Fall and Rise of China

Course No. 8370
Professor Richard Baum, Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles
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Course No. 8370
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Course Overview

China—the world's oldest continuous civilization—has undergone an astonishing transformation in a brief span of recent history. Since the collapse of its once-glorious empire in 1911, China has seen decades of epic turmoil and upheavals, emerging in the new century as both an authoritarian megastate and an economic powerhouse, poised to become an imposing global force.

By current estimates, the People's Republic is set to outpace the United States economically in the coming decades and to rival or surpass it militarily, making China the richest, most powerful nation on earth.

How did this happen? How can we account for China's momentous—and almost wholly unanticipated—global rise? And what does it mean, for us in the West and for humanity's future?

Speaking to these vital and fascinating questions, The Fall and Rise of China, taught by China expert and Professor Richard Baum of the University of California, Los Angeles, brings to vivid life the human struggles, the titanic political upheavals, and the spectacular speed of China's modern rebirth. Offering multilevel insight into one of the most astounding real-life dramas of modern history, The Fall and Rise of China weaves together the richly diverse developments and sociopolitical currents that created the China we now see in the headlines.

As we enter what some are already calling the "Chinese century," the role of China is deeply fundamental to our reading of the direction of world civilization and history. In 48 penetrating lectures, The Fall and Rise of China takes you to the heart of the events behind China's new global presence, leaving you with a clear view of both the story itself and its critical implications for our world.

Redefining a Colossus

The timeliness of Professor Baum's revealing commentary would be hard to exaggerate.

China's impact on U.S. domestic issues, such as job outsourcing and energy acquisition, as well as a massive U.S. foreign debt to China and inevitable military power sharing, bind America's future to the People's Republic in ways that are becoming compellingly apparent.

As China's policies increasingly impact the world community in economic, military, and environmental terms, these lectures provide crucial understanding of the most important new force in today's world.

The Fall and Rise of China also sheds a bright light on the history of the Socialist experiment and the present business environment of China, and deepens your understanding of world civilization through an in-depth look at a culture profoundly different from your own.

A Story to Challenge the Imagination

In Professor Baum's words, China's modern history unfolds as a story of awe-inspiring dimensions—a chronicle of the largest revolution in the history of the world, of monumental excesses and abuses of power, of unimaginable hardship for millions, of the effort to reinvent a vast and unwieldy socioeconomic system, and of the often deadly clash between ideology and human realities.

The course gives you a detailed understanding of all the core events in China's century of stunning change, including these major happenings:

  • Collapse of the Qing dynasty: You study the interlacing social, political, and economic factors that led to the fall of China's 2,000-year empire and the implacable call for new political paradigms.
  • The Republican era and civil wars: In the wake of the defunct empire, you witness the drama of the short-lived Chinese Republic, followed by political chaos and the long strategic battle between Republican forces and the seemingly unstoppable Communist Party.
  • The "Great Leap Forward": In a landmark episode of the Mao era, the regime's grand-scale projects to communize agriculture and galvanize industry saw bureaucratic mismanagement leading to tragedy for tens of millions of Chinese.
  • The Cultural Revolution: During this bitter era of the 1960s, festering tensions between the Maoist regime and its critics erupted in a brutal campaign of terror and repression against perceived enemies of Socialism.
  • China's post-Mao economic "miracle": In the later lectures you track the specific reforms and ideological shifts that opened China to global economic engagement and forged its new role as a free-market dynamo.

As your guide to these history-shaping events, Professor Baum takes you far beyond the realm of academic theorizing. Describing his subject as an "adventure story," he reveals a 40-year personal interface with China, more than 30 visits to the People's Republic, and an intimate witnessing of the struggles, crises, and victories of the Chinese people.

A storyteller of extraordinary flair, he takes you onto the Beijing streets, into Shanghai industrial plants, and into the thick of highly charged protests and his own vivid encounters with numerous Chinese, recounting key elements of the story as he saw them unfold.

The Human Face of Change

China's remaking is peopled by some of the 20th century's most colorful and impactful human beings. Your investigation of key figures in the story includes these fascinating personalities:

  • Cixi, the Empress Dowager: A former concubine and an iron-willed manipulator, she rose to command the Manchu Empire in its death throes, speeding its disintegration through her own calculated opposition to reform.
  • Dr. Sun Yat-sen: A uniquely pivotal revolutionary figure, Sun played key roles in the overthrow of the Qing dynasty, the creation of the Chinese Republic, and the founding of the Chinese Nationalist Party, the Guomindang, still a force on Taiwan.
  • Chiang K'ai-shek: Dynamic but ultimately inept military leader of the Republican forces, he waged a long, unsuccessful battle against the Communists, finally leading his defeated forces to found a regime in exile—the Republic of China on Taiwan.
  • Mao Zedong: China's larger-than-life revolutionary icon. Enigmatic, brilliant, and ruthless, he led the Communist forces through the long civil wars and presided as a near dictator over the new Socialist state through a quarter-century of trials and tragedies.
  • Deng Xiaoping: Mao's ultimate successor and a master strategist, he initiated, then fought mightily to preserve the reforms that propelled China to the forefront of global economic power.

Throughout the lectures, Professor Baum reveals highly unusual details that enrich the cinematic sweep of the story. You learn about the Christian warlord who baptized his troops with a fire hose, the strange kidnapping of Chiang K'ai-shek, the politically explosive forgery carried out by Mao's wife, and Professor Baum's own smuggling of top-secret documents out of Taiwan.

The Genesis of Chaos and Revolution

As a core strength of the lectures, Professor Baum makes sense of the dramatic events of the story by getting deeply at what underlay them, culturally, socially, and historically—leaving you with a nuanced knowledge of the forces moving China's modern emergence.

In the spiraling descent of the Qing dynasty you trace the imperial culture of complacent superiority and indifference to global events that undermined the empire's hold on power.

Following the empire's demise, you probe the competing ideologies that fed two revolutionary movements, and you study Mao's tactics of "people's war" and civil-military relations that gained vast support for the Communist cause.

In the course's central focus, you study the making of Communist China under Mao and its dramatic turn toward free-market economics.

You witness the consolidation of power by the Maoist regime in the long campaign to suppress counterrevolutionaries and the programs of "thought reform," in which independent thinkers were compelled to write lengthy public "confessions."

You study the far-reaching challenges of the transition to Socialism, including the "free rider" problem, where lack of work incentives in collective farming stunted economic growth and bred widespread alienation.

You chart Mao's utopian drive to achieve "pure" Communism in the Great Leap Forward, and the ways in which this mandate blinded the regime to the desperate realities faced by China's rural masses.

And you see how obliquely expressed currents of dissent and the regime's perception of "revisionist" thinking led to the disasters of the Cultural Revolution.

You also dig deeply into the history of Mao's strained relations with the Soviets, and the cold war moves and countermoves underlying his historic meeting with Nixon and the "normalizing" of relations with the United States.

A Nation Transfigured

In the course's gripping final section, you observe the profound economic shifts of recent decades that produced China's phenomenal rise.

Here you come to grips with exactly how they did it, including the strategic introduction of new incentive structures in industry and agriculture; multifront economic competition; and "Special Economic Zones," sparking export trade and huge foreign investment.

You explore this era's many critical reversals, such as the cultural "burying" of Chairman Mao, the airing of long-suppressed wounds from the Cultural Revolution, the ideological embrace of free-market economics, and the new culture of individual enrichment.

You also reflect on the contrast between the regime's path-breaking economic changes and its stern political inflexibility, a tension you witness in the tragic events at Tiananmen Square.

Finally, you contemplate China's current trajectory as it follows the journey of the Chinese to a new national identity, seemingly returning their nation to a global supremacy it held for much of the last 2,000 years.

Bringing alive the passionate reinvention of China with deep discernment and humanity, Professor Baum portrays the confounding, majestic, heart-rending, and visionary story of a modern giant.

Take this opportunity, in The Fall and Rise of China, to know and comprehend a world-changing development of our times and to understand our civilization as a new and vibrant force shapes it.

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48 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    The Splendor That Was China, 600–1700
    This lecture sets the stage for the saga of modern China. Uncover the underpinnings of the empire's extraordinary longevity, including its ingenious civil service system, its Confucian moral code, and its sophisticated military base. x
  • 2
    Malthus and Manchu Hubris, 1730–1800
    Complex social and economic forces ended China's millennium of supremacy as an empire. Learn about the empire's era of global exploration, followed by long, complacent isolationism. Then chart the economic strain of the 18th-century population explosion and the effects of European economic expansion and the opium trade. x
  • 3
    Barbarians at the Gate, 1800–1860
    The escalating British trade in opium sparked conflicts that crippled the Manchu dynasty. Track the Court's efforts to suppress widespread addiction, leading to the First Opium War and the humiliating Treaty of Nanking. Also, follow increasing foreign encroachments and violent reprisals, forcing a Second Opium War and the opening of multiple ports to Western commerce. x
  • 4
    Rural Misery and Rebellion, 1842–1860
    Nineteenth-century China also saw a prolonged agrarian crisis that spurred major peasant revolts, weakening the empire from within. Examine the explosive Taiping Rebellion, a decade-long, religiously themed struggle that threatened to unseat the empire. x
  • 5
    The Self-Strengthening Movement, 1860–1890
    Facing external and internal pressures, China's faltering empire attempted fundamental reforms. Investigate the Manchus' multifaceted effort to absorb Western science and technology while preserving Confucian institutions. Learn also about the internal sabotage of reform and the other factors in its ultimate failure, as Japan effectively wins the race to modernize. x
  • 6
    Hundred Days of Reform and the Boxer Uprising
    The 19th century closed with further measures of reform within the empire and violent conflict with foreigners on Chinese soil. Study the progressive thinkers who influenced the young emperor Guangxu in his 100 Days of Reform. Then follow the siege of foreign legations by the fanatical Boxers and its bloody aftermath. x
  • 7
    The End of Empire, 1900–1911
    Witness the death spasms of the Manchu dynasty and the tumultuous events leading to the Chinese Republican Revolution of 1911. Afterward, track the rise of the revolutionary Sun Yat-sen, the military commander Yuan Shikai, and the establishment of the Provisional Republic of China. x
  • 8
    The Failed Republic, 1912–1919
    China's short-lived republic fell to corrupt power plays and maneuvering to restore the dynasty. Trace the country's descent into political chaos and rule by warlords, and ensuing encroachments by Japan. In addition, follow events leading to the birth of modern Chinese Nationalism. x
  • 9
    The Birth of Chinese Communism, 1917–1925
    Probe the emerging ideologies that fueled two revolutionary movements—Nationalism and Communism. Also, consider the importation of Lenin's theory of imperialism into China and the covert efforts of Soviet agents to forge a "united front" between Sun Yat-sen's Nationalists and the newborn Chinese Communist Party. x
  • 10
    Chiang, Mao, and Civil War, 1926–1934
    Explore the state of China after the death of Sun Yat-sen. Follow Chiang K'ai-shek's unified national revolutionary army as it wages a brutal campaign against the Communists. From the ashes of defeat, the Communists are reborn in the countryside under the leadership of Mao Zedong. x
  • 11
    The Republican Experiment, 1927–1937
    Over the following decade, escalating Japanese encroachments on China coincide with mounting violence between China's revolutionary factions. Examine the rise of Japanese militarism and the 1931 invasion of Manchuria. Later, follow Chiang K'ai-shek's attempts to liquidate the Maoist Communists and his dramatic kidnapping. x
  • 12
    "Resist Japan!" 1937–1945
    In the fireball of World War II, witness the brutal Japanese offensives in China and their grim consequences for the Nationalists, while paradoxically sparing the Communists from annihilation. Learn also about growing U.S. ambivalence toward Chiang K'ai-shek and how Japanese brutality actually aided the Communists' seizure of power. x
  • 13
    Chiang's Last Stand, 1945–1949
    Study the final confrontations between Nationalist and Communist forces. Track the Nationalists' effort to dominate urban centers and the Communists' guerrilla methodology, their success in mobilizing the rural Chinese, and their strategic moves to victory. x
  • 14
    "The Chinese People Have Stood Up!"
    Explore features of Mao's new regime and its program to rebuild China's shattered economy. Also, learn about the Communist Party's delineation of "enemies of the people," its policies of ideological "thought reform," and its national campaigns of land reform. x
  • 15
    Korea, Taiwan, and the Cold War, 1950–1954
    Investigate critical strategic and military actions of the Maoist regime in the early 1950s. Uncover the factors behind Mao's alignment with the Soviets and his uneasy relationship with Stalin. Then, probe the events of the Korean War, the repercussions of China's military intervention, and the tactical conflict over Taiwan. x
  • 16
    Socialist Transformation, 1953–1957
    In 1953 the Maoist government undertook the full transition to Socialism. Examine key features of Mao's economic program, focusing on the process of agricultural collectivization—the hurried implementation of which violated core party policies and created widespread resentment in rural China. x
  • 17
    Cracks in the Monolith, 1957–1958
    By 1957, domestic and international conflicts disrupted Mao's Socialist vision. Trace his deepening differences with Moscow as Khrushchev rejects Stalinism. Examine Mao's proposed liberalization toward intellectuals, followed by a harsh crackdown on dissenters and party members, as Mao steers a leftist course, finally rejecting the Soviet model of Socialism. x
  • 18
    The Great Leap Forward, 1958–1960
    Mao's "Great Leap Forward" aimed to galvanize China's economic development. Review the major components of this initiative, including mass mobilization of rural workers in water works projects, backyard steel production, impersonal people's communes, and their final catastrophic failure through faulty engineering and massive bureaucratic errors. x
  • 19
    Demise of the Great Leap Forward, 1959–1962
    Systemic mismanagement of the Great Leap created horrific consequences. Uncover the circumstances of a deepening agricultural crisis and Mao's confrontations with the dissenting defense minister, Peng Dehuai, as the party's denial of reality leads to starvation for tens of millions. x
  • 20
    Never Forget Class Struggle! 1962–1965
    Core Great Leap policies were reversed under Mao's lieutenants Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. Follow growing hostility between Mao and Khrushchev, and bitter conflict between Liu and Deng's anticorruption campaign and Mao's offensive against class struggle and capitalist thinking, embodied in a new program of mass ideological indoctrination. x
  • 21
    "Long Live Chairman Mao!" 1964–1965
    Conflicting ideological currents set the stage for Mao's infamous Cultural Revolution. Examine efforts to enforce Mao's "cult of personality" through his "Little Red Book" of sayings and Maoist attacks on literary trends and the educational system. x
  • 22
    Mao's Last Revolution Begins, 1965–1966
    Chart Mao's unleashing of the Cultural Revolution. First, trace his orchestration of the downfall of Beijing's mayor and party propaganda chief in a strike against "counterrevolutionary revisionists." In the second stage, Mao foments radicalization and agitation among students, enlisting youth in retaliation against "bourgeois power holders." x
  • 23
    The Children's Crusade, 1966–1967
    As the Cultural Revolution escalates, witness Mao's shakeup of high-level politicians and the formation of student "Red Guard" units, which subject educators and party leaders across China to humiliation and extreme brutality. As Maoist "revolutionary rebels" attack commercial and industrial interests, China veers toward anarchy. x
  • 24
    The Storm Subsides, 1968–1969
    In the final stages of the Cultural Revolution, spiraling chaos leads to ritualized violence and deadly wars between rival rebel factions. Study Mao's measures to restore order, including the relocation of millions of youths to rural areas and the rebuilding of the party. x
  • 25
    The Sino-Soviet War of Nerves, 1964–1969
    Smoldering hostility between Beijing and Moscow foreshadowed a critical turning point in the cold war. Investigate Sino-Soviet competition for dominance within the Communist bloc, highlighting conflicts over Czechoslovakia and Vietnam, the resulting tense military standoff, and the emerging strategic role of the United States. x
  • 26
    Nixon, Kissinger, and China, 1969–1972
    Professor Baum portrays the momentous shift in Sino-American relations under the Nixon presidency. Track the factors influencing the mutual moves toward détente, the internal resistance on both sides, and the complex maneuvering that led to Nixon's historic visit to China. x
  • 27
    Mao's Deterioration and Death, 1971–1976
    In the 1970s, the Maoist era came to a close with the declining health of the Chairman. Focus on the dramatic surrounding events, including the demise of Lin Baio, Mao's designated successor; Mao's political "rehabilitation" of Deng Xiaoping; and the power mongering of radical leftists led by Jiang Qing, who wage political war against Deng and Premier Zhou Enlai. x
  • 28
    The Legacy of Mao Zedong—An Appraisal
    Professor Baum pauses to assess the complex and contradictory figure of Mao. First, he reflects on key events in Mao's early life and factors in his psychological makeup and youthful sensitivity. Then, he traces Mao's revolutionary embrace of violence and his legendary ruthlessness as they inform the strategic brilliance that drove his actions. x
  • 29
    The Post-Mao Interregnum, 1976–1977
    Following Mao's passing, a high drama of succession ensued. The lecture details the rise of Hua Guofeng, Mao's successor, and his clashes with Jiang Qing and the supporters of Deng. Professor Baum reflects on his own meeting with Hua and his experience as a "China watcher" in this tumultuous era. x
  • 30
    Hua Guofeng and the Four Modernizations
    Hua Goufeng's guiding mandate was the remaking of China's economy. Probe Hua's educational and cultural reforms, followed by massive industrial projects ending in grand-scale failure through flaws in design and planning. x
  • 31
    Deng Takes Command, 1978–1979
    Simmering political conflicts mandated a showdown between Hua and Deng. Follow Deng's strategic power moves and economic initiatives and their effects in marginalizing Hua. Then witness a historic shift as Deng's faction assails the Cultural Revolution and Mao's iconic status begins to crumble. x
  • 32
    The Historic Third Plenum, 1978
    Deng's assumption of power brought major new policies and unprecedented openness to debate. Study the poignant events of the Democracy Wall Movement, as Beijingers write wall posters voicing passionate political commentary. Tensions rise as posters indicting the system lead to activism for democratic reforms and human rights. x
  • 33
    The "Normalization" of U.S.-China Relations
    The 1970s saw dramatic progress in diplomatic engagement between Beijing and Washington. Analyze the converging factors that led to Deng's triumphal visit to the United States in 1979, including China's need to speed modernization and the U.S. choice to "play the China card" against the Soviet Union. x
  • 34
    Deng Consolidates His Power, 1979–1980
    Political setbacks and economic breakthroughs marked Deng's early regime. Investigate China's ill-fated military action against the Vietnamese Communists and groundbreaking domestic policy shifts, including the decollectivization of farming and the creation of Special Economic Zones for export trade. x
  • 35
    Socialist Democracy and the Rule of Law
    Trace a storm of conflicts concerning Cultural Revolution grievances and Deng's proposed legal and political reforms. Assess the regime's new criminal codes and responses to social discontent, as a period of liberalization and increasing popular activism ends in a crackdown on challenges to party authority. x
  • 36
    Burying Mao, 1981–1983
    Ideological rifts within Deng's ruling coalition flared in the early '80s over the official assessment of Mao's legacy. Learn about the expression of suffering under Mao in a new literary outpouring, and conservative opposition to liberalization in art and the "spiritual pollution" of consumerism and foreign influences in Chinese culture. x
  • 37
    "To Get Rich Is Glorious," 1982–1986
    Far-reaching market reforms gathered momentum in the early '80s. Chart China's changing economic landscape as self-employment and new management policies challenge the ingrained patterns of Socialist "command" economics. Also, see how the growth of foreign investment, imports, and tourism mark China's opening to the outside world. x
  • 38
    The Fault Lines of Reform, 1984–1987
    New societal stresses appeared in the wake of economic competition. Consider the effects of globalization, individual enrichment, and the widening income gap across China. Then observe the conservative backlash against reform and widespread student unrest. x
  • 39
    The Road to Tiananmen, 1987–1989
    Escalating social and political tensions led toward tragedy. Trace the split between moderates and hard-liners within the Communist Party and the political marginalization of progressive party Secretary-General Zhao Ziyang. Then see how enterprise failures, corruption, inflation, and unemployment fueled renewed student protests, ending in a defiant hunger strike in Tiananmen Square. x
  • 40
    The Empire Strikes Back, 1989
    Study the converging events of the deadly clash at Tiananmen Square as the regime imposes martial law, igniting massive demonstrations ending in the massacre of hundreds of civilian protesters. In the aftermath, witness the trauma to the Chinese national psyche, as reprisals against protesters and repressive surveillance deal a death blow to political idealism. x
  • 41
    After the Deluge, 1989–1992
    Following the events of Tiananmen Square, Deng's economic reforms came under concerted attack by party hard-liners. As you study Communist regimes toppling across Europe and party conservatives imposing an economic "austerity program," you trace Deng's strategic campaign to quell an ideological firestorm and save his hard-won "pro-market" policies for China. x
  • 42
    The "Roaring Nineties," 1992–1999
    In the 1990s, China's economic transformation surged forward. Explore the surrounding factors, including new enterprise autonomy, thriving stock markets and foreign investment, and concurrent corruption. Also note Premier Zhu Rongji's important achievements in restructuring state enterprises and leading China into the World Trade Organization. x
  • 43
    The Rise of Chinese Nationalism, 1993–2001
    China's burgeoning power reawakened both Chinese national pride and its converse: long-standing resentment of foreigners. Uncover these currents in the 1990s, fueled by American diplomatic errors, Sino-American conflict over Taiwan, and Western unease at China's global presence. x
  • 44
    China's Lost Territories—Taiwan, Hong Kong
    Examine the reunification of Hong Kong with China in 1997 and the new system granting domestic autonomy to Hong Kong under Chinese sovereignty. Then track Taiwan's transition to democracy, the turbulent movements for and against independence from China, and Beijing's ongoing strategic efforts to reclaim the island. x
  • 45
    China in the New Millennium, 2000–2008
    Analyze key elements in China's economic ascent, from sharp market growth and a new urban middle class to rampant official corruption and a vast "floating population" of migrant workers. Observe moves by the party to court the new business elite and focus resources on "have-nots," while retaining iron-handed political control. x
  • 46
    China's Information Revolution
    Assess the explosion of print media, the Internet, and cell phone use as they affect the regime's efforts to control the spread of information. Also, consider the role of nongovernmental organizations, "cybercops," and burgeoning grassroots "mass disturbances" in an escalating war between the forces of free communication and media censorship. x
  • 47
    "One World, One Dream"—The 2008 Olympics
    This lecture investigates international movements to boycott the Beijing games and the ways in which the games saw tightening governmental censorship and repression. Explore the mixture of stunning spectacle and behind-the-scenes maneuvering as the regime manages its image and tightens its political grip during China's national celebration. x
  • 48
    China's Rise—The Sleeping Giant Stirs
    Contemplate China's current and future presence in the global arena. Probe sensitive questions, including the future of Taiwan, trade controversies, and China's growing military power. Evaluate China's claim of a "peaceful rise" and possible indicators of future Sino-American cooperation and conflict. x

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Your professor

Richard Baum

About Your Professor

Richard Baum, Ph.D.
University of California, Los Angeles
Dr. Richard Baum was Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he specialized in the study of modern Chinese politics and foreign relations. He earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. Professor Baum lived and lectured extensively throughout China and Asia. He served as Visiting Professor or Visiting Scholar at...
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Fall and Rise of China is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 136.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Told a Great Tale of the History of China It taught me a great deal about China. I recommend it!
Date published: 2020-04-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great flow & enthusiasm! Well, this is a marvelous course! It is up to date! It is nicely organized, it shows the relevance of the history, and the enthusiasm is catching!!!
Date published: 2020-03-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A very useful tool for understanding China. As history is made by persons, I enjoy the detail presentation of events, and insight into the character of those persons who directed that history, for good & ill
Date published: 2020-02-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fall and Rise of China An excellent course for a novice of Chinese history.
Date published: 2019-09-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dr. Baum Is an Amazing Storyteller I purchased this series in anticipation of an upcoming trip to Mainland China and was well rewarded. I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Baum's course on China during the last 100 years. He successfully weaves personal stories into the historical information to provide added insight and entertainment.
Date published: 2019-08-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from …and the Story Continues As I write this, students and other young people have been demonstrating in Hong Kong for some weeks and are currently occupying the airport. Although many of the protestors claim to be Hong Kongers, not Chinese, the parallels between what is happening currently and the several protests cited in the “Fall and Rise of China”, are interesting, even if not recursive. The Democracy Wall in Hong Kong looks pretty much like a similar one in a photograph (and as described by Professor Baum in lecture 32) taken during a brief period (78-79) when Deng began some post-Mao modernization and allowed political commentary in the form of posters on a wall just outside Tiananmen Square in Beijing. How this will play out is anyone’s guess, but after taking this course, I am not optimistic. At least now I have a fair amount of background, useful in following the drama as it plays out. Professor Baum teaches this course not as an historian, and not even as a hard-core political scientist (which he very much was), but rather as a rather engaging raconteur who is just telling a beguiling story, filled with heroes, villains, disasters both natural and manmade, unintended consequences, jerky progress to modernization and a cliffhanger non-ending. But this belies the very sound scholarship underpinning his often-personal story, nor the amount of fact, analysis and sound conjecture that is the real heart of the course. After a couple of introductory, historical background lectures, Dr. Baum uses the next few lectures to briefly trace China’s path during the 19th century, up to the Chinese revolution of 1900-1911 and the fall of the Qing Dynasty. For me this begins the course proper, and the non-historian professor begins presenting material of which he has full mastery. For those who wish more detail on early Chinese history, I recommend “From Yao to Mao” a 36-lecture course by Professor Hammond. The end of that history overlaps a bit with the beginning of this one, but there is no serious duplication. The course is largely laid out on chronological lines, although there are occasional jumps forward and backward, that must be made in order to accommodate other themes. The closer we are taken to the late 90s, the more detailed it becomes, often with Professor Baum inserting some of his own experiences into the narrative. For me this was almost always a positive. Although it is clear that he is a liberal and has a Westerner’s bias I never felt that kept him from presenting the many pluses and minuses of individuals, programs and power shifts. Many reviewers have commented that Dr. Baum often trails off at the end of sentences and is then hard to understand. I did not have this problem, but accept that the complaint is valid. I took the course on video and was pleased with the visual content, but I expect that one could listen on audio and get most of the course benefits. My only complaint is that in one early lecture, we are told that the course material has a section detailing how to pronounce Chinese names according to the English spelling. My course guide on the downloaded version did not have that inclusion. Regrettable, but not nearly so much as to downgrade my rating.
Date published: 2019-08-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Poor video work by Great Courses Video on dvd cuts off the head of the presenter, really distracting from what he says.
Date published: 2019-05-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Professor Baum is excellent Professor Baum (RIP) tells the story of recent Chinese history with clarity and enthusiasm. I was riveted throughout. Dr. Baum's depth of knowledge and insight into the China narrative is state-of-the-art, as befits a great scholar who devoted his life to understanding China and the Chinese people. One of many treats are his stories about the key individuals who influenced this course of events: Mao, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping, Sun Yat-sen, Madame Sun, Generalissimo Chiang, the 'sultry' Madame Chiang (sister of Mme Sun), Wendell Wilkie, Emperor Puyi, and the American journalist Edgar Snow, to name but a few. A great primer on modern China.
Date published: 2019-04-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great perspectives! I enjoyed this course so much for its broad historical perspective as well as Professor Baum's personal experiences and insights into China's tumultuous history and how the past is playing out to this day. This course was a wonderful introduction to the Chinese culture and people for me. I found this course to be hard to put down and felt I gained truly useful knowledge and have recommended it to several friends already.
Date published: 2019-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Eloquent Lecturer! I love this lecturer's eloquent lyrical style! I've listened to this course for many years. It is powerful, personal, and informative.
Date published: 2019-01-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fall and Rise of China This was a very well done course (admittedly a bit long in the tooth at 48 lectures). However, the course and the instructor did what I wanted them to which was to give me the history of and insight into modern China. Professor Baum is entertaining and brings into the course much of his own personal experiences which add both color and insight. The lectures flow well and give excellent insight into how China ended up a communist country, the real impact of Mao while raising significant questions as to how its move into the modern world will end up. I would recommend this course without reservation to anyone trying to understand the world we live in and the forces at work within it.
Date published: 2018-11-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great lecturer! I had seen some of the lectures before but I had to have the entire course. I am really enjoying watching the lectures. They are extremely insightful about the modern history of China. Professor Baum presents his lectures in a very informative way. I would highly recommend to anyone interested in learning more about China to get this course. I’m glad I bought the course there are so many interesting parts of the lecture that I hope to revisit again later! Great Job to The Great Courses series.
Date published: 2018-11-04
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Poor delivery by lecturer Sorry to have to criticize the lecturer but it is a traded entity in a free market And is not of competitive quality
Date published: 2018-08-06
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good political course about China We purchased this course to get information about China before we traveled to this region. We were looking for a course that provided more historical background, about the different dynasties, about construction about the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the Terra Cotta Warriors and about other sites and history. This course did provide a very good political review of how and why communism took over and provided some good information about how China got to were it is today. Professor was good to understand, was knowledgeable, and was appropriate for the political course that he gave.
Date published: 2018-06-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Professor Baum is impressive The course is excellent and Professor Baum’s lecture style is engaging. The history of “modern” China is not something often taught in American schools, at least not when I was a student. This course filled in many gaps in my education. I have taken many of the Great Courses and there have been many very fine lecturers. Some I have commented on favorably for their expansive knowledge and/or their enthusiasm. I have been especially impressed by lecturers like Professor Bob Brier who actually work in their field as well as teaching in academia. These Professors I describe as having been there, done that, and having brought back the T-shirt for the students. The lecturer in The fall and rise of China, Professor Baum, has not only been there, done that, and brought us back the T-shirt, he grew the cotton and made the T-shirt himself. I am not going to give details because I don’t want to spoil the surprise and delight the student will get when the student discovers that the Professor is far more than the course description reveals. I highly recommend this course. A winner at many levels.
Date published: 2018-05-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb course!! Exciting, mind boggling and well narrated and presented. I've known almost nothing on Chinese History prior and now I know a whole lot!! :-) Listened to the Audio through Audible. Great experience and life changing knowledge! Thank you for this course!
Date published: 2018-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must watch if you are intrested in China After spending 4 weeks in China and watching and reading many related articles, I wanting a deeper understanding of many topics. This course was the ticket. The presenter is the real deal. Not only does he have a deep understanding, much of that come with personal observations on site. One of the best Great Courses I have watched. Considering how high I hold the quality of there courses this is a huge complement.
Date published: 2018-01-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Some what tedious. If you are ineterested in a review of Chinese communism this is the course for you. I was somewhat disappointed in this course due to a lack of historical context. This course ended up as a history of the communist party in China rather than a history of China. The professor could have used better graphics to support the discussion as well. Overall only a mediocre couurse.
Date published: 2017-12-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very engaging and detailed My wife is Chinese and had to learn some American history. I thought it only fair that I learn the last 100 years of Chinese history. My wife listened to the lectures with me, so I can review this from a Western and Eastern perspective. My wife thought the professor was remarkably well-balanced in his analysis of Chinese events and learned many things she didn't know about Chinese history. Professor Baum gives a brief overview of the 19th century, but really slows down in the 20th century and give a tremendous amount of detail. Since he visited China so frequently in recent years, he was also able to give many personal and first-hand accounts of observations during his time there, which were interesting. Professor Baum has a very poetic speaking style, that makes it sound almost like he's reading you a book. His lectures are not conversational, but his spoken prose is very vivid. I liked it once I got used to it. The first three lectures were a little slow, but it really picks up from there. If you want to understand why China is the way it is today, I don't think you'll find a better course.
Date published: 2017-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really enjoyed this insider view of China I purchased this course in preparation for my trip to China next month and I feel like Dr. Baum has given me a cultural introduction to the Chinese character as well as an extremely fascinating overview of history. I thoroughly enjoyed his style as well as the many personal anecodotes and experiences he shares. Buy this course!
Date published: 2017-08-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Nothing but Superlatives I bought this course in preparation for a trip to China, and it has been most useful. Dr. Baum's wealth of personal experience, combined with his consummate scholarship make this a superlative course. He is an engaging presenter who organizes and recaps material in a helpful way. This course is so outstanding that I have often watched multiple lectures in one day.
Date published: 2017-08-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect I'm not finished, but I couldn't wait to review this wonderful course. The professor is always clear and interesting, gives the big picture salted with anecdotes, and has some small personal involvements which he discusses. Starts with a quick look at China's long centuries of glory and Asian dominance, how China came to the surprising realization that it had fallen behind Europe, and how (unlike Japan) it missed its first chance to catch up through bad leadership. Soon turns to Mao Zedong. In the civil war with Chiang Kai Shek, the emphasis is on what Mao did right and Chiang did wrong, and your sympathies are pulled to Mao's side. However, once Mao is in charge, it becomes the story of the disastrous consequences of his amateur, headstrong and ideology-driven leadership. Followed by a nuanced description of the recovery after Mao, with successes and failures. I've taken more than a dozen Great Courses, including an overview of Chinese history, and put this one in my top category.
Date published: 2017-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from fantastic Only warning to potential buyers is that this is a 48 lecture series, so prepare to do a lot of listening. Other then that, Baum's talks were absolutely fantastic. Unfortunately the lectures stop at about 2009, after a few months of the Obama administration. About half wasy through the series I learned that Professor Baum died about a year or two after the course was taped. Very sad that I wasn't able to follow him after really getting to know him. Online, someone posted about 2 hours of a ceremony at UCLA given in his honor. His death was truly a great loss for everyone in the US. The course works with just audio, though he does have a fair number of photographs and has the Pinyin and Chinese characters of many of the Chinese phrases he mentions. I'm starting to study Mandarin, so this little extra was appreciated.
Date published: 2017-06-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my most favorite courses! Excellent lectures! Bought the audio download and I consumed the lectures from start to finish in continuously for several days. Riveting, well-crafted lectures, and superbly delivered. Highly recommend this course!
Date published: 2017-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Overview of China's History and Culture The professor is excellent. The content was just right to takes us from being novices to informed. The result was a better understanding of why China is wary of the west, the fears of the communist party and result in repression, and the role this nation (and people) is likely to play in future world affairs. Highly recommended.
Date published: 2017-04-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comprehensive, well-taught, genuine, entertaining. Being a sinologist myself, I was skeptical as to whether this course could teach me anything new or even just keep me entertained for its running time. Quite amazingly, it managed to do both. Professor Richard Baum, who unfortunately passed away a few years ago, here delivers an amazing lecture in which he skillfully weaves his personal experience as a "China watcher" into the story of China's conflict-rich transition to modernity. His style, entertaining and, most importantly, very personal and human, makes this an excellent course for experienced sinologists and newcomers interested in Chinese history (or, in fact, just wanting to understand modern China) alike.
Date published: 2017-03-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Riveting storytelling This is my first Great Course review, and I just have to join the voices of praise for this course. The professor builds suspense so that when one lecture is done I can hardly wait to see what's coming next. Some of this story, such as Mao's "Great Leap Forward," I could barely stand to listen to, it is so awful-- 30 million people starving because of this ideologue. The professor is very well organized and clear, bringing in personal stories of his times in China to bring the tale even more alive. The video version is helpful with its maps and photos, but the audio version would be just fine for this course.
Date published: 2017-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very good I really enjoyed the course and feel like I learned a lot. The professor's deep personal involvement in China and periodic personal anecdotes really enlivened the lectures. Two areas for improvement, however: First, I thought that there could have been a somewhat deeper treatment of the earlier history of China (approximately 42 of 48 lectures covered the period post 1860s). Second, the professor never explained the fact that China has a second major language (Cantonese) and what the implications of this are.
Date published: 2017-03-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great review of recent Chinese history I took this course on The Great Courses Plus in preparation for a tour of China. I found it very informative and detailed history that really explained so much of recent Chinese history. I found Professor Baum's personal anecdotes and insights the best part of the course.
Date published: 2017-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course, opens a world I barely knew This course is excellent! The other reviews cover the content, no need to repeat that here. Professor Baum is an excellent teacher with many examples in the first person. He was in China at many critical times, and was able to make contact with many important people at the right time. This is a front row seat to the story of China. The course opened up my eyes to a world I barely knew beforehand, and provides excellent information and background on China. Strongly recommend this course to anyone with an interest in China.
Date published: 2017-01-02
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