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Hayford, China, 1997

Philip Cho reviews the book for H-Asia, November 1997, credit H-Asia.
January 1, 1997

Charles Hayford. China. New Edition. Oxford and Santa Barbara, Calif.: Clio Press, 1997.

Reviewed by: Philip Cho, University of Pennsylvania.
Published by: H-Asia (November, 1997)

For students and librarians daunted by the sheer volume of secondary literature on China, Charles Hayford's selective and annotated bibliography China in a new edition is an excellent guide. Hayford's experience as a book review editor of the Journal of Asian Studies is reflected in his apt choices and keen summaries of mostly English and a few French sources from the 1980s up to 1995. He aims to provide a balanced and representative introduction to the various perspectives and debates in all fields and disciplines studying China.

China is part of the World Bibliographical Series published by Clio Press. Intended principally for the English speaker, the series covers the culture and life of every country through a critical survey of scholarship. Targeting a wide audience, the publisher employs in each volume a standard set of topics ranging from tourism and travel guides to biography, religion, literature and history. Entries are numbered and indexed by author, title, and subject. This new edition for China not only includes some classic works written before the 1980s but also goes far beyond Peter Cheng's earlier edition in the quality of selections and descriptions.

Topics also reflect the growing popularity of several areas of scholarship. Students will appreciate the sections on Central Asia and non-Han dynasties to 1800; minorities and ethnic relations; science and technology; women, sex, and gender studies; law, democracy and constitutions; the 1989 crises and its aftermath. Reflecting his expertise, Hayford includes sections on agricultural and rural political economy, covering village life in China both before and after 1949. At the same time, Hayford's careful selection does not miss some important works on relatively neglected periods in Chinese history. For example, he includes David McMullen's work on the Tang, and Albert Dien and Charles Holmcombe on the Six Dynasties.

Restricted in topics and number of pages, the bibliography primarily covers well-researched books that will point readers to other kinds of sources or specialized materials. Hayford includes very few articles and excludes dissertations, government reports and archival materials. However, readers who use the bibliography's selections are sure to find references to works that were not included, such as Robert Hartwell's seminal papers on economic history in medieval China, David Keegan's dissertation on the Huangdi neijing, or Teng and Biggerstaff's Annotated Bibliography of Chinese Reference Works. Hence the new edition of China is an excellent source that will enable readers to go beyond the items listed. As Hayford states, "Even in our age of massive computer bibliographies, there is no substitute for a knowledgeable professional librarian or bookseller to help locate that most useful book, the one you discover yourself!"

Citation: Philip Cho . "Review of Charles Hayford, China," H-Asia, H-Net Reviews, November, 1997. URL:

Republished with permission from H-Net Reviews.