The Story of China: Michael Wood in Conversation with Lijia Zhang

China’s 4000-year history is still surprisingly little known in the wider world, but it is one of intense drama, fabulous creativity and deep humanity – and of the greatest importance to the world in the 21st century.

 

Michael Wood’s recent one-volume, The Story of China, mingles the grand sweep with local and personal stories, woven together with the author’s own travel journals, taking us from the desolate Mongolian steppes to the ultra-modern world of Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. It includes latest archaeological and documentary discoveries; correspondence and court cases going back to the Qin and Han dynasties; family letters from soldiers in the real-life Terracotta Army; stories from Silk Road merchants and Buddhist travellers; and memoirs of emperors, poets and peasants.

 

In the modern era, he highlights electrifying manifestos of the feminist revolutionaries Qiu Jin and He Zhen, extraordinary eye-witness accounts of the Japanese invasion and the Cultural Revolution under Chairman Mao, and fascinating newly published sources for the great turning points in China’s modern history, including the Tiananmen Square crisis of 1989, and the new order of President Xi Jinping.

 

Michael discusses this extraordinary story with writer Lijia Zhang, one of our pre-eminent commentators on China.

 

Praise for The Story of China

 

'A learned, wise, wonderfully written single volume history of a civilisation that I knew I should know more about' Tom Holland

 

'Masterful and engrossing... well-paced, eminently readable and well-timed. A must-read for those who want – and need – to know about the China of yesterday, today and tomorrow' Peter Frankopan

 

Michael Wood is an internationally acclaimed historian, film-maker and broadcaster, and the author of several bestselling books, including three Sunday Times No. 1 bestsellers. He has made well over a hundred documentary films, hailed as some of “the most innovative history programmes ever on TV” by the Independent. These include In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great and The Story of China. Michael is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, the Royal Historical Society and the Society of Antiquaries.

 

Lijia Zhang is a writer and columnist. She was born into a working-class family in Nanjing, on the banks of the Yangtze River, and worked for 10 years at a military factory that produced intercontinental missiles, before teaching herself English and literature and moving to London in 1990. She earned a master's degree in journalism from Goldsmiths, University of London, and a fellowship in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Her book of oral history China Remembers (1999) was followed by ”Socialism Is Great!" A Worker's Memoir of the New China (2011), published in eight countries, and Lotus: A Novel (2017). She appears regularly on TV, radio and in the international media.

 

The British Library is a charity. Your support helps us open up a world of knowledge and inspiration for everyone. Donate today.