Over several decades of teaching various courses, I’ve looked through literally hundreds of “readers.” I’ve even used a few. At the worst, some students may have looked at entries because they knew this material would be included on tests. At best, a few may actually have been exposed to some of the documents that are part of history.
Now Victor Mair and two of his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania have produced a reader that truly reflects the culture of their interest. Its ninety-two entries run a wide gamut of China’s past, though the distribution is skewed toward the earlier periods. One-third covers the period up to the end of the Han Dynasty. The editors’ journey is half over by the end of the Tang Dynasty and two-thirds complete with the demise of the Song Dynasty.