The Story of China: Book summary and reviews of The Story of China by Michael Wood

The Story of China

The Epic History of a World Power from the Middle Kingdom to Mao and the China Dream

by Michael Wood

The Story of China by Michael Wood X
The Story of China by Michael Wood
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Book Summary

A single volume history of China, offering a look into the past of the global superpower and its significance today.

Michael Wood has travelled the length and breadth of China, the world's oldest civilization and longest lasting state, to tell a thrilling story of intense drama, fabulous creativity, and deep humanity that stretches back thousands of years.

After a century and a half of foreign invasion, civil war, and revolution, China has once again returned to center stage as a global superpower and the world's second largest economy. But how did it become so dominant? Wood argues that in order to comprehend the great significance of China today, we must begin with its history.

The Story of China takes a fresh look at the Middle Kingdom in the light of the recent massive changes inside the country. Taking into account exciting new archeological discoveries, the book begins with China's prehistory―the early dynasties, the origins of the Chinese state, and the roots of Chinese culture in the age of Confucius. Wood looks at particular periods and themes that are now being reevaluated by historians, such as the renaissance of the Song with its brilliant scientific discoveries. He paints a vibrant picture of the Qing Empire in the 18th century, just before the European impact, a time when China's rich and diverse culture was at its height. Then, Wood explores the encounter with the West, the Opium Wars, the clashes with the British, and the extraordinarily rich debates in the late 19th century that pushed China along the path to modernity.

Finally, he provides a clear up-to-date account of post-1949 China, including revelations about the 1989 crisis based on newly leaked inside documents, and fresh insights into the new order of President Xi Jinping. All woven together with landscape history and the author's own travel journals, The Story of China is the indispensable book about the most intriguing and powerful country on the world stage today.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Scholars may debate some points, but Wood ably conveys the exciting Chinese saga through the ages in an accessible work that makes a massive historical narrative palatable to general readers. Wood is a wonderful storyteller who captures the big picture without losing sight of the human detail." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Deeply researched and energetically written, this immersive account is a worthy introduction to the vast sweep of Chinese history and culture." - Publishers Weekly

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Author Information

Michael Wood

Michael Wood is a historian, filmmaker, and broadcaster who has written several bestselling books and made well over one hundred documentary films which are regularly seen on PBS. Some of these book-and-documentary projects include In Search of the Dark Ages, In Search of the Trojan War, and In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great. A Professor of Public History at the University of Manchester, he is also a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, the Royal Historical Society, and the Society of Antiquaries. He recently received the British Academy President's Medal for services to history and outreach.

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