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Best Books About China

Journey through the complexities of Chinese culture, history, and society with this collection of the most celebrated books on China, selected based on their repeated recommendations from reputable sources.

Recommendations from 52 articles, Bill Gates, Hillary Clinton, Neil deGrasse Tyson and 49 others.
100 books on the list
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China in Ten Words book cover
China in Ten Words
Yu Hua - 2011-11-08
Goodreads Rating
Explore the complexities and nuances of modern Chinese society through the eyes of one of China's most acclaimed writers. Framed by ten common words in Chinese culture, China in Ten Words is a candid and intimate portrait of the world's most populous nation. Through personal stories and astute analysis, Yu Hua delves into issues such as wealth inequality, piracy, and fraud, offering a unique perspective on the Chinese experience over the last several decades. Provocative and insightful, this book is a must-read for anyone looking to gain a deeper understanding of modern China.
Oracle Bones book cover
Oracle Bones
A Journey Between China's Past and Present
Peter Hessler - 2006-04-25
Goodreads Rating
Explore modern-day China and its links to the Western world through the lives of ordinary people in Oracle Bones. Peter Hessler illuminates the contrast between past and present and the evolving rhythms of a country in transformation. Follow a diverse cast, including an American writer living in Beijing, a forgotten ethnic minority member seeking freedom in the United States, and a scholar of oracle-bone inscriptions, all struggling to understand the historical forces that have shaped their lives. Hessler excavates the past, putting a human face on the history of China and capturing its soul as it undergoes a momentous change.
Factory Girls book cover
Factory Girls
From Village to City in a Changing China
Leslie T. Chang - 2008-10-07
Goodreads Rating
Explore the fascinating and previously untold lives of the migrant factory population in China, the largest migration in human history. Follow the stories of two young women, who over the course of three years attempt to rise from the assembly lines of Dongguan, an industrial city in China’s Pearl River Delta. Discover a world where nearly everyone is under thirty, where a few computer or English lessons can catapult you into a completely different social class, and where poverty and idleness of rural life drive young girls to leave home. With personal and historical frames of reference, author Leslie T. Chang provides new insight into China and demonstrates how this mass movement is changing individual lives and transforming Chinese society.
Wild Swans book cover
Wild Swans
Three Daughters of China
Jung Chang - 2003-08-12 (first published in 1991)
Goodreads Rating
Experience the resilience of three generations of Chinese women as they navigate the tumultuous 20th century. In this thrilling, real-life saga, witness their struggle for survival in a world of violence, revolution, and upheaval. Brimming with adventure, Wild Swans offers a rich historical account and a breathtaking tribute to the human spirit. Don't miss the 16 pages of powerful photographs accompanying this moving masterpiece.
On China book cover
On China
Henry Kissinger - 2011-05-17
Goodreads Rating
This insightful history delves into the rhythms and patterns of Chinese diplomacy, tracing key events including the initial encounters between China and modern European powers, the Sino-Soviet alliance, the Korean War, and Richard Nixon's trip to Beijing. With a new final chapter on the country's current role in global economics and politics, this book provides perspective on Chinese foreign affairs from one of the world's premier statesmen.
The Party book cover
The Party
The Secret World of China's Communist Rulers
Richard McGregor - 2010-06-08
Goodreads Rating
A must-read for anyone interested in Chinese politics, The Party offers an eye-opening investigation into the inner workings of China’s Communist Party. With rich detail and a nuanced approach, Richard McGregor explores the motivations, rivalries, and fears of the country’s leadership, revealing the integral role the Party has played in China’s rise to superpower status. This is an invaluable resource for understanding one of the most powerful governments in the world.
Age of Ambition book cover
Age of Ambition
Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China
Evan Osnos - 2014-05-13
Goodreads Rating
Explore the vibrant and colorful inner history of China during a moment of profound transformation in this Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction finalist and winner of the National Book Award. As the Beijing correspondent for The New Yorker, Evan Osnos witnessed profound political, economic, and cultural upheaval. In Age of Ambition, he delves into the clash between the rise of the individual and the Communist Party's struggle to retain control. Follow the moving stories of everyday people in a battleground filled with aspiration and authoritarianism, where only one can prevail.
Recommended by
Patrick Collison
The Art of War book cover
The Art of War
Sun Tzu - 2005-01-11 NaN
Goodreads Rating
A timeless masterpiece on military strategy based on ancient Chinese warfare and thought, The Art of War has been adapted for use in politics, business, and everyday life. Widely read and respected for centuries, this book provides tactics and insights that help gain advantage over opponents, whether in the boardroom or on the battlefield.
AI Superpowers book cover
AI Superpowers
China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order
Kai-fu Lee - 2018-09-25
Goodreads Rating
Discover how China has rapidly caught up with the US in the development of AI with Kai-Fu Lee's AI Superpowers. Lee, an expert in AI and China, argues that dramatic changes will happen sooner than many expect due to these developments. Lee also explores the impact of AI on both blue-collar and white-collar jobs and provides insight into possible solutions for the significant changes that are coming.
The Corpse Walker book cover
The Corpse Walker
Real Life Stories
Liao Yiwu - 2008-04-15 (first published in 2003)
Goodreads Rating
Discover the hidden world of regular Chinese citizens at the bottom of society in this captivating and eye-opening book. Meet a professional mourner, a human trafficker, a public toilet manager, and others who have battled life's hardships yet retain their dignity. With empathy and respect, the author delves into their lives, asking challenging questions and sharing their stories, creating an exceptional example of New Journalism. The Corpse Walker offers a fascinating look at modern China and its citizens that will provoke and surprise you.
Forgotten Ally by Rana Mitter
Wish Lanterns by Alec Ash
China by John Keay
Red Sorghum by Mo Yan
Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian
China in the 21st Century by Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom
The Souls of China by Ian Johnson
Travel to China by Josh Summers
The Search for Modern China by Jonathan D. Spence
Mao by Jung Chang
To Live by Yu Hua
River Town by Peter Hessler
Country Driving by Peter Hessler
A Hero Born by Jin Yong
The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Tales of China by Lu Xun
China's New Red Guards by Jude Blanchette
The Third Revolution by Elizabeth C. Economy
Destined for War by Graham Allison
The Rape of Nanking by Iris Chang
The Last Kings of Shanghai by Jonathan Kaufman
Out of Mao's Shadow by Philip P. Pan
Fortress Besieged by Qian Zhongshu
Street of Eternal Happiness by Rob Schmitz
The Story of the Stone, or The Dream of the Red Chamber, Vol. 1 by Cao Xueqin
Red China Blues by Jan Wong
The People's Republic of Amnesia by Louisa Lim
China's Economy by Arthur R. Kroeber
CHINA by Tom Carter
Beijing Coma by Ma Jian
The Cambridge Illustrated History of China by Patricia Buckley Ebrey
China Dream by Ma Jian
Shanghai Baby by Wei Hui
Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China by Ezra F. Vogel
Last Boat Out of Shanghai by Helen Zia
The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
The Beautiful Country and the Middle Kingdom by John Pomfret
Invisible China by Scott Rozelle
Red Star over China by Edgar Snow
The Web That Has No Weaver by Ted Kaptchuk
Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom by Stephen R. Platt
Riding the Iron Rooster by Paul Theroux
The Story of China by Michael Wood
Wealth and Power by Orville Schell
Tombstone by Yang Jisheng, Edward Friedman, Stacy Mosher, Guo Jian, Roderick MacFarquhar
Nine Continents by Xiaolu Guo
Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan
The Shortest History of China by Linda Jaivin
Mao’s Last Revolution by Roderick MacFarquhar
Jade King by Huo da
The Age of Confucian Rule by Dieter Kuhn
China Wakes by Nicholas D. Kristof, Sheryl Wudunn
The Last Days of Old Beijing by Michael Meyer
Lonely Planet China by Lonely Planet
Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister by Jung Chang
The Song of Everlasting Sorrow by Anyi Wang
Empress Orchid by Anchee Min
Red Dust by Ma Jian
Strange Beasts of China by Yan Ge
Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost
Love in a Fallen City by Eileen Chang
Shark's Fin and Sichuan Pepper by Fuchsia Dunlop
Life and Death in Shanghai by Cheng Nien
Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
The Great Firewall of China by James Griffiths
Stilwell and the American Experience in China by Barbara W. Tuchman
The Avoidable War by Kevin Rudd
Chronicle of a Blood Merchant by Yu Hua
Mao's Great Famine by Frank Dikötter
Unbound by John Shors
The Long Game by Rush Doshi, Kyle Tait, Kalorama
Overreach by Susan L. Shirk
China by Harold M. Tanner
Active Defense by M. Taylor Fravel
Let 100 Voices Speak by Liz Carter
Jade Dragon Mountain by Elsa Hart
Hidden Hand by Clive Hamilton
A Thousand Years of Good Prayers by Yiyun Li, Arezou Mokhtarian
Kingdom of Characters by Jing Tsu
Postcards from Tomorrow Square by James Fallows
The Runaway Wok by Ying Chang Compestine
The Vagrants by Yiyun Li
Midnight in Peking by Paul French
China's Second Continent by Howard W. French
The Future is Asian by Parag Khanna
The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Madame Mao by Anchee Min
The Peking Express by James M Zimmerman
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan