Modern China by Jonathan Fenby
The Fall and Rise of a Great Power, 1850 to the Present

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 2 Critic Reviews



No country on earth has suffered a more bitter history in modern times than China. In the second half of the nineteenth century, it was viewed as doomed to extinction. Its imperial rulers, heading an anachronistic regime, were brought low by enormous revolts, shifting social power patterns, republican revolutionaries, Western incursions to "split the Chinese melon" and a disastrous defeat by Japan.

The presence of predatory foreigners has often been blamed for China's troubles, but the much greater cause came from within China itself. In the early twentieth century, the empire was succeeded by warlordism on a massive scale, internal divisions, incompetent rule, savage fighting between the government and the Communists, and a fourteen-year invasion from Japan. Four years of civil war after 1945 led to the Maoist era, with its purges and repression; the disastrous Great Leap Forward; a famine that killed tens of millions; and the Cultural Revolution.

Yet from this long trauma, China has emerged amazingly in the last three decades as an economic powerhouse set to play a major global political role, its future posing one of the great questions for the twenty-first century as it grapples with enormous internal challenges. Understanding how that transformation came about and what China constitutes today means understanding its epic journey since 1850 and recognizing how the past influences the present.

Jonathan Fenby tells this turbulent story with brilliance and insight, spanning a unique historical panorama, with an extraordinary cast of characters and a succession of huge events. As Confucius said, To see the future, one must grasp the past.


About Jonathan Fenby

See more books from this Author
Jonathan Fenby has edited the Observer, the South China Morning Post and Reuters World Service as well as held senior positions at the Economist, the Independent and the Guardian. His books include Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the China He Lost; Dealing with the Dragon: A Year in the New Hong Kong; Seventy Wonders of China; Dragon Throne; and Alliance: How Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill Won One War and Began Another. He is the China Director of Trusted Sources. He has been made a Commander of the British Empire and a Knight of the French Order of Merit for services to journalism.
Published June 24, 2008 by Ecco. 816 pages
Genres: History, Travel.

Unrated Critic Reviews for Modern China

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

The magisterial sections covering the “Rule of Mao” incorporate strands from China’s past to highlight the Great Helmsmen’s monstrously despotic policies, which used millions of lives as fodder for his increasingly irrational dreams.

| Read Full Review of Modern China: The Fall and Ri...

The Guardian

See more reviews from this publication

Against this backdrop, China's search for a modern political form, from the elite efforts of the late 19th century to the more recent street protests - the May Fourth Movement in 1919, 1979's Democracy Wall and 1989's Tiananmen Square - remains a work in progress Fenby's history is stronger in so...

Mar 29 2009 | Read Full Review of Modern China: The Fall and Ri...

Reader Rating for Modern China

An aggregated and normalized score based on 7 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review