China: a macro history by Ray Huang

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By Ray Huang

This brief heritage of China incorporates a new preface, extra illustrations and a extra reader-friendly layout.

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But on Wangfujing Dajie, a mere two blocks away from the Beijing Hotel, it is everyone for himself; one has to fight his way aboard, the chaos providing an excellent hunting ground for pickpockets. Even though I had been forewarned of the situation, one that was not unfamiliar to me decades ago, I found reliving the experience difficult; I had thought that such things had been wiped clean by the revolution. Yet, as discomfiting as the minor unpleasantness and inconveniences are, they are nothing compared to the red tape thrown around every transaction by the bureaucrats who, finding the changing world no less perplexing than we do, have to stick to their unchanging organizational logic in order to survive.

Dazed by our losing of the civil war, cut off from my mother and sister, and aggravated by what seemed to be a Sino-Soviet combi- Page xi nation set on disturbing the peace of the world, I had reason to feel pessimistic. But decades later, like everybody else's, my view toward China and the Chinese, the country of my origin and my people, has taken more than one drastic turn. For her part, China herself has made astounding changes. My modification of attitude was not done without a considerable soul-searching, however.

Eventually the thousands of strands of loose ends had to be tied together. " One thing leads to another. In his file cabinet were numerous kinds of leads, some neatly typed, others handwritten. There was Wittfogel's theory of hydraulic society. There was archaeologist Cheng Te-kun's proposal that Needham should line up ten major inventions in the world, construct a profile of the socioeconomic environment for each case, and then make analyses and comparisons. But the piece that caught my attention most was the comment by Homer Dubs, the translator of the Han-shu.

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