China, A History

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This audio book was long - 25 1/2 hours. It went over extensively the history of Chinese dynasties, included incredible facts that I've never known before;

  1. The dynastic succession was not one to one, there were actually thousands that co-existed, overlapped, conquered one another and took each others names
  2. Most of the dynasties weren't actually Chinese (less than 1/3 by some estimates)
  3. There was one 1-man dynasty, Xuan. Tenure was very short, wasn't popular.
  4. The communist revolution, though unpopular with historians, accomplished a unification of China that the region never before has seen.
  5. In the 7th century AD, the largest city in the world was Chang'an with an estimated 2 million people. The world's population at the time 224 million. Meaning this one city contained 1% of the entire worlds population. Adjusted for today's numbers it would be a city of 74 Million people!
  6. The scale of China's wars was massive. Battle deaths regularly numbered in hundreds of thousands. 

And many others. I'm very glad I decided to read this book, as my education was very western-centered. I thought it did a great job summarizing five thousand years of history into 25 hours. 

That being said, I think the book focused a little too much on dynastic succession and not enough on Chinese culture. I would have loved to hear more about the average life of a Chinese layperson - what cultural practices were carried out, what food they ate, etc. At times the book felt like it was a list of successions. Such information is incredibly important for anyone wishing to learn Chinese history, but it makes for a bit of dry reading at times. 

Overall, I'd recommend it but only if you're a serious history buff. Otherwise, I'd recommend picking another book.