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  • Great State

  • China and the World
  • By: Timothy Brook
  • Narrated by: Timothy Brook
  • Length: 18 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Asia
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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Summary

China is one of the oldest states in the world. It achieved its approximate current borders with the Ascendancy of the Yuan dynasty in the 13th century, and despite the passing of one Imperial dynasty to the next, it has maintained them for the eight centuries since. Even the European colonial powers at the height of their power could not move past coastal enclaves. Thus, China remained China through the Ming, the Qing, the Republic, the Occupation and Communism. 

But, despite the desires of some of the most powerful people in the Great State through the ages, China has never been alone in the world. It has had to contend with invaders from the steppe and the challenges posed by foreign traders and imperialists. Indeed, its rulers for the majority of the last eight centuries have not been Chinese. 

Timothy Brook examines China's relationship with the world from the Yuan through to the present by following the stories of ordinary and extraordinary people navigating the spaces where China met and meets the world. Bureaucrats, horse traders, spiritual leaders, explorers, pirates, emperors, invaders, migrant workers, traitors and visionaries: this is a history of China as no one has told it before. 

©2020 Timothy Brook (P)2020 Hachette Audio UK

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Some interesting insights. Started well.

Started off really well with a range of interesting insights into China's past, bringing in the neighbouring countries. Was a little concerned by the author reading his own book. At first I thought his style was OK, but the longer it went on the more i was rankled by the lecture theatre tone of reading, which I have sat through too many times at conferences etc, with occasional self-satisfied academic 'jokes' to prod the listener awake.

One problem is that the book is based around illustrations, which are not supplied to the audible customer. Another is the later sections where the West is denigrated in favour of anyone else in the story, in a way that is less insightful as dully predictable.