Fall and Rise of China

Fall and Rise of China, taught by Richard Baum (Teaching Company) ★★★★★
This is one of the best Teaching Company series that I’ve heard in a long time. Prof. Baum was quite compelling in his presentation and maintained a competent discussion mixed with a large volume of personal experience to be not only informative but also enjoyable to listen to. I personally appreciate Baum’s teaching style, though he does demand full attention, since he typically does NOT repeat what he’s said. I especially appreciated how Dr. Baum maintained neutral political stances in his discussions–he did not use his lecture stand as a bully pulpit to push down his personal ideology. Yet, few professors in my recent memory (from the Teaching Company) have sparked such interest in the topic at hand. A day did not go by when I was seeking further information from the internet, and even better, from close friends who grew up in mainland China and could not only confirm but expand on the professor’s statements. Prof. Baum offers several introductory lectures to provide a background history of the West’s involvement with China in the 1800s, leading to the rise of anti-western sentiment and the emergence of Mao Zedong. Baum follows through the life of Mao to his death, with China emerging from its backwater status to be a leading economic and social force in the world. These lectures are a beautiful complement to another excellent Teaching Company series “From Yao to Mao: 5000 years of Chinese History”. Regardless of one’s view of China, it remains a people that are rising on the world scene, and there is no better way to mentally fit China into the grand scheme of things than through this set of lectures.