Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What Publishing Black Hole Did Ancient China Sink Into?

The 6th grade history teacher came to me last week and said, "I'm starting a research project on Ancient China next week. Will you help?" After assuring her I would, I ran down to the Lower School library, knowing I wouldn't have much age-appropriate material. I found about 5 books, so decided I'd just order some.

After poring over at least 12 different catalogues, I came up with a whopping 10 books. I found shelves-full on Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt--even Mesopotamia, for Pete's sake! Books on politics, daily life, sports, art, religion, architecture... every subject you can imagine. And 10 books on Ancient China. I couldn't even find much online.

What gives?? I assume it's not the publishers, since they only provide what they have a market for. Are schools not studying Ancient China? Seems pretty bizarre, given China's historic importance and rising international significance.

I mentioned this at lunch, and the History Dept. Chair said it's actually a subject of debate in historical circles--that it shows an inherent euro-centric bias. Makes sense.

It will be interesting to see if that changes in the next several years as China continues to hold most of our debt and grows increasingly important. It would behoove us to understand the country and its citizens!

In the meantime, I'm emailing publishers asking for more material.


  1. I just checked my stacks as we run a comparative civ. course here. I have only 4 titles on Ancient China. It truly is amazing.
    Just in case you don't know about them they are:
    Waterlow - The Ancient Chinese

    Kleeman - The Ancient Chinese World

    (Eyewitness) Cotterell - Ancient China

    (Time Life Lost Civilizations) Buried Kingdoms.

  2. Thanks for the titles. I'll definitely add those to my list. Also glad to know I'm not just hallucinating! (grin)