For too long, the history of contact between China and the West has been portrayed as a one-sided encounter: Europeans were said to have discovered China, while Chinese responses to the West went largely unnoticed. In this book, D. E. Mungello dispels the myth that China was a silent partner in the dialogue between Eastern and Western civilizations. Although they did not reciprocate in sending ships, cultural emissaries or religious missionaries westward, neither did the Chinese passively accept Europe's enthusiastic embrace of their culture, arts, and manufactures. Aspects of Western art, science, and religion made significant inroads into Chinese culture, which are only recently coming to the attention of Western historians. And at a time when the West is once again setting its sights on strengthening ties with China, Mungello's work offers crucial historical perspective. It reminds us that the political and economic dominance of the West is actually characteristic of only the past two centuries, prior to which it was China that led the world in terms of economic and political development, and in the sophistication of its high culture and technological achievement.
This concise and well-written text will make a wonderful addition to reading lists in East Asian or Chinese History classes, as well as courses on World History. Visit our website for sample chapters.
D.E. Mungello is professor of history and director of Asian Studies at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.