176p. bibliog. chron. index. maps. notes. photos. reprods. Abrams. Jan. 2019. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781419721212.
Gr 4–8—As rich as the history it relates, this book is thoroughly illustrated with artwork, maps, and photographs—most from the Field Museum Collection. As in Bardoe's other works, the writing is lucid and thoughtful, though the pace is very rapid; hundreds of years can pass in a paragraph. From the start, Bardoe stresses that there are "many Chinas." Five chapters cover prehistory (while introducing archaeological practices), early dynastic China, philosophies (Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, folk religion), interaction with other countries (14th to the 20th centuries), and China's future. Among the most attractive features in the book are the regular invitations for readers to imagine themselves living a specific cultural moment or role: in a Neolithic village, as a scholar-official, a nun, or a resident of Guangzhou during the Opium Wars. Politics (before the 1900s) and economics, agriculture and technology, are all given weight. Along the way, Bardoe describes the many contributions of China to culture and civilization, including several pages on opera, as well as acknowledging roles for, and restrictions on, the non-noble classes and women.
VERDICT An excellent primer on an important world power. Most middle school and YA collections will want to consider.

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