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The Civilization of China

Herbert Allen Giles

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .portunities of satisfying public opinion in regard to the obligations of the rich towards the poor. Consequently, Chinese cities are left without efficient lighting, draining, or scavengering; and it is astonishing how good the health of the people living under these conditions can be. There is no organized police force; but cities are divided into wards, and at certain points barriers are drawn across the streets at night, with perhaps one watchman to each. It is not considered respectable to be out late at night, and it is not safe to move about without a lantern, which is carried, for those who can afford the luxury, by a servant preceding them.

One difference between life in China and life in this country may be illustrated to a certain extent in the following way. Supposing a traveller, passing through an English village, to be hit on the head by a stone. Unless he can point out his assailant, the matter is at an end. In China, all the injured party has to. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Giles' goal with this book is to provide an overview of Chinese history and culture for those who know little of China. In that respect, it does a very useful job of introducing the reader to the end of 19th Century / start of 20th Century view and understanding of China. If you've read China and...more

Very readable, interesting and informative. Nice introduction to a bit of history, philosophy, manners, and other cultural items. Of course, it's outdated because it was published in 1911, but the affection of the writer for China and her people is clear. It makes me wonder what would have happen...more

It's a book written a century ago trying to explain Chinese civilization to British people. In my opinion, it didn't age well.
Reading the book, it's not easy to know what's objective vs what's the perception of the writer that probably lived in a high status environment, vs the attempt from the...more

Very good introduction to Chinese history and culture and is so packed with information! It's a good foundation and covers a lot of territory in only 250 pages. I'm excited to read more though from other sources.