100 books like The Death of Woman Wang

By Jonathan D. Spence,

Here are 100 books that The Death of Woman Wang fans have personally recommended if you like The Death of Woman Wang. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World

Geoffrey Parker Author Of Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century

From my list on the 17th Century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I teach history at The Ohio State University. This project began when I listened in 1976 to a radio broadcast in which Jack Eddy, a solar physicist, speculated that a notable absence of sunspots in the period 1645-1715 contributed to the “Little Ice Age”: the longest and most severe episode of global cooling recorded in the last 12,000 years. The Little Ice Age coincided with a wave of wars and revolution around the Northern Hemisphere, from the overthrow of the Ming dynasty in China to the beheading of Charles I in England. I spent the next 35 years exploring how the connections between natural and human events created a fatal synergy that produced human mortality on a scale seldom seen before – and never since.

Geoffrey's book list on the 17th Century

Geoffrey Parker Why did Geoffrey love this book?

Brook uses artifacts portrayed in six paintings by the Dutch Golden Age painter Johannes Vermeer to show how, several centuries before the World Wide Web, the local and the global were intimately connected. He surprises his readers by showing that people and goods and ideas moved around the 17th-century world in ways that – rather like us – their ancestors would have considered impossible. Perhaps because Brook is a Canadian historian of China who is familiar with Europe, he provides a truly global history and almost every page contains a “gee whiz” fact. I also love the idea that “Every picture tells a story.”

By Timothy Brook,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the epicentre of Delft in the Netherlands Brook takes the paintings of Johannes Vermeer and uses details of them as a series of entry points to the widest circles of world trade and cultural exchange in the seventeenth century. An officer's beaver hat in 'Officer and the Laughing Girl' opens up the story of Champlain's dealing with the native peoples of Canada and the beaver trade. A china dish on a table in another painting uncovers the story of the Chinese porcelain trade. Moving outwards from Vermeer's studio Brook traces the web of trade that was spreading across the…


Book cover of The English Atlantic in an Age of Revolution, 1640-1661

Geoffrey Parker Author Of Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century

From my list on the 17th Century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I teach history at The Ohio State University. This project began when I listened in 1976 to a radio broadcast in which Jack Eddy, a solar physicist, speculated that a notable absence of sunspots in the period 1645-1715 contributed to the “Little Ice Age”: the longest and most severe episode of global cooling recorded in the last 12,000 years. The Little Ice Age coincided with a wave of wars and revolution around the Northern Hemisphere, from the overthrow of the Ming dynasty in China to the beheading of Charles I in England. I spent the next 35 years exploring how the connections between natural and human events created a fatal synergy that produced human mortality on a scale seldom seen before – and never since.

Geoffrey's book list on the 17th Century

Geoffrey Parker Why did Geoffrey love this book?

Between 1640 and 1660, England, Scotland, and Ireland experienced civil war, invasion, religious radicalism, parliamentary rule, and the restoration of the monarchy. None of that will surprise historians of Britain, but they may not realize the impact of these events on Britain’s new colonies across the Atlantic. Some of them remained loyal to the king until his victorious opponents sent the first major Transatlantic expeditionary force to subdue them. 

Pestana shows how war and rebellion in Britain increased both the proportion of unfree labourers and ethnic diversity in the colonies. Neglected by London, several of them developed trade networks; some entered the slave trade. By 1660, the English Atlantic had become religiously polarized, economically interconnected, socially exploitative, and ideologically unstable.

By Carla Gardina Pestana,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The English Atlantic in an Age of Revolution, 1640-1661 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Between 1640 and 1660, England, Scotland, and Ireland faced civil war, invasion, religious radicalism, parliamentary rule, and the restoration of the monarchy. Carla Gardina Pestana offers a sweeping history that systematically connects these cataclysmic events and the development of the infant plantations from Newfoundland to Surinam.

By 1660, the English Atlantic emerged as religiously polarized, economically interconnected, socially exploitative, and ideologically anxious about its liberties. War increased both the proportion of unfree laborers and ethnic diversity in the settlements. Neglected by London, the colonies quickly developed trade networks, especially from seafaring New England, and entered the slave trade. Barbadian planters…


Book cover of The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age

Geoffrey Parker Author Of Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century

From my list on the 17th Century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I teach history at The Ohio State University. This project began when I listened in 1976 to a radio broadcast in which Jack Eddy, a solar physicist, speculated that a notable absence of sunspots in the period 1645-1715 contributed to the “Little Ice Age”: the longest and most severe episode of global cooling recorded in the last 12,000 years. The Little Ice Age coincided with a wave of wars and revolution around the Northern Hemisphere, from the overthrow of the Ming dynasty in China to the beheading of Charles I in England. I spent the next 35 years exploring how the connections between natural and human events created a fatal synergy that produced human mortality on a scale seldom seen before – and never since.

Geoffrey's book list on the 17th Century

Geoffrey Parker Why did Geoffrey love this book?

I first met Simon Schama in 1963, when he joined me as an undergraduate reading History at Christ’s College Cambridge. Both of us decided to undertake research on the Low Countries, but in an international context: in my case, Spain and the Netherlands between 1550 and 1650; in Simon’s case, France and the Netherlands between 1770 and 1815, leading to his brilliant first book, Patriots and Liberators (a study of what the expansion of Revolutionary France meant for an occupied country.) This led him to analyse the social and cultural history of the country before occupation, using visual as well as written sources to recreate the mental state of a complex society. The embarrassment of Riches tells of bloody uprisings and beached whales, of the cult of hygiene and the plague of tobacco, of thrifty housewives and profligate tulip-speculators. It shows how the Dutch celebrated themselves and how they were…

By Simon Schama,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the book that made Simon Schama's reputation when first published in 1987. A historical masterpiece, it is an epic account of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age of Rembrandt and van Diemen.

In this brilliant work that moves far beyond the conventions of social or cultural history, Simon Schama investigates the astonishing case of a people's self-invention.

He shows how, in the 17th-century, a modest assortment of farming, fishing and shipping communities, without a shared language, religion or government, transformed themselves into a formidable world empire - the Dutch republic.


Book cover of The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner

Geoffrey Parker Author Of Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century

From my list on the 17th Century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I teach history at The Ohio State University. This project began when I listened in 1976 to a radio broadcast in which Jack Eddy, a solar physicist, speculated that a notable absence of sunspots in the period 1645-1715 contributed to the “Little Ice Age”: the longest and most severe episode of global cooling recorded in the last 12,000 years. The Little Ice Age coincided with a wave of wars and revolution around the Northern Hemisphere, from the overthrow of the Ming dynasty in China to the beheading of Charles I in England. I spent the next 35 years exploring how the connections between natural and human events created a fatal synergy that produced human mortality on a scale seldom seen before – and never since.

Geoffrey's book list on the 17th Century

Geoffrey Parker Why did Geoffrey love this book?

Good historical novels concentrate on gaps in the historical record, and use fiction to fill them – and in doing so, they illuminate the facts. Robinson Crusoe, the first historical novel in English (some claim the first English novel), used the story of a fictional sailor who left home in 1651 and returned in 1687 to show how the mental world in which his character grew up, riven by confessional conflict and civil war, differed from the mental world of his readers, in which colonies and capitalism had combined to produce great wealth. 

Among more recent works of fiction set in the 17th century, I particularly enjoyed Günther Grass, The meeting at Telgte (1981), set in Germany in 1647; and Iain Pears An instance of the fingerpost (1997), set in Oxford in 1663. Both include real historical figures.

By Daniel Defoe,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, Mariner as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a reproduction of a classic text optimised for kindle devices. We have endeavoured to create this version as close to the original artefact as possible. Although occasionally there may be certain imperfections with these old texts, we believe they deserve to be made available for future generations to enjoy.


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…


Book cover of The Talented Women of the Zhang Family

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 loved this book because the story of the Zhang family brings the history of the Qing dynasty alive as real women experienced it. Qing dynasty people can seem very different from us, and it’s often hard to get a sense of their characters, but Mann does this by taking us right into their homes and making this a story of the three women who were also writers, poets, and teachers.

We hear about their studies, their loves, and their families’ grief when they died, and just when we’ve really got to know them, we find that they were also living through and writing about some of the great events of the nineteenth century like the Opium Wars and the Taiping Rebellion. It’s also beautifully researched by a great scholar.

By Susan Mann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Talented Women of the Zhang Family as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The history of China in the nineteenth century usually features men as the dominant figures in a chronicle of warfare, rebellion, and dynastic decline. This book challenges that model and provides a different account of the era, history as seen through the eyes of women. Basing her remarkable study on the poetry and memoirs of three generations of literary women of the Zhang family - Tang Yaoqing, her eldest daughter, and her eldest granddaughter - Susan Mann illuminates a China that has been largely invisible. Drawing on a stunning array of primary materials - published poetry, gazetteer articles, memorabilia -…


Book cover of The World of a Tiny Insect: A Memoir of the Taiping Rebellion and Its Aftermath

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 loved this little book because, in just a short space, it takes you into what it was like to live through the Taiping Rebellion, one of the most important events in China’s nineteenth century, and it does it through the eyes of a child. It’s an amazing viewpoint, and the stories are dramatic.

The introduction, which explains all the background, and translation by Xiaofei Tian, who is a well-known poet in Chinese as well as a professor at Harvard, is also beautifully written.

By Zhang Daye, Xiaofei Tian (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The World of a Tiny Insect as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"From the cry of a tiny insect, one can hear the sound of a vast world..." So begins Zhang Daye's preface to The World of a Tiny Insect, his haunting memoir of war and its aftermath. In 1861, when China's devastating Taiping rebellion began, Zhang was seven years old. The Taiping rebel army occupied Shaoxing, his hometown, and for the next two years, he hid from Taiping soldiers, local bandits, and imperial troops and witnessed gruesome scenes of violence and death. He lost friends and family and nearly died himself from starvation, illness, and encounters with soldiers on a rampage.…


Book cover of Forging the Golden Urn: The Qing Empire and the Politics of Reincarnation in Tibet

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 loved this book because I learned so much new about the Qianlong emperor and his relations with Tibet, how the eighteenth-century Qing state went about actually influencing the appointment of the incarnate lamas (like the Dalai Lama) who ruled Tibet.

Of course, all this has huge implications for Tibet now, but unlike the other books on this list, which I’ve recommended because I found them useful or a pleasure to read, this one is here because it is an exciting new scholarship.  

By Max Oidtmann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Forging the Golden Urn as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1995, the People's Republic of China resurrected a Qing-era law mandating that the reincarnations of prominent Tibetan Buddhist monks be identified by drawing lots from a golden urn. The Chinese Communist Party hoped to limit the ability of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile to independently identify reincarnations. In so doing, they elevated a long-forgotten ceremony into a controversial symbol of Chinese sovereignty in Tibet.

In Forging the Golden Urn, Max Oidtmann ventures into the polyglot world of the Qing empire in search of the origins of the golden urn tradition. He seeks to understand the relationship between…


Book cover of Four Sisters of Hofei: A History

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?

Fiction and biography are a good way of walking in someone else’s shoes. Although this biography isn’t a gripping read, I’d recommend it for anyone interested in depth about Chinese culture and society and how it changed over one hundred years. It follows the lives of well-educated sisters from a prosperous background not just in Beijing and Shanghai but in a diversity of provinces too.

By Ann Ping Chin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Four Sisters of Hofei as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The true story of four sisters born between 1907 and 1914 in China, Four Sisters of Hofei is an intimate encounter with history. The Chang sisters lived through a period of astounding change and into the twenty-first century. Unusual opportunities and an extraordinary family education launched them into varied worlds -- those of the theater, modern literature, classical studies, and calligraphy -- but their collective experience offers a cohesive portrait of a land in transition.
With the benefit of letters, diaries, poetry, and interviews, writer and historian Annping Chin shapes the Chang sisters' stories into a composite history steeped in…


Book cover of Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China

Sheridan Prasso Author Of The Asian Mystique: Dragon Ladies, Geisha Girls, & Our Fantasies of the Exotic Orient

From my list on Asian women.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have specialized in writing about Asia since first moving to Hong Kong as a journalist in 1989, and spent the past three decades trying to improve understandings between East and West. My Asian women friends repeatedly asked me why Western men expected them to pour their drinks and serve them food. I answered “because that’s what they saw in the movies.” The James Bond films perpetuating these images of servile Asian women scrubbing white mens’ backs in the bathtub were pervasive when they were growing up. I decided to uncover and explain where this history of imagery and the stereotypes they result in come from – and, as someone with an anthropological background, also explain cultural practices that foster misunderstandings. 

Sheridan's book list on Asian women

Sheridan Prasso Why did Sheridan love this book?

This book by the leading expert on China’s feminist movement speaks to the modern-day realities of women in China – where the promise of the Communist revolution to deliver gender equality has been betrayed. Today’s women in China have experienced a dramatic rollback of the rights and gains they achieved early on. The structural discrimination against women in all sectors, from politics to business to relationships, is not easily overturned.


By Leta Hong Fincher,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Scattered with inspiring life-stories of courageous women.'
The Guardian

In the early years of the People's Republic, the Communist Party sought to transform gender relations. Yet those gains have been steadily eroded in China's post-socialist era.

Contrary to the image presented by China's media, women in China have experienced a dramatic rollback of rights and gains relative to men.

In Leftover Women, Leta Hong Fincher exposes shocking levels of structural discrimination against women, and the broader damage this has caused to China's economy, politics, and development.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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