Reading Note: An Introduction to Research in Chinese History (Tonami et al.)

Tonami Mamoru 砺波護, Kishimoto Mio 岸本美緒, and Sugiyama Masaaki 杉山正明 (eds.) Chūgoku rekishi kenkyū nyūmon 中国歴史研究入門. Nagoya: Nagoya daigaku shuppankai, 2006. (View on Webcat Plus)

If you ever need to get a quick overview of Japanese scholarship on a particular period of Chinese history, this is the book to go to. It divides the entirety of Chinese history into eleven chronological chapters of thirty pages or less (plus one thematic chapter on China in the world and two appendixes on reference works). Each chapter gives a concise overview of past scholarship, major sources, and relevant reference works. Each chapter is written by several specialists of the period, with a total of twenty-nine contributors for the whole book. The structure and emphasis differ quite a bit depending on the chapter, but overall it is very easy to find a particular subsection of interest, making the book a great reference work.

Based on my quick survey of the Ming and Qing chapters, the sections on sources and reference works may not be the most useful for non-Japanese scholars, since there are other Chinese and English guides that are more detailed and comprehensive. The reviews of past scholarship, on the other hand, are great – unless someone has written a review article on a particular period, these are probably the most concise summaries of Japanese scholarship that we will ever be able to find. The book also incorporates major Chinese and English language scholarship, which is a plus.

In all, this book should provide a convenient supplement to the more detailed but somewhat dated guide by Yamane Yukio 山根幸夫, Chugokushi kenkyu nyumon 中国史研究入門 (1983; Chinese translation available through 社会科学文献出版社, 2000).

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  1. The Weiwei

     /  2012/01/27

    now I have to follow your blog. I’ll be a fan.

  2. this is useful!


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