Mini Review – Our Oriental Heritage by Will Durant (Part 4) – The Far East

My longest book to date has reached its end, and this is just the 1st volume (out of 11) in the The Story of Civilization series by Will Durant. This last part focused on ancient China and Japan.

Was it worth it? We are talking about a 50 hour audiobook. Yes, I think so! Does the #sunkcostfallacy play a role in this answer? It probably does! Iโ€™ve suffered through a lot of dry talk about pottery and poetry to reach this point.

๐Ÿ“ The feet of girls at age 7 where compressed with tight bandages to prevent their further growth, so that the mature lady might walk with a mincing step erotically pleasing to the men.

In the prescence of a lady the word shoe was taboo.๐Ÿฆถ ๐Ÿ‘ 

๐Ÿ“ To know the โ€˜Daoโ€™ is to surpress ones knowledge. โ€œWe have to forget our theories and feel the facts.โ€

๐Ÿ“ Confucianism: โ€œOnly in Christianity and in Buddhism can we find again so heroic an effort to transmute into decency the natural brutality of men.โ€

๐Ÿ“ Chinese civilization in 2 words: Philosophy and Porcelain.

๐Ÿ“ โ€œBeards where small and always shaved, but seldom of the owner thereof.โ€ oh, I cannot but LOVE Will Durants prose and elegant summaries of the smallest aspects of civilization. ๐Ÿ˜‚

๐Ÿ“ Chinese writing: โ€œThe same character is read as different sounds and words in different localities.โ€ I remember seeing Chinese and Japanese students, who where unable to communicate verbally, communicate through written messages when I studied in Japan. ๐Ÿคฏ

๐Ÿ“ When the revolution raged they forgot the old sages words. โ€œHe who thinks the old embankments useless and destroys them is sure to suffer from the desolation caused by overflowing water.โ€

โญ๏ธ TAKEAWAY:

โ€œThe accumulation of wealth in the hands of the minority is no doubt a universal and apparently unfailing concomitant of civilization.โ€ We see this play out over and over again.

Iโ€™m still green but now I at least have a slight understanding of Confucianism and rudimentary understanding of the Chinese and Japanese culture and history.


Which books is the longest book you read? ๐Ÿค”

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Thoughts on: โ€œDeng Xiaopingโ€ by Alexander V. Pantsov

Deng Xiaoping led China through far reaching reforms in the post Mao era and is often credited as the force behind China’s spectacular economic growth. The expansion of the Chinese market and opening up the country to international trade is a part of his legacy, but also less glamorous deeds, such as the massacre on Tiananmen Square.


This book is thick, meticulously detailed and unfortunately rather boring. I don’t think it’s the authors fault, rather its just the fact that Dengs life is not that exciting.


The best parts of the books was the descriptions of how the communist party wanted to open up China and introduce elements from market economy within a socialist framework.


I love the rationalizations used when the Communist party discussed if they where to allow small private businesses in China;

Someone mentioned that Marxs “Das Capital” tells the story of a capitalist who exploited 8 workers.

They argued: “If Marx spoke only of precisely 8, then the hiring of seven won’t make one a capitalist. And then if the boss also is working, what kind of possible capitalism could this be?” Going with this interpretation of Marx, the Communist party open the door for small businesses of maximum 7 employees.


๐Ÿ“ “It doesn’t matter if the cat is back or yellow as long as it catches mice” ๐Ÿญ ๐Ÿฑ this famous quote is said to be coined by Deng.


๐Ÿ“ “Self criticism” sessions: a interesting concept where politicians who have fallen out of favor have to make a detailed statements of ideological errors and affirming their renewed belief in the Party line.


๐Ÿ“ Family contract system: farmers were given by the government a quota of goods to produce. What food they grew beyond the quota was sold in the free market at unregulated prices. This system became a great success and increased the standard of living In the 1980s.


๐Ÿ“ Deng Xiaoping was involved in the decision behind the Tiananmen Square Massacre where hundreds of protesters where killed.


Read it if you love Chinese politics & history. Otherwise a Wikipedia article on Deng will suffice.



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