After an introduction full of unexplained terms more likely to confuse than clarify issues for a beginner, the Loeschers settle into a far less formidable chapter on ""historical roots"" up to China's first contact with the West, and then survey China's history from then to the present. Post-Revolutionary China is the focus of the book, though, and the previous history is selectively presented, with an eye to events and ideas useful in examining policies of the People's Republic. Many of these cultural ""roots"" are interesting and perhaps overlooked factors, but are overemphasized in this account. The Loeschers either presume a previous knowledge of Communist ideology or deem it relatively unimportant to an understanding of modern China. Sections on the cultural revolution or the recent conservative consolidations of power make the ""Mandate of Heaven"" or the ""century-old-debate"" between tradition and western technology seem more decisive than any political debate. Despite this conspicuous lack, this concise history is informative and very readable. The last chapter alone, outlining the political ins and outs of party members, would be helpful to students beginning to read newspaper accounts of current developments.