100 books like June Fourth

By Jeremy Brown,

Here are 100 books that June Fourth fans have personally recommended if you like June Fourth. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Mao's Last Revolution

Andrew G. Walder Author Of China Under Mao: A Revolution Derailed

From my list on China from Mao through Tiananmen.

Why am I passionate about this?

I took my first course about Chinese politics in 1973, when the country was still in the tumultuous last years of the Mao era. In a teaching career that began in 1982, I have spent long periods of research and teaching in China and Hong Kong. China’s shifting course has been a constant source of fascination, encouragement, and at times dismay. It is hard to imagine that the impoverished and unstable country of the 1970s would rise to become such a major economic power, one that despite its impressive expansion still faces intractable barriers to its future advancement.

Andrew's book list on China from Mao through Tiananmen

Andrew G. Walder Why did Andrew love this book?

This instant classic was the first to draw deeply on a wide range of previously inaccessible sources about the Cultural Revolution of 1966 to 1976. Highly readable and authoritative, it provides extensive insight into Mao’s actions and those of his subordinates and victims and documents the destructive impact of these conflicts all across China from the initial salvos at Peking University in May 1966 to the immediate aftermath of Mao’s death, which led to the arrest of Mao’s most ardent radical followers, the “Gang of Four”.

By Michael Schoenhals, Roderick Macfarquhar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mao's Last Revolution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Cultural Revolution was a watershed event in the history of the People's Republic of China, the defining decade of half a century of communist rule. Before 1966, China was a typical communist state, with a command economy and a powerful party able to keep the population under control. But during the Cultural Revolution, in a move unprecedented in any communist country, Mao unleashed the Red Guards against the party. Tens of thousands of officials were humiliated, tortured, and even killed. Order had to be restored by the military, whose methods were often equally brutal.

In a masterly book, Roderick…


Book cover of Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China

Christine Loh Author Of No Third Person: Rewriting the Hong Kong Story

From my list on the Chinese Communist Party and Hong Kong.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am East-and-West. Born in British Hong Kong, studied in England, and worked for a US multinational in Beijing, I had a range of experiences that traversed Chinese and western cultures. Sucked into politics in Hong Kong prior to and post-1997, I had a ringside seat to colonial Hong Kong becoming a part of China. I too went from being a British citizen to a Chinese national. Along the way, I got interested in the environment and was appointed a minister in Hong Kong in 2012. I have always read a lot about the world and how things work or don’t work. I hope you like what I have enjoyed!

Christine's book list on the Chinese Communist Party and Hong Kong

Christine Loh Why did Christine love this book?

Deng Xiaoping is the most important person in contemporary Chinese affairs. It was under his time as the paramount leader of China that modernization started in earnest. He judged policy effectiveness on whether it worked or not. His story is engagingly told by historian Ezra Vogel.

By Ezra F. Vogel,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Lionel Gelber Prize
National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist

An Economist Best Book of the Year | A Financial Times Book of the Year | A Wall Street Journal Book of the Year | A Washington Post Book of the Year | A Bloomberg News Book of the Year | An Esquire China Book of the Year | A Gates Notes Top Read of the Year

Perhaps no one in the twentieth century had a greater long-term impact on world history than Deng Xiaoping. And no scholar of contemporary East Asian history and culture is better qualified…


Book cover of Tibet in Agony: Lhasa 1959

Andrew G. Walder Author Of China Under Mao: A Revolution Derailed

From my list on China from Mao through Tiananmen.

Why am I passionate about this?

I took my first course about Chinese politics in 1973, when the country was still in the tumultuous last years of the Mao era. In a teaching career that began in 1982, I have spent long periods of research and teaching in China and Hong Kong. China’s shifting course has been a constant source of fascination, encouragement, and at times dismay. It is hard to imagine that the impoverished and unstable country of the 1970s would rise to become such a major economic power, one that despite its impressive expansion still faces intractable barriers to its future advancement.

Andrew's book list on China from Mao through Tiananmen

Andrew G. Walder Why did Andrew love this book?

For years, the Dalai Lama was courted by Beijing in efforts to incorporate Tibet into the new Chinese Communist State. Drawing on official Chinese documents and memoirs and interviews with Tibetan emigres, Li pulls together a dramatic account of the maneuverings, miscalculations, and events during a critical period that culminated in an uprising in Lhasa that was violently crushed by the People’ Liberation Army, leading to the dramatic flight of the Dalai Lama to India. The account provides fresh new light on a dramatic failure of Chinese policy whose consequences are felt to the present day.

By Jianglin Li, Susan Wilf (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tibet in Agony as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Chinese Communist government has twice invoked large-scale military might to crush popular uprisings in capital cities. The second incident-the notorious massacre in Tiananmen Square in 1989-is well known. The first, thirty years earlier in Tibet, remains little understood today. Yet in wages of destruction, bloodshed, and trampling of human rights, the tragic toll of March 1959 surpassed Tiananmen.

Tibet in Agony provides the first clear historical account of the Chinese crackdown in Lhasa. Sifting facts from the distortions of propaganda and partisan politics, Jianglin Li reconstructs a chronology of events that lays to rest lingering questions about what happened…


Book cover of Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962

Zhang-Yue Zhou Author Of Achieving Food Security in China: The Challenges Ahead

From my list on understanding China’s great famine.

Why am I passionate about this?

My desire for food-related studies originates from my personal experience of starvation. Born in 1957 in rural China, I soon stepped into China’s Great Famine (1958-1962). During this famine, over 30 million people died of hunger, mostly peasants, including my grandpa (my mother’s father). As a growing child, I was hungry and today I still remember how my family struggled to feed us. After becoming a student at an agricultural university, I had the opportunity to think and started to ponder over food-related issues. After graduation, I became an academic and have since focused my energy on studies concerning food, chiefly, China’s food supply and food security. 

Zhang-Yue's book list on understanding China’s great famine

Zhang-Yue Zhou Why did Zhang-Yue love this book?

I treat Yang’s book as a bible for understanding China’s Great Famine (1958-1962). This famine remains little known to many people, including China’s younger generations. The Communist regime censors writings about this famine and controls the access to famine-related data and information.

As a senior journalist, Yang had privileged access to archives. He spent about twenty years piecing together the famine. His account of the famine is comprehensive with detail. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand China’s Great Famine. It greatly helped my studies in improving China’s food security and in avoiding future famines.

By Yang Jisheng, Guo Jian (translator), Stacy Mosher (translator)

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Tombstone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Yang Jisheng's Tombstone is the book that broke the silence on of one of history's most terrible crimes

More people died in Mao's Great Famine than in the entire First World War, yet this story has remained largely untold, until now. Still banned in China, Tombstone draws on the author's privileged access to official and unofficial sources to uncover the full human cost of the tragedy, and create an unprecedented work of historical reckoning.

'A book of great importance' Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans

'The first proper history of China's great famine ... So thorough is his documentation that…


Book cover of Moment in Peking

Olivia Milburn Author Of Kingdoms in Peril, Volume 1: The Curse of the Bao Lords

From my list on epic historical narratives from around the world.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a translator specializing in Chinese historical novels, and also an academic researching marginalized groups in Chinese history—ethnic minorities, the disabled, people with mental health issues, and so on. The treatment of marginalized people tells you a lot about what is going on within mainstream society. I’ve always been interested in stories about people from distant times and places, and I have a particular love of long sagas, something that you can really get your teeth into. Kingdoms in Peril covers five hundred years of history: I translated this for my own enjoyment and was surprised when I realized that I’d managed to write 850,000 words for fun!

Olivia's book list on epic historical narratives from around the world

Olivia Milburn Why did Olivia love this book?

Moment in Peking is an elegy to a lost world and a past way of life.

The main character, Yao Mulan, falls victim to human traffickers in 1900 as her family flees from Beijing. Although she is soon rescued, this experience turns her life in new and unexpected directions. We follow Yao Mulan through war, famine, and revolution, the fall of the Qing dynasty, the tumultuous Republican era, the rise of warlords, and the Japanese invasion in 1936, facing every challenge with indomitable courage.

This is a great evocation of early twentieth century Chinese history, from the perspective of someone who lived through terrible events.

By Lin Yutang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moment in Peking as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The English Works of Lin Yutang collected and published this time lists more than 10 influential original works including A Leaf in the Storm, The Wisdom of Laotse and Lady Wu besides My Country and My People, Moment in Peking, The Art of Living published by our press. It is the first time for such a collection to be published in China and also for some of them to appear in original English. In addition, in order to better introduce and display Lin Yutang and his works, we have collected precious photos from his former residence in Taipei and his…


Book cover of The People's Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited

Shane Strate Author Of The Lost Territories: Thailand's History of National Humiliation

From my list on how states manipulate historical memory.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a teacher and historian, I’m interested in the collision of cultures that resulted from western intervention in Asia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For young Asian nationalists, historical writing was a weapon to be wielded in the fight against imperialism. It is equally important for us to understand the forces that shape our collective memories and to recognize that historians don’t just uncover the past—they produce it. 

Shane's book list on how states manipulate historical memory

Shane Strate Why did Shane love this book?

June 4, 1989 changed everything in China. When People’s Liberation Army soldiers opened fire on unarmed civilians, they killed hundreds of people and destroyed the political legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party. A quarter-century later, this event remains buried in China's modern history, successfully expunged from collective memory. In The People's Republic of Amnesia, Louisa Lim investigates how the Chinese state re-wrote its own history to absolve itself of those killings. By explaining state efforts to erase Tiananmen, and how non-state actors attempt to revive its memory, this book invites us to consider the consequences of suppressing the past.  

By Louisa Lim,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The People's Republic of Amnesia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"One of the best analyses of the impact of Tiananmen throughout China in the years since 1989." -The New York Times Book Review

On June 4, 1989, People's Liberation Army soldiers opened fire on unarmed civilians in Beijing, killing untold hundreds of people. A quarter-century later, this defining event remains buried in China's modern history, successfully expunged from collective memory. In The People's Republic of Amnesia, NPR correspondent Louisa Lim offers a much-needed response to the silence surrounding the events of June 4th, charting how deeply they affected China at the time and in the 25 years
since.


Book cover of The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed

Isham Cook Author Of At the Teahouse Cafe: Essays from the Middle Kingdom

From my list on old Beijing.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having lived in China for almost three decades, I am naturally interested in the expat writing scene. I am a voracious reader of fiction and nonfiction on China, past and present. One constant in this country is change, and that requires keeping up with the latest publications by writers who have lived here and know it well. As an author of three novels, one short story collection, and three essay collections on China myself, I believe I have something of my own to contribute, although I tend to hew to gritty, offbeat themes to capture a contemporary China unknown to the West.

Isham's book list on old Beijing

Isham Cook Why did Isham love this book?

Books on Chinese cities by foreigners have long lamented the redevelopment juggernaut’s steamrolling of old buildings and neighborhoods (Juliet Bredon’s Peking for one). Meyer’s exhaustively researched study of the Beijing neighborhood in which he lived in the early 2000s takes this a step further to a grassroots political call for action, before “replicas replace architectural heritage across China.” By illuminating his neighbors’ lives and their histories and reaching back into the city’s past, Meyer attempts to immortalize the disappearing Dashilar neighborhood literally in the form of a book, which if nothing else will be of future documentary value. Driving the old-vs.-new dichotomy too hard, however, obscures the more interesting question of how Chinese cities today are creatively blending the old and the new, as again they have long done in the past. As a longtime Beijing resident, I am stuck with the present and nonetheless find that history doesn’t stop…

By Michael Meyer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Days of Old Beijing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Journalist Michael Meyer has spent his adult life in China, first in a small village as a Peace Corps volunteer, the last decade in Beijing--where he has witnessed the extraordinary transformation the country has experienced in that time. For the past two years he has been completely immersed in the ancient city, living on one of its famed hutong in a century-old courtyard home he shares with several families, teaching English at a local elementary school--while all around him "progress" closes in as the neighborhood is methodically destroyed to make way for high-rise buildings, shopping malls, and other symbols of…


Book cover of Party Members

Isham Cook Author Of The Mustachioed Woman of Shanghai

From my list on written by foreigners in China.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having lived in China for almost three decades, I am naturally interested in the expat writing scene. I am a voracious reader of fiction and nonfiction on China, past and present. One constant in this country is change, and that requires keeping up with the latest publications by writers who have lived here and know it well. As an author of three novels, one short story collection, and three essay collections on China myself, I believe I have something of my own to contribute of documentary value, although I tend to hew to gritty, offbeat themes to capture a contemporary China unknown to the West.

Isham's book list on written by foreigners in China

Isham Cook Why did Isham love this book?

Here we have the most politically incorrect of novels, an unflinchingly vicious take on China by a Westerner, though Party Members (pun on the second word) does have an acknowledged precursor in fellow Englishman Ralph Townsend’s Ways That Are Dark, an equally unsentimental account of China published in 1933. We follow the faceless bureaucrat protagonist, Yang Wei, as he inventively combines his passions for sex and KFC (China’s comfort food of choice) at one and the same time, and eggs on the state-sanctioned thugs who set his mother’s house on fire to clear it for developers – with her inside. To be fair, China is evolving out of the nasty pre-2008 Olympics era Meursault is documenting and this is after all satire. But the novel is not only very funny, it’s required reading precisely due to its pariah status.

By Arthur Meursault,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Party Members as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Deep within the heart of China, far from the glamour of Shanghai and Beijing, lies the Chinese every-city of Huaishi. This worker’s paradise of smog and concrete is home to Party Member Yang Wei, a mediocre man in a mediocre job. His content life of bureaucratic monotony is shattered by an encounter with the advanced consumer goods he has long been deprived of. Aided by the cynical and malicious advice of an unlikely mentor, Yang Wei embarks on a journey of greed, corruption, and murder that takes him to the diseased underbelly of Chinese society. 

Will Yang Wei achieve his…


Book cover of Tao of Sketching: The Complete Guide to Chinese Sketching Techniques

Sylvia Vetta Author Of Brushstrokes in Time

From my list on the heart and soul of China.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied modern Chinese history so, when Qu Leilei told me the story of the Stars Art Movement, I couldn’t understand why I hadn't heard their courageous story. I spent three years interviewing Qu Leilei, researching and visiting China with him before writing the Stars story as a historical novel. I am a freelance writer, author, and speaker.

Sylvia's book list on the heart and soul of China

Sylvia Vetta Why did Sylvia love this book?

I was reviewing Qu Leilei’s Everyone’s life is an Epic at the Ashmolean when a chance encounter changed my life. While writing Qu's profile, I learned about the first contemporary art movement in China - the Stars in Beijing in 1979 - and spent three years interviewing him for the background to Brushstrokes in Time

Leilei’s art is imbued with deep humanity but he is also a fine teacher- hence my recommending The Tao of Sketching. Daoism influenced traditional Chinese art and is a focus for meditation. The empty space is important. If you want to get into that cultural mindset, try Leilei’s books.

By Qu Lei Lei,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tao of Sketching as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Award-winning artist Qu Lei Lei offers an inspirational view of art from the Chinese perspective. Instead of looking at the sketch as an end in itself, he focuses on the work as personal fulfillment for the artist and as a valued meditation. All the essential techniques are here?from choosing and using materials to mixing the ink to mastering brushstrokes. With the natural world as his subject, Lei Lei pulls out key features?water, trees, landscapes?and focuses on practical ways of depicting their different varieties. A master class covers techniques for capturing pets at play, and for conveying the spirit of all…


Book cover of Longevity Park

Karen Laura Thornber Author Of Global Healing: Literature, Advocacy, Care

From my list on aging and end-of-life decisions and care.

Why am I passionate about this?

Karen Thornber is Harry Tuchman Levin Professor in Literature and Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard. Her work brings humanistic insights to global challenges.  Thornber is the author of the award-winning scholarly books Empire of Texts in Motion and Ecoambiguity as well as most recently Global Healing: Literature, Advocacy, Care. Current projects include books on gender justice in Asia, mental health, inequality/injustice, sustainability/climate change, and indigeneity.

Karen's book list on aging and end-of-life decisions and care

Karen Laura Thornber Why did Karen love this book?

This expertly translated Chinese novel tells the compelling story of a family in Beijing with an aging patriarch. Narrated largely from the perspective of the rural nurse hired to care for him, Longevity Park reveals the many difficulties facing Chinese individuals as they age as well as the difficulties facing Chinese families with an aging loved one. These challenges resonate with those of individuals and families globally, including pervasive stigmas against the elderly, particularly those who are not as agile mentally or physically as they once were; and the particular hurdles facing family members with their own mental health and other concerns. Zhou’s novel also eloquently describes the many hurdles facing healthcare providers.

By Zhou Daxin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Longevity Park as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

China is ageing. Its shrinking households, overworked and overstretched, struggle to carry the burden of care for their elderly. Retired Beijing judge Uncle Xiao is one among millions of old\-timers who face a hopeless choice: accept a lonely decline, or chase dubious miracle cures. Then into his life steps Miss Zhong, a young rural nurse with her own share of problems. The two have little in common, but as time delivers tragedies they learn that family can take many forms. Will this unlikely pair weather lifes storms together, and will Xiao find warmth in his sunset years?


5 book lists we think you will like!

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