100 books like Manchu

By Robert S Elegant,

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

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Ghosts of Gold Mountain: The Epic Story of the Chinese Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad

Michael A. DeMarco Author Of Wuxia America: The Timely Emergence of a Chinese American Hero

From my list on uniquely fantastic, yet possible heroic skills.

Why am I passionate about this?

Life is pretty dull without passion. Since early childhood I was attracted to Chinese philosophy, then to all the cultural aspects that reflect it. At the same time, I felt the blood in my veins drawing me to ancestral roots. Learning about other cultures helps us learn about our own. I’ve been driven by sympathy for the immigrant experience, the suffering, and sacrifices made for a better, peaceful life. What prepared me to write Wuxia America includes my academic studies, living and working in Asia, and involvement in martial arts. My inspiration for writing stems from a wish to encourage ways to improve human relations.

Michael's book list on uniquely fantastic, yet possible heroic skills

Michael A. DeMarco Why did Michael love this book?

The Chinese American presence in the USA started with the gold rush and the building of the transcontinental railroad.

It was a blessing to find Chang’s non-fiction work because he utilized a tremendous about of research to accurately cover the book’s topic. I’m also grateful that his writing style is not dull.

Building a railroad trestle through the High Sierra mountains in winter implies work conditions that affect laborers as well as investors. Chang strings the human sentiments throughout the history of those who participated in noble fashion, Chinese and non-Chinese alike.

In portraying the Chinese experience, Chang’s book as underscores how vital the transcontinental railroad was to the development of America. 

By Gordon H. Chang,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

“Gripping . . . Chang has accomplished the seemingly impossible . . . He has written a remarkably rich, human, and compelling story of the railroad Chinese.” — Peter Cozzens, Wall Street Journal

WINNER OF THE ASIAN/PACIFIC AMERICAN AWARD FOR LITERATURE 
WINNER OF THE CHINESE AMERICAN LIBRARIANS ASSOCIATION BEST BOOK AWARD

A groundbreaking, breathtaking history of the Chinese workers who built the Transcontinental Railroad, helping to forge modern America only to disappear into the shadows of history until now

From across the sea, they came by the thousands, escaping war and poverty in southern China to seek their fortunes in…


Book cover of Between Salt Water and Holy Water: A History of Southern Italy

Michael A. DeMarco Author Of Wuxia America: The Timely Emergence of a Chinese American Hero

From my list on uniquely fantastic, yet possible heroic skills.

Why am I passionate about this?

Life is pretty dull without passion. Since early childhood I was attracted to Chinese philosophy, then to all the cultural aspects that reflect it. At the same time, I felt the blood in my veins drawing me to ancestral roots. Learning about other cultures helps us learn about our own. I’ve been driven by sympathy for the immigrant experience, the suffering, and sacrifices made for a better, peaceful life. What prepared me to write Wuxia America includes my academic studies, living and working in Asia, and involvement in martial arts. My inspiration for writing stems from a wish to encourage ways to improve human relations.

Michael's book list on uniquely fantastic, yet possible heroic skills

Michael A. DeMarco Why did Michael love this book?

My grandparents were from southern Italy. Over the years, I had always wanted to learn about the area, its history, and culture. Even in the Italian language, there is a lack of any quality publications dealing with the south.

Finally, a book was published in 2005 filling this gap—Astarita’s book is praiseworthy for its in-depth coverage of south Italy. Rather than scavenging together hundreds of books and articles for information, there came this main reference work.

Written by Astarita, a professor at Georgetown University, it is a scholarly work. It doesn’t read like a novel, but the thoroughness brings out the character of the people and their contributions to Italian and world culture. I praise the author for bringing this important topic out of obscurity to world attention.

By Tommaso Astarita,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Between Salt Water and Holy Water as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The history of southern Italy is entirely distinct from that of northern Italy, yet it has never been given its own due. In this authoritative and wholly engrossing history, distinguished scholar Tommaso Astarita "does a masterful job of correcting this error" (Mark Knoblauch, Booklist). From the Normans and Angevins, through Spanish and Bourbon rule, to the unification of Italy in 1860, Astarita rescues Sicily and the worlds south of Rome from the dustier folds of history and restores them to sparkling life. We are introduced to the colorful religious observances, the vibrant historical figures, the diverse population, the ancient ruins,…


Book cover of The Chinese in America: A Narrative History

Michael A. DeMarco Author Of Wuxia America: The Timely Emergence of a Chinese American Hero

From my list on uniquely fantastic, yet possible heroic skills.

Why am I passionate about this?

Life is pretty dull without passion. Since early childhood I was attracted to Chinese philosophy, then to all the cultural aspects that reflect it. At the same time, I felt the blood in my veins drawing me to ancestral roots. Learning about other cultures helps us learn about our own. I’ve been driven by sympathy for the immigrant experience, the suffering, and sacrifices made for a better, peaceful life. What prepared me to write Wuxia America includes my academic studies, living and working in Asia, and involvement in martial arts. My inspiration for writing stems from a wish to encourage ways to improve human relations.

Michael's book list on uniquely fantastic, yet possible heroic skills

Michael A. DeMarco Why did Michael love this book?

The life and writings of Iris Chang portray a woman with a passion for learning about her cultural heritage. Like a soldier, she gave her life in the pursuit.

The Chinese in America brings into focus just how it was for early Chinese immigrants to live in this land and their place in America today. The book not only sheds light on the Chinese American experience, but indirectly on all immigrant groups as well.

I value Chang’s encompassing work enlightening for understanding Chinese Americans as much as for understanding my own heritage.

By Iris Chang,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A quintessiantially American story chronicling Chinese American achievement in the face of institutionalized racism by the New York Times bestselling author of The Rape of Nanking

In an epic story that spans 150 years and continues to the present day, Iris Chang tells of a people’s search for a better life—the determination of the Chinese to forge an identity and a destiny in a strange land and, often against great obstacles, to find success. She chronicles the many accomplishments in America of Chinese immigrants and their descendents: building the infrastructure of their adopted country, fighting racist and exclusionary laws and…


Book cover of History of the Kingdom of Naples

Michael A. DeMarco Author Of Wuxia America: The Timely Emergence of a Chinese American Hero

From my list on uniquely fantastic, yet possible heroic skills.

Why am I passionate about this?

Life is pretty dull without passion. Since early childhood I was attracted to Chinese philosophy, then to all the cultural aspects that reflect it. At the same time, I felt the blood in my veins drawing me to ancestral roots. Learning about other cultures helps us learn about our own. I’ve been driven by sympathy for the immigrant experience, the suffering, and sacrifices made for a better, peaceful life. What prepared me to write Wuxia America includes my academic studies, living and working in Asia, and involvement in martial arts. My inspiration for writing stems from a wish to encourage ways to improve human relations.

Michael's book list on uniquely fantastic, yet possible heroic skills

Michael A. DeMarco Why did Michael love this book?

Benedetto Croce was an Italian historian, politician, and, above all, a philosopher.

I read his book on the History of the Kingdom of Naples to better understand south Italy. It is evident that he made great effort to gather his references and his presentation is well-organized and very scholarly. What made the book a pleasure to read, and brought great admiration for Croce, is how he writes history with a human focus.

While other historians often write by covering the grand elements such as battles, social changes and economic development, Croce looks at all these aspects as products of human character and their ethical and moral principles. Reading this book was an important turning point for me, especially as a writer.

In the end, writers are influencers of culture and in large part responsible for cultivating human character. 

By Benedetto Croce,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked History of the Kingdom of Naples as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

RED CLOTHBOUND HARDCOVER- PUBLISHED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS-1970-THIS TRANSLATION BASED ON THE 6TH EDITION-1965-WRITTEN BY BENEDETTO CROCE


Book cover of Manchus and Han: Ethnic Relations and Political Power in Late Qing and Early Republican China, 1861-1928

Peter Zarrow Author Of After Empire: The Conceptual Transformation of the Chinese State, 1885-1924

From my list on how imperial China became modern China.

Why am I passionate about this?

Like many Americans of my generation (boomer) who became China scholars, I witnessed the civil rights and anti-war struggles and concluded that we in the West could learn from the insights of Eastern thought and even Chinese Communism. I ended up specializing in modern political thought—I think of this field as the land of “isms”—nationalism, socialism, liberalism, and the like. I have lived in China and Japan, and spent twelve years as a historical researcher in Taiwan before returning to America to teach at the University of Connecticut. Today, I would not say China has the answers, but I still believe that the two most important world powers have a lot to learn from each other.

Peter's book list on how imperial China became modern China

Peter Zarrow Why did Peter love this book?

I have long thought that one of the key ingredients of modern Chinese nationalism is a strong sense of ethnic identity for the people labeled “Han Chinese.” To a great extent this Han identity, though having ancient roots, was formed, elaborated, and ideologized around the turn of the twentieth century in opposition to the ruling Manchu Qing dynasty. This book shows how and why this happened.

By Edward J. M. Rhoads,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Open-access edition: DOI 10.6069/9780295997483

China's 1911-12 Revolution, which overthrew a 2000-year succession of dynasties, is thought of primarily as a change in governmental style, from imperial to republican, traditional to modern. But given that the dynasty that was overthrown-the Qing-was that of a minority ethnic group that had ruled China's Han majority for nearly three centuries, and that the revolutionaries were overwhelmingly Han, to what extent was the revolution not only anti-monarchical, but also anti-Manchu?

Edward Rhoads explores this provocative and complicated question in Manchus and Han, analyzing the evolution of the Manchus from a hereditary military caste (the "banner…


Book cover of The White Lotus War: Rebellion and Suppression in Late Imperial China

David G. Atwill Author Of Sources in Chinese History: Diverse Perspectives from 1644 to the Present

From my list on 19th-century China’s rebellions, uprisings, and wars.

Why am I passionate about this?

Just after graduating from college in 1989, I spent the year teaching in the city of Kunming – a “small” city of several million in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan. In some ways, I have never left. My year there set me on a life-long trajectory of exploring some of China’s most remote corners from Tibet to Beijing. Intrigued by the way China’s borderlands reflected China’s diverse ethnic, religious, and cultural traditions, I eventually wrote my first book The Chinese Sultanate on the Panthay Rebellion (1856-1872). Today I teach at Penn State University seeking to share my experiences in China (and the world) with my students in the university classroom.

David's book list on 19th-century China’s rebellions, uprisings, and wars

David G. Atwill Why did David love this book?

Few include the White Lotus War in their discussion of nineteenth-century rebellions. Yet, in many ways, it provides the perfect starting point. Lasting over eight years, plowing a path of destruction across five central Chinese provinces, and emphatically marking the end to nearly a century of peace and commercial prosperity, the White Lotus War is an ominous harbinger of what was to follow. Chinese historian Yingcong Dai highlights the many disparate factors – from bureaucratic negligence and administrative apathy to the rise of secret societies and charismatic religious leaders – that transformed otherwise weakly connected local protests into a massive revolt that threatened to upend the Qing imperial state (1644-1911). As a specialist on Chinese warfare and imperial governance, the author pulls back the curtain on a rarely told tale that brings turn-of-the-18th-century China to life.

By Yingcong Dai,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The White Lotus War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The White Lotus War (1796-1804) in central China marked the end of the Qing dynasty's golden age and the fatal weakening of the imperial system itself. What started as a local rebellion grew into a serious political crisis, as the central government was no longer able to operate its military machine.

Yingcong Dai's comprehensive investigation reveals that the White Lotus rebels would have remained a relatively minor threat, if not for the Qing's ill-managed response. Dai shows that the officials in charge of the suppression campaign were half-hearted about the fight and took advantage of the campaign to pursue personal…


Book cover of Modern Chinese Warfare, 1795-1989

S.C.M. Paine Author Of The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895: Perceptions, Power, and Primacy

From my list on the origin of the Asian balance of power.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up during the Cold War, I wondered how the United States and the Soviet Union became locked into an existential struggle that threatened to vaporize the planet. So, I studied Russian, Chinese, and Japanese (along with French, Spanish, and German) to learn more. At issue was the global order and the outcome of this struggle depended on the balance of power—not only military power that consumed Soviet attention but also economic power and standards of living that Western voters emphasized. Yet it was Japan that had the workable development model as proven by the Four Asian Tigers (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan) during the 1960s to 1990s.

S.C.M.'s book list on the origin of the Asian balance of power

S.C.M. Paine Why did S.C.M. love this book?

Outsiders do not grasp the frequency let alone the magnitude of the civil and foreign wars that ravaged China well into the Maoist era. Sometimes China was the aggressor and sometimes the victim and, in its many civil wars, the Chinese government was always brutal. Concise chapters describe each conflict.

By Bruce A. Elleman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Modern Chinese Warfare, 1795-1989 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why did the Chinese empire collapse and why did it take so long for a new government to reunite China? Modern Chinese Warfare, 1795-1989 seeks to answer these questions by exploring the most important domestic and international conflicts over the past two hundred years, from the last half of the Qing empire through to modern day China. It reveals how most of China's wars during this period were fought to preserve unity in China, and examines their distinctly cyclical pattern of imperial decline, domestic chaos and finally the creation of a new unifying dynasty.
By 1989 this cycle appeared complete,…


Book cover of The Culture of War in China: Empire and the Military under the Qing Dynasty

Peter A. Lorge Author Of The Reunification of China: Peace through War under the Song Dynasty

From my list on Chinese military history.

Why am I passionate about this?

My interest in Chinese military history stems from an early interest in books on strategy like Sun Tzu’s Art of War, and in East Asian martial arts. I have pursued both since high school, translating Sun Tzu as a senior thesis in college (and now returning to it professionally), and practicing a number of martial arts over the last forty years (and writing a book on the history of Chinese martial arts). Although there are plentiful historical records for all aspects of Chinese military history, the field remains relatively neglected, leaving it wide open for new studies. I continue to pursue my teenage interests, writing the books I wanted to read in high school.

Peter's book list on Chinese military history

Peter A. Lorge Why did Peter love this book?

This is a series of six essays that present a “new Qing history” approach to 17th and 18th century Chinese military history, specifically the culture involved in the military campaigns from 1636 to 1799.  Waley-Cohen not only presents a more positive view of the Qing’s Manchu rulers, but also the centrality of military activities and culture to Chinese culture.  The Qing government enthusiastically promoted its martial accomplishments, and martial culture was in turn reflected in visual culture, religion, and popular culture.

By Joanna Waley-Cohen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Culture of War in China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Was the primary focus of the Qing dynasty really civil rather than military matters? In this ground-breaking book, Joanna Waley-Cohen overturns conventional wisdom to put warfare at the heart of seventeenth and eighteenth century China. She argues that the civil and the military were understood as mutually complementary forces. Emperors underpinned military expansion with a wide-ranging cultural campaign intended to bring military success, and the martial values associated with it, into the mainstream of cultural life. The Culture of War in China is a striking revisionist history that brings new insight into the roots of Chinese nationalism and the modern…


Book cover of The Cambridge History of China: Volume 10, Late Ch'ing 1800–1911, Part 1

S.C.M. Paine Author Of The Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895: Perceptions, Power, and Primacy

From my list on the origin of the Asian balance of power.

Why am I passionate about this?

Growing up during the Cold War, I wondered how the United States and the Soviet Union became locked into an existential struggle that threatened to vaporize the planet. So, I studied Russian, Chinese, and Japanese (along with French, Spanish, and German) to learn more. At issue was the global order and the outcome of this struggle depended on the balance of power—not only military power that consumed Soviet attention but also economic power and standards of living that Western voters emphasized. Yet it was Japan that had the workable development model as proven by the Four Asian Tigers (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan) during the 1960s to 1990s.

S.C.M.'s book list on the origin of the Asian balance of power

S.C.M. Paine Why did S.C.M. love this book?

The Qing dynasty is covered in both volumes 10 and 11 of this wonderful series. Volume 10 contains essays that earlier in my career I would always go back to—not for the riveting prose but for the solid information. John K. Fairbank (1907-1991), the father of U.S. Sinology and longtime professor at Harvard University, invited the finest Sinologists to contribute to these volumes. Pick and choose from among the excellent chapters including: Joseph Fletcher (Inner Asia and Sino-Russian relations), John K. Fairbank (the treaty port system), Philip A. Kuhn (the Taiping Rebellion) in volume 10; and Immanuel C. Y. Hsu (foreign relations), Marius Jansen (Japan and the 1911 Revolution) in volume 11. Beware that the two volumes are very much scholarly works—in both the positive and negative meanings of the word, scholarly.

By John K. Fairbank,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Cambridge History of China as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the first of two volumes in this major Cambridge history dealing with the decline of the Ch'ing empire. It opens with a survey of the Ch'ing empire in China and Inner Asia at its height, in about 1800. Contributors study the complex interplay of foreign invasion, domestic rebellion and Ch'ing decline and restoration. Special reference is made to the Peking administration, the Canton trade and the early treaty system, the Taiping, Nien and other rebellions, and the dynasty's survival in uneasy cooperation with the British, Russian, French, American and other invaders. Each chapter is written by a specialist…


Book cover of China's Last Empire: The Great Qing

Henrietta Harrison Author Of The Perils of Interpreting: The Extraordinary Lives of Two Translators between Qing China and the British Empire

From my list on Qing Dynasty China from an Oxford historian.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a historian of modern China in the department of Chinese at the University of Oxford. I started off working on the twentieth century but have been drawn back into the Qing dynasty. It’s such an interesting and important period and one that British students often don’t know much about! 

Henrietta's book list on Qing Dynasty China from an Oxford historian

Henrietta Harrison Why did Henrietta love this book?

I think this is the best up-to-date history of the Qing dynasty. I use it for teaching because it’s completely reliable, covers everything you might need to know, and lays it all out clearly.

It also has a really good balance between the history of major events like the Opium Wars and the Taiping Rebellion and the social history and context. And I like the fact that it explains the big debates that scholars are having in clear and simple terms.

By William T. Rowe, Timothy Brook (editor),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In a brisk revisionist history, William Rowe challenges the standard narrative of Qing China as a decadent, inward-looking state that failed to keep pace with the modern West. The Great Qing was the second major Chinese empire ruled by foreigners. Three strong Manchu emperors worked diligently to secure an alliance with the conquered Ming gentry, though many of their social edicts - especially the requirement that ethnic Han men wear queues - were fiercely resisted. As advocates of a 'universal' empire, Qing rulers also achieved an enormous expansion of the Chinese realm over the course of three centuries, including the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in China, the Qing dynasty, and the Ming dynasty?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about China, the Qing dynasty, and the Ming dynasty.

China Explore 583 books about China
The Qing Dynasty Explore 28 books about the Qing dynasty
The Ming Dynasty Explore 18 books about the Ming dynasty