Both these histories are written by authors with a thorough knowledge of Chinese language and culture.
China in the Twentieth Century is a solid and reliable account of the period from the collapse of the Qing empire in 1911 to the death of Deng Xiaoping in 1997. It covers the abortive republic of 1912, the rise of the Guomindang nationalists and the Chinese Communist Party in the 1920s, invasion by Japan in 1937 and the war of resistance from which the CCP emerged victorious in 1949.
The CCP established its control in three stages: in the early 1950s it followed the Soviet model; Mao's road to socialism after 1958 when the great leap forward and cultural revolution isolated China from the capitalist and communist worlds; and a period of reform and opening from the late 1970s and early 1980s. The author refers to an extensive range of materials in English.
Henrietta Harrison's China deals with the 19th and 20th centuries, but its focus is specifically on the creation of a modern nation-state. The assumption that China is an exception to the rule that the nation-state was an 18th or 19th-century construct is examined critically through an analysis of the complex ethnic make-up of the empire ruled by the Manchu Qing dynasty.
The modern nation emerged as Chinese modernisers confronted both the Manchu elite and new foreign communities. The book also deals with issues such as modernity and class and the persistence of nationalism in 21st-century China, and it draws on a wide range of published and archival sources in Chinese, as well as in western languages.
Michael Dillon is senior lecturer in modern Chinese history, University of Durham.
China. First edition
Author - Henrietta Harrison
ISBN - 0 340 74133 3 and 74134 1
Publisher - Arnold
Price - £45.00 and £16.99
Pages - 290