The Chinese Revolution in Historical Perspective

The Chinese Revolution in Historical Perspective

The Chinese Revolution in Historical Perspective

The Chinese Revolution in Historical Perspective

Synopsis

"Instead of applying Western concepts of historical analysis to China, Schrecker seeks to understand modern history, both of China and of the West, through Chinese historiographical categories. The reader will appreciate not only the Chinese historiographical tradition but also the way this tradition enriches one's understanding of world history. An ambitious, much needed study." Akira Iriye, Harvard University, Past President, American Historical Association "John Schrecker has written a historical narrative certain to be of great value to students of politics and society. It is at once lively and engaging and theoretically sophisticated. By adopting a Chinese perspective and applying it not only to China itself but also to the interventions of the West, Schrecker opens the way for a new comparative history." Michael Walzer The Institute for Advanced Study Princeton

Excerpt

This book is primarily concerned with two interrelated issues in the study of Chinese history and, in particular, in the understanding of the past two hundred years. the first of these issues is how to conceptualize and evaluate what has occurred in China in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is widely agreed that this period has been an era of revolution, but the character and success of that revolution remain perennial and important questions. the second issue is how this revolution relates to the long and often misunderstood period that preceded it. This question is crucial in the study of any revolution and of the modern era anywhere in the world. It has been a particularly complex topic in the study of China because the West and Western ideas played a crucial role in the revolutionary process, and this role has tended to obscure China's indigenous background from both participants and historians.

As I began working on these issues, I also found that the effort to relate modern China to her past and, in this sense, to de-emphasize Western points of view, was leading me to an approach that might, in addition, make some contribution to addressing another long-felt concern of China specialists: the fact that material on China is still peripheral to Western historical studies and to contemporary Western knowledge overall. As a result, I also began to conceive of the project as a means of encouraging those unacquainted with China to discover some of the things that might be important and interesting to their own work. the book, therefore, also aims at presenting a self-contained, though by no means comprehensive, introduction to the social, political, and intellectual history of China that will, hopefully, be useful for this purpose.

One approach I take to conceptualizing the revolution and its relationship to the past is to make a self-conscious effort to bring the story of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries into accord with what might be called the traditional . . .

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