —Richard Bernstein

‘Half a dozen new books on China have hit the shelves in recent weeks but few authors are as qualified as Ms Jaivin to explain how we got here.’ —Liz Loveday, Australian Associated Press

‘A tour de force and a really marvellous read ... makes the case that understanding history and patterns that recur throughout history is crucial for understanding modern China ... [Jaivin] also writes powerful vignettes about women in China, stories that often don’t get told in conventional histories.’ —Bec Strating, Executive Director, La Trobe Asia

‘In a time of historic lows in the official relationship between Australia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), [Linda’s] book presents a timely reminder of how past events and trends can inform a modern understanding of bilateral relations.’ —James Laurenceson, Director, UTS:ACRI

‘Linda Jaivin manages to cram in so much of the gigantic tapestry that is China’s national story, but does it so concisely, with such flair, that this book is just a joy to read.’ —The Daily Telegraph

‘This is a virtuosic, and virtuosically succinct, history of China. Its 288 pages brim with political, cultural, social and economic insight. It brings together statesmen, court chronicles, poetry, fiction, mythology, painting, pottery, pop music and myriad other sources to construct a fascinating, enormously dynamic portrait of a superpower. Essential reading.’ —Julia Lovell, professor of modern China, Birkbeck College, University of London

‘The book is a little tour de force.’ —The Australian

‘Linda Jaivin has assembled together many of the pieces of China’s millennia of history into a single, artful stained glass window. If you’ve been confused by how China’s past fits together with its present and Xi Jinping’s “wolf warrior diplomacy”, this is the Rosetta stone.’ —Orville Schell, author of My Old Home and Director of the Center on US–China Relations at the Asia Society

‘Jaivin defies the convention that China’s history is too big, too complex, and too long to be handled succinctly. She also challenges the notion that history can be entertaining, or informative, but not both. This book is the perfect jumping off (diving in?) point for someone new to Chinese history: it encourages you and prepares you to go further, but if this is all you read, you can consider yourself well informed and better prepared to make sense of the world that China is remaking.’ —James Carter, author of Champions Day: The End of Old Shanghai 

‘It deserves to be widely read, given the generally abysmal ignorance of China in this country.’ —Paul Monk, Weekend Australian

‘Jaivin has a terrific eye for telling details and effortlessly turns a highly complex, sprawling story into a thoroughly informing and entertaining read.’ —Steven Carroll, Sydney Morning Herald

‘A succinct yet dynamic narrative chronicling China from prehistory to the present, adeptly weaving together political, social, and cultural events from each period. . . . A delightful, informative, thought-provoking read.’—Choice

‘...supplied deep context to debates I hadn’t properly understood.’ —Jock Serong

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