The Penguin History Of Modern China by Jonathan Fenby
Although I was given this because a family member bought it twice by mistake, it has come in really useful for research on AI novels set in China…
The book begins around 1850 and tackles the history of the nation in six parts. Although it was tricky for this Western reader to get his head around the names, once you make the effort to remember them using phonetics (I tried to do it mostly on the surnames, which by Chinese tradition are written first) it does get easier. The book is really well written, engaging and thorough. It’s also fascinating, and gives great insight into how and why the Chinese are attempting to make the twenty-first century their own.
Highly recommended to all readers of history.