Mountain of Fame: Portraits in Chinese History

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Princeton University Press, 22 lip 2012 - 440

Through biographies of China's most colorful and famous personalities, John Wills displays the five-thousand-year sweep of Chinese history from the legendary sage emperors to the tragedy of Tiananmen Square. This unique introduction to Chinese history and culture uses more than twenty exemplary lives--biographies of China's most colorful and famous personalities--including those of statesmen, philosophers, poets, and rulers, to provide the focus for accounts of key historical trends and periods. What emerges is a provocative rendering of China's moral landscape, featuring characters who have resonated in the historical imagination as examples of villainy, heroism, wisdom, spiritual vision, political guile, and complex combinations of all of these.

Investigating both the legends and the facts surrounding these figures, Wills reveals the intense interest of the Chinese in the brilliance and in the frail complexities of their heroes. Included, for instance, is a description of the frustrations and anxieties of Confucius, who emerges as a vulnerable human being trying to restore the world to the virtue and order of the sage kings. Wills recounts and questions the wonderfully shocking stories about the seventh-century Empress Wu, an astute ruler and shaper of an increasingly centralized monarchy, who has since assumed a prominent position in the Chinese tradition's rich gallery of bad examples--because she was a woman meddling in politics. The portrayal of Mao Zedong, which touches upon this leader's earthy personality and his reckless political visions, demonstrates the tendency of the Chinese not to divorce ideology from its human context: Maoism for them is a form of "objective" Marxism, inseparable from one man's life and leadership.

Each of the twenty chapters provides a many-sided exploration of a "slice" of Chinese history, engaging the general reader in a deep and personal encounter with China over the centuries and today. The biographies repeatedly mirror the moral earnestness of the Chinese, the great value they place on the ruler-minister relationship, and their struggles with tensions among practicality, moral idealism, and personal authenticity. Culminating in a reflection on China's historical direction in the aftermath of Tiananmen Square, the biographies show the modern Chinese still inspired and frustrated by a complex heritage of moral fervor and political habits and preconceptions. As absorbing as it is wide ranging, this history is written for the general public curious about China and for the student beginning to study its rich cultural heritage.

This new edition highlights important figures that have emerged in China since the book's initial publication and provides updated suggestions for further reading.


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Mountain of fame: portraits in Chinese history

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Although intended for the inspired tourist or casual reader who wants a quick introduction to Chinese history, this collection of biographies is in no way superficial. Each of the 20 chapters offers a ... Przeczytaj pełną recenzję

Spis treści

1 Yu
2 Confucius Kongzi
3 The First Emperor of Qin Qin Shihuang
4 Sima Qian
5 Wang Mang
6 Ban Zhao
7 Zhuge Liang
8 Hui Neng the Sixth Patriarch
13 Wang Yangming
14 Zheng Chenggong Coxinga
15 The Qianlong Emperor
16 Hong Xiuquan the Heavenly King
17 Liang Qichao
18 The Kuomintang Legacy
19 Mao Zedong
20 Names in the News

9 Empress Wu
10 Su Dongpo
11 Yue Fei
12 Qiu Chuji the Daoist
Afterword to the 2012 Edition
Sources and Suggestions for Further Reading
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Informacje o autorze (2012)

John E. Wills, Jr., is emeritus professor of history at the University of Southern California. He is the author of 1688: A Global History and The World from 1450 to 1700, and the editor of China and Maritime Europe, 1500-1800 and Past and Present in China's Foreign Policy.

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