Telling Chinese History: A Selection of Essays

By Mackerras, Colin | The China Journal, July 2009 | Go to article overview

Telling Chinese History: A Selection of Essays


Mackerras, Colin, The China Journal


Telling Chinese History: A Selection of Essays, by Frederic E. Wakeman, Jr., selected and edited by Lea H. Wakeman. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009. xx + 453 pp. US$60.00/£35.00 (hardcover), US$24.95/£14.95 (paperback).

This book is a collection of articles by the distinguished historian Frederic E. Wakeman (1937-2006) on various aspects of Chinese history. As the articles selected here show, his work is characterized by its attention to theory, its deep interpretations of certain periods of Chinese history, and its emphasis on human details. Wakeman was widely learned in the history not only of China but of other countries as well, and his comparative observations added to and deepened his interpretations.

This book was compiled after Wakeman' s death by his wife Lea. It consists of five parts, representing emphases in Wakeman's work. These are 1) China in the context of world history; 2) the Ming-Qing period; 3) Shanghai in the Republic period; 4) the historiography of Chinese history; and 5) modernity and the state. The themes of the earlier parts tend to relate to earlier periods.

The chapters are from various sources, ranging from scholarly journals like Journal of Asian Studies to chapters in well-known books and to book reviews. In addition, there is an interpretative introduction to Wakeman's work in general, and to this book in particular, by S. N. Eisenstadt, himself a distinguished historian of China. Major themes taken up in the book include early relations between the West and China, ideology, bureaucracy and change. The arguments presented are not all consistent throughout the book, but that is defensible, as this is a republication of particular major articles.

Wakeman's writing style is always interesting, and I found this book at times quite difficult to put down. For example, the chapter entitled "Romantics, Stoics and Martyrs in Seventeenth-Century China" includes many personal, even intimate, details about historical figures and links their experiences to the broad sweep of the history that saw the fall of the Ming Dynasty and the rise of the Qing.

Although Wakeman certainly had interests in the big picture of Chinese history, the common themes that recur throughout this book are comparatively few. One is the power of the state linked with the issue of essential change. One chapter is entitled "Models of Historical Change: The Chinese State and Society 1839-1989" and was originally published in 1991. Wakeman discusses four models of the state, beginning with Karl Wittfogel's "oriental despotism", and analyzes the development of police power in China. His conclusion is that the state has increased its power over society, with the People's Republic having the largest extent of power, and takes this as indicative of a gathering momentum of change in China.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Telling Chinese History: A Selection of Essays
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.