Top 5 Best Books on Chinese History

China is a nation with roughly 1.4 billion people. It is the most populous nation out of any other nation in the world. Part of the reason why China has so many people is that it’s been around for a long time.

Just think about this for a minute. China had one of the first ancient civilizations to ever exist in recorded history. The Shang Dynasty was the first recorded civilization to come out of China and it goes as far back as 1,600 B.C. That was roughly 3,600 years ago.

Ever since then, China has been growing its population slowly until it reached 1.4 billion people. That is why the Chinese government has laws in place to limit the number of babies that families can have.

It is not like the United States where families can have as many babies as they want. But it may get to that point because the American population is 350 million people. That is a lot of people when you consider the United States is about 244 years old.

China has the second greatest economy in the world. It may end up surpassing the United States and become the largest economy if Americans keep raising the national debt.

In addition, China has a long-lasting history and culture to look back upon. It is a country filled with artifacts, landmarks, and gorgeous scenery. Most people outside of China are familiar with the Great Wall of China. But there is a lot more to learn and see in China.

If you plan to visit China in the near future, then you should study up on Chinese history. That way, you’ll know which sites to visit when you arrive in the country. Then you won’t need to depend on a tour guide to show you the way.

Our Best Picks

Below are the top 5 books on Chinese history:

1) The Cambridge Illustrated History of China – Second Edition

“The Cambridge Illustrated History of China” is one of the best historical books on China. It gives the reader a lot of wonderful descriptions and illustrations of China throughout its entire history. It starts with the prehistoric era of China and continues on all the way to present day China. You’ll learn about Buddhism, Confucianism, the Manchu Dynasty, Mongol Dynasty, the Tiananmen Square uprisings, and so many other things of Chinese history.

What is really interesting is how the book talks about the Western influence over China and how the country became the communist state that it is today. All aspects of the Chinese culture are covered too, such as the society, economics, religion, and foreign policy. The book even goes in depth into how women are treated like second-class citizens in China.

Make sure you look for the second edition of the book because it features a new chapter about globalization in China. For a long time, China was cut off from the rest of the world in terms of foreigners coming into the country. That changed significantly over the course of the 20th century, which greatly helped the Chinese economy.

2) China: A History – Volume 1

“China: A History” dives deep into the political history, cultural history and social history of China. The author, Harold M. Tanner, describe each step that went into the development of the country, starting from the day China was conceived all the way to the present.

The reader is treated to more than just textual content in the book. They also get to enjoy impressive visualizations of what is explained. There are a variety of illustrations and maps to help the reader understand various points about the Chinese history, along with explanatory notes to further clarify the visuals.

China has experienced some cultural and economic changes over the years, but there are some similarities between ancient China and modern China. If you find the Chinese culture fascinating and you’re interested to learn more about it, then pick up this book when you get a chance.

3) The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State

“The Third Revolution: Xi Jinping and the New Chinese State” is a focus on the modern transformations that have taken place in China. It specifically focuses on the current Chinese President Xi Jinping and the various political reforms and economic reforms that he has enacted.

The author of the book is Elizabeth C. Economy. She describes President Xi’s rise to power and how he has taken advantage of his centralized power in order to strengthen the Community Party of China. You’ll learn how the social, political and economic ideals of the country are now in control of the Communist Party. It is not only changing the way of life in China, but also the way China does business with other countries throughout the world.

What is really interesting is that the author recommends ways in which other countries, such as the United States, can establish a better global relationship with the Chinese government.

4) Foundations of Chinese Civilization

The “Foundations of Chinese Civilization” highlight the most critical elements of the Chinese culture throughout history. The reader will learn about Chinese religions, the founding fathers of China, and how the culture of China has changed over the many centuries since it was founded.

You’ll find this book to be very easy to understand. Its content is portrayed in a “comic” style so that it is both entertaining and educational to read and understand. People of any age can easily absorb the content because it is displayed in this way. You’ll learn about Daoism, Confucianism, Ancient Chinese emperors, and so much more.

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5) A Short History of China: From Ancient Dynasties to Economic Powerhouse

“A Short History of China” is a 160-page walkthrough of the last 4,000 years of China. Readers will start with the prehistoric era of China and learn all the major events that happened from it up until the modern era. The book discusses many historical Chinese figures, including artists, warriors, tyrants, and philosophers. These are all people who helped shaped the culture of the country into what it is today.

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