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Chinese Lives

The People who Made a Civilization

Victor H. Mair, Sanping Chen

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The perfect introduction to China’s long history, using the extraordinary lifestories of the men and women who helped shape its past

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China is the most populous country on earth, and has the longest history of any modern nation. Its cultural and scientific achievements are well known; its script has been in use for more than three millennia. But who were the people who created this enduring civilization and what were they like?

Here is a fresh and involving approach to the story of China, told through short biographies of 96 men and women from all walks of life. In these pages will be found a colourful array of individuals from over 3,000 years of China's history, from an early warrior lady of the 13th century BC, Fu Hao, to the late 20th-century communist leader Deng Xiaoping. They include officials and political figures, rebels, exiles, philosophers, poets, artists, musicians, scientists, military leaders and committed pacifists: their careers, achievements, misdeeds, disasters, punishments, ideas and love stories make this an unforgettable read.

The authors have drawn on a huge range of sources to assemble information about the widest possible range of individuals from all periods and parts of China. The book is arranged in four chronological sections, each with a brief historical introduction, to help place the biographies in context within the vast span of China's tumultuous history.

Illustrated with numerous portraits, paintings, written documents, bronzes and sculptures, as well as location maps, and written in an attractive, authoritative style, Chinese Lives provides the perfect introduction to China's past and her peoples for the 21st century.

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 23.5 x 15.5 cm

Extent: 232 pp

Illustrations: 83

Publication date: 25 March 2013

ISBN: 9780500251928

Contents List

Introduction; 96 Lives in four chronological sections, each with a brief historical introduction: 1. The Shang to Han dynasties (c. 16th century bc to AD 220); 2. The period of disunion to the Sui, Tang dynasties (220–907); 3. The period of disunion to the Yuan dynasty (907–1386); 4. The Ming dynasty to the People’s Republic of China (1368 to the present)

About the Author

Victor Mair is Professor of Chinese Language and Literature at the University of Pennysylvania. His numerous publications include The True History of Tea and The Tarim Mummies, both published by Thames & Hudson.

Sanping Chen is an auhority on Chinese culture and history.

List of Contributors

Frances Wood