Book Review: Chinese Of The Shang, Zhou, And Qin Dynasties

Chinese Of The Shang, Zhou, And Qin Dynasties, by World Book

This is the sort of book I would have liked to have read as a kid.  I read a lot of books as a kid, establishing the sort of habits that I have kept since then in that regard, but I must admit that I do not remember that many books about East Asian culture and history being easily accessible to me when I was growing up, and this particular book and its approach to history would have been right up my alley.  Even now, although this book is admittedly a very simple and basic one, I think that the book at least conveys a great deal of useful and worthwhile information to readers who could understand why it is that ancient Chinese history would matter to a contemporary reader.  Again, it might look a bit silly for an adult to be reading a book like this, but it is certainly a quick read and also a book that contains a lot of discussion on some important aspects of Chinese history and culture that extend all the way to the period of ancient history.  In general as a fan of ancient history and in particular as a student of East Asian history, this book is easy to recommend for young readers.

This particular book is 64 pages long, which seems to fit a particular goal of particular page lengths for children’s reading in general.  The book begins by asking and answering questions about who the Shang, Zhou, and Qin dynasties were and where they ruled in China, showing expanding borders as Chinese culture spread and as dynasties were able to increase the span of their rule.  After this there are discussions of such matters as the origins of the Shang, ancient Chinese civilization at its height, the Great Wall, leaders in ancient China, as well as a discussion of the upper, priestly, warrior, and artisan, merchant, and farming classes.  The book details some of the laws of ancient China as well as their beliefs and gods, ceremonies and sacrifices, as well as their surviving settlements and tombs.  There is a discussion of art and culture, notably the stunning terra cotta army of the first Qin emperor, as well as a discussion of such matters as philosophy, technology, family life, shelter, food and clothing, education, and literature.  Finally, the book concludes with a discussion of the decline of three dynasties and the legacy of China as well as a glossary, suggestions for further reading and research, and an index.

In wholeheartedly recommending a book like this, I am thinking of several different aspects of this book that are particularly worthwhile.  For one, the book is particularly broad in its approach to Chinese history, examining the political history as well as the military history, examining cultural artifacts as well as philosophical matters, discussing the daily life of people in ancient China as well as the development of education and their belief systems.  The past is another country, and to the extent that we can understand how it is that ancient people thought and lived, we may better understand and relate to them and be able to understand the possibilities of human existence as well as the ways in which the past retains an influence on the present-day lives of people in China (and elsewhere).  Likewise, a book like this can easily encourage in a reader an appreciation of Chinese culture that would lead to further reading of longer and more in-depth and detailed books on various aspects of interest in Chinese history, whether one is looking at scholarly works on political or military or diplomatic history on the one hand or some of the translations of ancient novels and poetry and philosophical texts on the other, all of which is well worth encouraging an interest in.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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