A Short History of China

A Short History of China

A Short History of China

A Short History of China

Excerpt

Timely is not a word to apply to China. The great landlocked tideless body of its history seems in perspective changeless and unchanging through ages that stretch historically unbroken back to the youth of Mesopotamia and the Nile. The storms of invasion and conquest that have swept China from time to time seem to have sunk in futile exhaustion into the calm, and the wreckage is borne idly on the surface or sinks unmarked into the formless mystery called China.

But history knows nothing unchanging. Human interest is wide enough to call all things timely. Mystery yields its secrets before the advance of knowledge. Science in its manifold forms from ethnology to modern industrialism has invaded China, and the wall around it has fallen. The world too has put China in the foreground of its present interests; and so far as one can see, that place it will hold for much longer than our generation.

If timely does not apply to China, it certainly does to a book such as this on its history. A sound and scholarly volume on China's history is at this moment much more than a publishing enterprise. It partakes of the nature of a public service, for upon our national understanding of China's problems growing out of a past that is also a present will depend our wisdom, restraint, and foresight in dealing with an older nation attempting to live a new life in a world not of its making.

Granted the importance as well as the difficulty and complexity of the task, it is reassuring to have Professor Williams as historian and interpreter. Professor Williams long ago documented himself as a scholarly student of Chinese history and politics. What the reader will appreciate almost equally is that the volume comes from one long a resident in China, holding at various times offices of trust under both the Chinese and American governments, in all over thirty years of immediate conduct with the people and affairs of China. Such an experience is an invaluable supplement to the erudition of the scholar.

GUY STANTON FORD

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