Education About Asia: Online Archives

New Additions to the Search Party: Using The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection

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First published more than ten years ago, Jonathan Spence’s The Search for Modern China has become a popular text for many courses in Chinese history since 1600. Promised in the acknowledgments to the first edition was “a companion volume of primary sources,” being compiled by Cheng Pei-kai and Michael Lestz. This companion, The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection appeared in January 1999, along with the second edition of Spence’s textbook. The Documentary Collection presents teachers with a tremendous new resource for teaching about modern China, either as a companion to Search, as a companion to another text, or by itself. As with many documents collections, it is an extremely malleable source that can be adapted to a large variety of classroom settings. Time spent planning and preparing how to use the sources will be well rewarded in the classroom.


de Bary, Wm. Theodore, with Richard Lufrano. Sources of Chinese Tradition, volume II, revised (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999).

Cheng, Pei-kai and Michael Lestz with Jonathan Spence. The Search for Modern China: A Documentary Collection (New York: W. W. Norton, 1999).

Ebrey, Patricia. Chinese Civilization and Society: A Sourcebook (New York: MacMillan & Co., 1993).

Lu, Hsun, Gladys Yang and Yang Hsien-Yi, translators. True Story of Ah Q (Foreign Languages Press, 1990).

Spence, Jonathan. The Search for Modern China (New York: W. W. Norton, 1999).

Waley, Arthur. The Opium War Through Chinese Eyes (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990).

Zha, Jianying. China Pop: How Soap Operas, Tabloids, and Bestsellers Are Transforming a Culture (New York: New Press, 1995).

Zhai, Zhenhua.  Red Flower of China (New York: Soho Press, Inc., 1993).