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Publisher's Summary

How can we account for China’s momentous - and almost wholly unanticipated - global rise? And what does it mean, for us in the West and for humanity’s future?

Speaking to these vital and fascinating questions, these 48 penetrating lectures by Professor Baum bring to vivid life the human struggles, the titanic political upheavals, and the spectacular speed of China’s modern rebirth. Offering multilevel insight into one of the most astounding real-life dramas of modern history, the lectures weave together the richly diverse developments and sociopolitical currents that created the China you now read about in the headlines.

You’ll get a detailed understanding of all the core events in China’s century of stunning change, including the collapse of the Qing dynasty, the Republican era and civil wars, the "Great Leap Forward", the Cultural Revolution, and the post-Mao economic "miracle". Throughout, Professor Baum reveals highly unusual details that enrich the cinematic sweep of the story. For example, you’ll learn about the Christian warlord who baptized his troops with a fire hose, the strange kidnapping of Chiang K’ai-shek, and Professor Baum’s own smuggling of top-secret documents out of Taiwan.

A core strength of these lectures is that they make sense of the dramatic events of the story by getting deeply at what underlay them, culturally, socially, and historically - leaving you with a nuanced knowledge of the forces moving China’s modern emergence. Bringing alive the passionate reinvention of China with deep discernment and humanity, they portray the confounding, majestic, heart-rending, and visionary story of a modern giant.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2010 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2010 The Great Courses

What listeners say about The Fall and Rise of China

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A great course

As Chinese myself, I am frankly very critical to materials about China. Read too many bad ones written through the lens of imperialism and Eurocentrism in the past. So I would say this course exceed my expectation and will recommend it.

5 people found this helpful

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Perfect Summarization of Modern China

This lecture series was the perfect summarization of modern China. Professor Baum's personal experiences and in depth analysis sheds light on many of the events of the era.

Highly recommended for anyone who is curious about the modern Chinese experience.

4 people found this helpful

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  • MC
  • 2019-07-09

Very detailed and dispassionate view

I found the level of detail perfect. It was a bit of work to follow but it was a lecture after all, not a novel. I truly enjoyed it.

2 people found this helpful

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Educational + Entertaining

This modern Chinese history is well told. It gave me a much greater insight into China and its modern masters. China's history in the 17th and 1800s should be well-known by all those who tend to criticize China's behavior today. We can only hope China treats the west better when it achieves supremacy than the west treated China during this period

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Not biased one way or the other, well done!

Some other books on China history are either biased negatively toward China from a western view or they are biased in a way that it is "Communist party approved". Baum does an awesome job on avoiding both. Why? He was one of the furthest back China watchers and has a great understanding. If you know some simple Mandarin you should be able to pick up a lot of the things he throws in Chinese. They are short sentences which he immediately translates. He is an excellent narrator and story teller.

His personal experience in China makes this book unique, particularly the part of the book where he describes his chance to read a classified CCP document. There are some interesting facts which the CCP has chosen to leave out of its official history books, Baum uncovers! A great book!

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Illuminating

Illuminating, given the importance of the subject's presence on the curent world stage. My sympathy grew considerably for the common citizens that have been swept along, for many generations, by the Class 4 rapids that has been the cultural and political forces of China's history in the past 200 some years.

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A great insight into modern china

Very engaging and wide ranging lectures that detailed important events in modern Chinese history. I recommend.

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Worth listening to.

It was easy to follow. Very informative especially for someone who has lived through the times discussed but been unaware of the subtleties. Very applicable to our current global state of affairs. (2020)

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Perfect

He understands China exceptionally well through his official expertise, travels and involvement with major events. What a great series!

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Excellent with some flaws

Good energetic overview. Some criticisms: 1. Too many adjectives and adverbs. 2. Too many pointless self-referential anecdotes. 3. No useful overview of religious persecution in communist China apart from brief oblique mention of Tibet & the Falun Gong.

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  • Yu-Chin
  • 2013-12-15

Offers excellent objective perspective!

What did you love best about The Fall and Rise of China?

Objective perspective of the events and captured the essense of leader's characteristics.

What does Professor Richard Baum bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The tone used to describe the events and his personal encounters which would not be conveyed through text alone.

Any additional comments?

As a Taiwan-borne Chinese, it was interesting to contrast the objective narrative of the last 100 years or so history with what I had learnt in Taiwan during childhood. Great to learn aspect of China that was foreign to me before taking this course. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of understanding of not just the historical events, but the Chinese psyche during those times. Highly recommend it! (I've already recommended this to friends and family)

69 people found this helpful

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  • Alan Rither
  • 2014-03-27

Best of the Great Courses - Top 10 of all

What did you love best about The Fall and Rise of China?

Professor Baum's encyclopedic knowledge of the subject and his personal love for the culture and the people.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The embalmed remains of Chairman Mao looking green from too much formaldehyde. It was an insight 'behind the curtain,' so to speak, that one would never read in a serious work about China but that revealed the humor behind the god-man's image.

Have you listened to any of Professor Richard Baum’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This is his only audiobook that I know of and he died in 2012 from cancer that he thought was gone when he recorded these lectures.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It is far too long and complicated to listen to it in one sitting, but I wanted to get back into the car where I keep my player and sometimes went on extended drives to avoid turning off a lecture in the middle.

Any additional comments?

The world has lost a great scholar and a generous human. I can only hope that his lectures in this Great Courses audiobook will inspire a new generation of people to learn more about China as the 'Sleeping Giant' takes a leading role on the world stage in this century.

28 people found this helpful

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  • Tommy D'Angelo
  • 2016-12-20

Mixed Impression

Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Richard Baum?

I have a mixed impression of this course. It had periods of extremely gripping lectures leading you to want more (the first 20 or so were very well done---four or five star quality). But then there were also many lectures that failed to capture my engagement and I found myself in zoning out mode (latter half of the course). This is the only real negative I can come up with but it is interesting that he could go from thrilling to listen to in one lecture to uninteresting and "hard to get through" in another lecture.

The length of the course may have contributed to the gradual decline. A 30-36 lecture course would seem a perfect length to me. 48 courses to study 150-200 years of history (or for that matter 42 lectures to cover 100 years) just seems too much and leads to many lectures feeling way too micro-level.

I do like the fact that the Professor split the lectures into distinct periods of years and used the timeframes in the lecture titles so you know what the boundaries are vs. the non-linear approach other history professors sometimes take in which timeframes bleed over into other lectures and you're left feeling like you are traveling back and forth in time.

I also liked the personal stories the professor sprinkled in to the historical narrative from his numerous trips to China. For the most part they were not overdone or tangential. He used them to provide true real life examples to illustrate certain points (such as his exposure to the first entrepreneurs in the 1980's or his experience in which an older woman berated a countryman for speaking to Professor Baum---a foreigner). And they brought history to life.

Lectures well worth my time: 2-3, 7-13, 15-16, 18-19, 25-26, 33, 43-44, 47-48

His closing lecture was excellent and thought-provoking: the question is not whether China will rise to world power status but whether China will be a force for peace or for conflict. His advice on how the United States should respond was intriguing: take an accepting stance---almost nurturing, and be willing to share the global scene vs. resistance to China's inevitable rise. And for those of you concerned of a belligerent Chinese military, this keeps sticking in my head: China is just as wary of our intentions towards them as we are towards them. It is an interesting dance of a cautious friendship but remember that the two countries are bound to one another economically so much so that it is in neither's best interest to see the other fail.

Prior to buying this course I had listened to "Foundations of Eastern Civilization" as well as "Great Minds of the Eastern Intellect Tradition" and was exposed to quite alot of Chinese history. But when I found this course I was interested in another professor's perspective, especially one who is obviously very passionate about Chinese society and its people. Notwithstanding the length of the course, I am glad I gave it a chance since my knowledge of recent Chinese history was deepened and led to a much better understanding of how China became the society it is today.

If your curiosity falls in the range of how the Manchu dynasty fell, how the Communist party came to power, consolidated power, and has ruled the country up until the present day then this course will do you well. If you are looking more for a "big history" view of Chinese history and society I would recommend "Foundations of Eastern Civilization". If you are more interested in the great philosophies of the region, then reach for "Great Minds of the Eastern Intellect Tradition".

55 people found this helpful

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  • D. Millar
  • 2014-01-30

Like everybody says. Excellent.

Where does The Fall and Rise of China rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Very high. I am a scholar on the subject and even I find some of the minutia of Chinese Communist history tedious. Yet Richard Baum makes it so compelling that I think even the non-expert will find it enjoying-- all 16 hours of it.

What does Professor Richard Baum bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His personal anecdote about his own role in discovering the split between Mao Zedong and his top lieutenants (Deng Xiaoping and Liu Xiaoqi) was excellent. Also, thank god you have someone who can pronounce Chinese!

15 people found this helpful

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  • Kirk
  • 2013-12-30

Must listen to this!!!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Fall and Rise of China to be better than the print version?

This audio version of The Fall and Rise of China is very interesting and Professor Baum is so excited about his subject matter, he makes it entertaining! His passion transfers to the listener! I will probably listen to it a second time!

What did you like best about this story?

I am around a lot of Chinese people so I wanted to learn about their country so I downloaded this course and I was so surprised at how interesting China's History is and the professor is fabulous! Highly recommended! It was so interesting how he got his material for his Ph.D. dissertation. Amazing story! Listen to find out!

Which scene was your favorite?

Some of the situations that occurred while he was in China were my favorite. He was able to witness history in the making.

15 people found this helpful

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  • shaun
  • 2014-01-11

Simply Stunning

If you could sum up The Fall and Rise of China in three words, what would they be?

an amazing gift! this series really opened my eyes to the culture and I couldn't have been more happy!

What other book might you compare The Fall and Rise of China to and why?

a text book, however, the narrator does a fantastic job and is very engaging

11 people found this helpful

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  • Kelly
  • 2013-11-22

Gripping!

What made the experience of listening to The Fall and Rise of China the most enjoyable?

This was just great story telling by a true enthusiast and expert.

Any additional comments?

I was sad when it ended.

11 people found this helpful

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  • owen
  • 2015-06-01

Masterpiece, just finished it, and starting it again

Richard Baum is incredible. An engaging 40+ hr history audible book is no simple task. Couldn't stop listening. I just moved to China, running a consumer business. Anyone living or working in China should listen to this. Couldn't imagine not having this context. My Chinese customers appreciate my knowledge of Chinese history, and my interest in key historical players and events.

If I had six stars to give I would do it in a heartbeat.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Peter
  • 2014-02-08

You dont need a tweed jacket to enjoy these books!

Any additional comments?

I've always enjoyed history. This is my second book of "The Great Courses".
My first one was "The Other Side of History".

The Professor in both cases are contagiously passionate. They are authorities of thier respective fields yet demonstrate natural humility. World class speakers giving exciting lectures meant for anyone interested in history. Not just scholars.

Extremely refreshing audiobooks after listening to so many bestsellers.
I hope Audible continues to expand The Great Courses library.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Gary
  • 2019-01-05

I blame the Gang of Four for my ingorance on China

It was not my fault; the Gang of Four poisoned my mind as I held up five fingers with the implication being that Mao was at fault too. I think I’ll blame them too for me not having had known anything about China history since 1750 including how creepy the British were with their Boxer Rebellion and foisting opium on to the Chinese masses in order to enrich the coffers of the British, or for have not knowing what Maoism meant and how cults can lead to a ‘cultural revolution’, starvation and mass murder.

You ever notice that no matter where you are in the world ‘the last refuge of a scoundrel is patriotism’, and when Samuel Johnson said that he surely meant exclusive patriotism the kind of patriotism that morphs into Nationalism. The lecturer points out that the heroes of Tiananmen Square were called unpatriotic by the authoritarian oligarchy who was ruling over China at the time. No matter where or when we are in space or time scoundrels appeal to patriotism in order to justify their privileges and enslavement of the other. The powerful and the privileged love to justify their status and the status quo by demeaning others not like them by calling them unpatriotic, and in the case of Tiananmen Square it’s clear who the real heroes were and who were the scoundrels.

The lecturer made a point of how important it is to have good leadership at the top and what a difference a judicious decision can make. As the lecturer stated, an American ambassador was approached by a Russian ambassador in 1968 and wanted to know what the US would do if they ‘took out’ the Chinese Nuclear armament sites. Wisely President Nixon let it be known in no uncertain terms that would not be tolerated. The lecturer makes the point how different history could have been if somebody else had been in charge; I don’t know maybe if the president in those days had been someone who believed absurd statements such as ‘climate change is a Chinese hoax’ just maybe the world would have been a whole lot worse than it is today.

Instead of blaming the Gang of Four for my own ignorance I could have just listened to this highly informative lecture series on China.

7 people found this helpful

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  • highwoltage
  • 2020-12-20

A great overview of modern China history

Unfortunately mr Baum is not longer around since his experience and perspective on events since this was written/read would be most welcome. A very useful and interesting cause.