Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Pageant of Chinese History, by Elizabeth Seeger

I'm going to come clean and admit that I didn't read this entire book- it's a monster volume at 407 pages (not including the index) and I frankly don't have the time. That said, what I skimmed, I liked! The author wrote this book as a result of being a teacher- she noticed while teaching world history that it was very Eurocentric (starting with Greece and Rome and heading westward). But she wanted to cover, at bare minimum, China, Japan, and India as well. So she wrote this volume, as well as The Pageant of Russian History and several other volumes.

This book begins with the earliest tales of how China was settled and governed, and then covers the major ruling dynasties. Throughout the chronological history, the book includes chapters on relevant arts and religious beliefs that developed within the time periods in question. It's very readable at a middle school level, which was exactly Seeger's intent. The edition I skimmed was reprinted in 1967 as a fourth edition, and had been updated several times to include the Revolution and Communism, as well as a chapter on "The New China" which is not at all the same as the new China we know today, but hey!

Although I didn't have time to devote to this entire book, it's one I'd certainly like to have around and hope I'd see kids reading for fun.

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