Modernization_x_Revolution_in_China - Preface Modernization...

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Preface Modernization and Revolution in China has been written primarily with the undergraduate college student and lay historian in mind. There are many fine textbooks on China, but the authors of this book always had problems trying to find a survey of Chinese history in one volume that could serve the needs of a course that focused on the modern era. We found that most textbooks on Chinese history were either too lengthy and detailed in their coverage of the imperial period or, if devoted to the Communist era, incomplete in their treatment of the all-important nineteenth-century background. It is this gap in the litera- ture that this history of modern China hopes to fill. The authors ofthis book believe that an understanding ofcontempo- rary China requires an appreciation of the rich historical traditions that molded its past. China is one of the world's oldest, geographically contiguous civilizations, and for this reason alone, history probably looms larger in the Chinese consciousness than it does in the minds and thoughts of most other peoples. There are very few civilizations that have shown such reverence for the wisdom of the ancestral past. A deep sensitivity and respect for historical traditions also has meant that the Chinese have had to travel down a much longer road to accommo- date their culture to the demands of "modernization," that is, the pano- ply of forces that move a society away from old habits and customs in the direction of urbanization, industrialization, and the rationalization ofthought and behavior. The central themes around which we have woven our narrative are those of modernization and revolution. These processes of change can be seen in the crucial nineteenth century-hence the great amount of space devoted to that period in this text---and partly were the product of outside influences. Yet from the outset there was an ongoing strug-
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ix viii PREFACE gle between external forces and internal difficulties and differences, that shaped the outcome of China's efforts to modernize. As such, these posed challenges that were far greater than those confronted by other states that came late to modernization, especially Russia and Japan, countries against which China's attempts at modernization are frequently compared. The manner in which the Chinese employed their past to overcome these challenges had a seminal influence on the ways in which the Communists structured their revolution and, we believe, continues to weigh heavily on the course of events in China today. . . Modernization is a difficult concept to define. This is partly due to the complexity of changes associated with it as well as the wide variety of ways in which nations have gone through the experience. We define modernization here as the process by which societies move from a rural, agrarian base to urban, industrial structures of living via the application of science, technology, and rational modes of thought. Ele- ments commonly associated with such restructuring of the social order
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Modernization_x_Revolution_in_China - Preface Modernization...

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