China: A New History
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998 - 546 pages
Bringing to bear 60 years of research, travel, and teaching, Fairbank weaves a detailed history that reaches from China's neolithic days to its troubled present. He depicts a country ever-changing and yet constant in its effort to achieve a cohesive identity, an enormous and enormously complex nation perpetually balancing between the imperatives of force and the power of ideas. Here are the Chinese autocrats in their various times and guises, maintaining Confucian civility and order through - paradoxically - the perpetual threat of irrational imperial violence. Here is the intellectual class, revered for its wisdom and counsel and yet - as events from the Cultural Revolution to the massacre in Tiananmen Square demonstrate - eminently expendable. And here are China's farmers engaged in a never-ending attempt to tame their countryside only to face repeated famine as China's agrarian-based economy fails to develop. At the centre of all stands the Chinese family, until recently the model for both obedience and tyranny in society at large.