The Soul of China by Amaury De Riencourt

My exposure to Chinese history has mostly been disappointing thus far–but this book was FASCINATING. The author writes in the colorful and subjective style that today’s politically correct historians are afraid to write in. He is not afraid of making judgments, which is refreshing given that modern academicians are steeped in relativism. The core theme in this book is how at a very early point in its history China created a stable civilization that changed very little for thousands of years, and how this cultural petrification led to a crisis when China came into contact with the energetic and innovative West. In the end China embraced Marxism-Leninism as a way of rejecting elements of Western civilization that did not fit with Chinese culture, such as individualism, Christianity, and democracy, while embracing those aspects which were undeniably positive, such as science and industry. I have to say that this book saved me from a hopeless ennui regarding Chinese history.

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