Rebellions and Revolutions: China from the 1800s to the 1980s

By Jack Gray | Go to book overview

GENERAL EDITOR'S PREFACE

Both in Great Britain and in the United States, the idea that students may wish -- and may even be expected -- to study the history of parts of the world other than their own has steadily gained ground in the last decade. In part this is a reflection of changing social and political concerns: we are coming to realize that we live in one world, and believe we ought therefore to know more about parts of it hitherto neglected, or comparatively neglected, by historians bred in the western tradition of scientific history. In part, too, it reflects changes in the available source-material. Whatever its origin, though, the impulse is beginning to make its mark in schools and colleges. They now need books about Latin America, Africa, or Asia on the scale and at the level of those which in the past introduced their students to European or English history. This is one of the considerations which has shaped the design of this series, which will include such books, as well as others on more familiar and traditional areas of study.

In addition, up-to-date scholarship in English and European history, too, must be made available to each generation of students. Consequently, this series is tripartite. Four volumes in it are devoted to modern European history, in which the British Isles are treated as a part of European society as a whole. A second group of four volumes is more specialized, being confined to English history. The third, larger group contains introductory volumes, covering fairly long periods, about areas and countries which are only now beginning to be studied by others than specialists. Some of these will be defined regionally -- the projected volume on Latin America, for example. Those on the United States and Russia, on the other hand, limit themselves to a single legal entity as, in a rather different sense, does another on the British Empire and Commonwealth. In each case, the books in this stream are distinguished by being about a big and important topic for which good, up-to-date introductory manuals are not yet easily available.

The unity which binds these books together, although they will have different levels of details and scope, is that they are all about the 'modern world' referred to in the title of the series. This does not mean that the chronological limitations of each book are the same. Conventionally, histories of different countries line up all their runners at approximately the same starting-gate and get them off together, whether in 1400, 1500, 1600, or any other dramatic, convenient, or merely 'significant' moment. This series follows a different scheme. The latest era of world history is here defined not chronologically but thematically. It is the era in which the fundamental

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