China: A History [John Keay] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Many nations define themselves in terms of territory or people; China. Review: China: A History by John KeayJohn Keay's forensic analysis of China's history makes the world of the ancient emperors appear. This narrative history of China takes in everything from the earliest times to the present day. The book is informed by a wide knowledge of the Asian context and.


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Reading this deeply into Chinese history makes you realise how vast is the gulf between our Western democratic individualism and the Chinese mind-set, even today.

From earliest times the emperor was subservient to the Mandate of Heaven, everyone was china a history john keay to the emperor, and the Confucian system was one of unrelenting hierarchy and subservience in every social situation.

China and the West China had an advanced civilisation while Europe was in the Dark China a history john keay, how come Europe came to dominate China by the 19th century etc etc blah blah? Having read this account the answer is fairly obvious: Chinese culture preached slavish submission to the emperor; Europe was convulsed by widespread revolutions which overthrew oppressive rulers in the china a history john keay of liberty and freedom from as early as the s, and which led to various competing forms of democracy.

Confucianism despises merchants and trade and business. According to Confucian scholars the highest calling in life was being a Confucian scholar. On the contrary, the West, despite superficial distaste, in fact worships and glorifies the trader, the merchant, the successful businessman, the plantation owner, the Indian nabob, anyone who made it rich and bought a big estate in the country.

John Keay - Wikipedia

In China innovation was punished. From the Middle Ages through to the 19th century, any attempt to change things generally resulted in punishment, exile or execution.

If any reforms were carried out, they had to be camouflaged as returns to an idealised past, invoking the names of past emperors or dynasties.

Foot binding Under the Song Dynasty, by aboutbinding china a history john keay feet of girls and women had become commonplace. The binding was never taken off, but only changed as feet grew or tried to.


Hundreds of millions of girls and women were reduced to an agonising hobble. One reason the Song dynasty is remembered The Song dynasty ended in the s. It was followed by three other Big Dynasties which followed each other without much hiatus — the YuanMing and Qing But china a history john keay three were somewhat compromised.


So for many Chinese to this day, both dynasties are somewhat unauthentic. By contrast with these three compromised dynasties, the Song — untainted by foreign rulers or national humiliation — is sometimes considered, by Chinese scholars, to be a peak of peace, culture and achievement, even if it china a history john keay end while Henry III was on the throne of England.

Two worlds, one emphasising its Asiatic tyranny, the other laying the basis of civil rights and democracy.

China: A history by John Keay (2008)

But china a history john keay murderous events are less important - and much less interesting - than the patterns of life that lie beneath.

For the China that matters is the China of Confucius: In this China, it is politics, not plotting, that wins the day; and the nature of political life that 'the Master' observed almost years BC is oddly modern and wholly relevant.

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Empires lose steam and traction like modern administrations; they simply run out of energy and ideas. Consider, for instance, the troubles of the Han dynasty.

The emperor is weak, surrounded by manipulative forces and the traditional bureaucracy is intellectually weak, too, its top posts sold off as sinecures. Enter a separate power centre within the palace called the Department of Affairs of State.

So you have unpopular tax reform.

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