Understanding China [3rd Edition] A Guide to China's Economy, History, and Political Culture

John Bryan Starr

Hill and Wang



Trade Paperback

448 Pages



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For more than a decade, John Bryan Starr's indispensable guide has introduced uninitiated readers to the background, basic data, and issues at stake in China's crisis-ridden present and future. Now, in this thoroughly revised and expanded edition, Starr seamlessly weaves in additional material on the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the Chinese government’s ongoing efforts to curb the influence of the Internet, and the intensifying trade disputes with the United States—Starr shows how Deng Xiaoping's successors have worked tirelessly to retain their hold on power in spite of a rapidly developing capitalist economy. Building on the strengths of the original version, the third edition of Understanding China continues to offer a smart, solid overview of Chinese history, society, culture, and politics.


Praise for Understanding China [3rd Edition]

"An excellent introduction to China for anyone in search of solid but concise information about that complicated country. Packed with facts and figures, but enlivened with firsthand observations."—Lucian W. Pye, The New York Times

"A marvelously useful book. Mr. Starr has given us an excellent introduction to the study of modern China, written with clarity and insight. I was impressed by the depth of his knowledge and by the skill and fair-mindedness of his presentation."—Frank Gibney, former Time Life Asia Bureau Chief, author of Five Gentlemen of Japan

"Invaluable . . . Provides substantial coverage of the relationships between China's history and present-day system."—MultiCultural Review

"An impressive and comprehensive survey of mainland China's geography, political structure, military establishment, economics, and recent history. Invaluable and indispensable reading for students of contemporary Chinese culture and society, Understanding China is an outstanding compendium of current reports on such critical issues as the status of Taiwan and Hong Kong, the nature of the Chinese armed forces upon the Chinese economy; the uneven development and structure of Chinese commerce and finance; the problems inherent between autocratic governance and democratic rule; the role of the arts; and more. Understanding China is very highly recommended and informative reading for American policy makers, businessmen, journalists, students of Chinese affairs, as well as China-bound travelers."—Midwest Book Review

Reviews from Goodreads



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As a first step toward understanding China, one can hardly do better than to spend some time with a good atlas. It is vital that we begin by understanding China’s diversity, and a key element in that diversity is its geography.
Superimposing an outline of the United States on an outline of China shows us two important geographical similarities between the two countries. China, covering some 3.7 million square miles, is nearly identical in size to the United States, which covers just over3.6 million square miles. The two countries are located at more or
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  • John Bryan Starr

  • John Bryan Starr is a lecturer in the Political Science Department at Yale University and serves as a consultant to the Tri-State Consortium. He has served as president of both the Yale China Association and the China Institute in New York City. He lives in New Canaan, Connecticut.