212 episodes

Since 2010, The China History Podcast, presented by Laszlo Montgomery presents over two hundred episodes of curated topics from China's antiquity to modern times.

The China History Podcast Laszlo Montgomery

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.8, 568 Ratings

Since 2010, The China History Podcast, presented by Laszlo Montgomery presents over two hundred episodes of curated topics from China's antiquity to modern times.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
568 Ratings

568 Ratings

BGR714 ,

Good, but interestingly politicized by omission

The Chinese history podcast strikes a good balance between breadth and depth and between the broadly significant and the interesting or obscure.

Please do not let the few words in this first paragraph diminish their significant. The words that follow are, despite their greater number, less significant.

Some times, I am not sure whether the expected audience is the uninitiated or the modestly familiar. I think this confusion manifests itself in the absence of quick callbacks or short explanations when using the names of people and places. For example, “Fujian” means a lot less to me than “Fujian, just across the water from Taiwan” or “in the southeast.”

The names of people are difficult to follow for people who are not already familiar with Chinese. Sure, it’s easy for me to distinguish “Dan” from “Ben” or “Larry” from “Harry,” but the person who didn’t grow up speaking English may have as much trouble with those names as I do with many of the Chinese names. The bare names can be disorienting as opposed to references to the person’s actions, position, traits, or significance. Such references might be repetitive for someone who already knows the material, the language, and the naming conventions, but for ears that have never been trained to distinguish between the four tones, comprehension can be inhibited.

Finally, the podcast seems to be remarkably political by omission. The narrator, Laszlo Montgomery, is obviously not political himself, but topics he chooses and the way he approaches them feels like a great example of how people “work towards the leader” in authoritarian regimes. The autocrat need not issue edicts. The prohibitions are understood, not stated.

Consider what happened 30 years ago. And, yes, I am posting this review on this day for this reason. Tank man.

There is a choice to call it “the June Fourth Incident” or “The Tiananmen Square Protests” that were followed by “The Tiananmen Square Massacre.”

Guess which terminology is adopted by the person whose employer does business in China?

This event might be one of the most significant events of the 20th century, not just the Chinese 20th century. The rest of the world struggled to determine how to interact with China after hundreds, maybe thousands, of students died 30 years ago today. China did not take the path of Eastern Europe.

And, yet, not one episode is devoted to it? Not on the 25th anniversary? Not on the 30th anniversary? The excellent and thorough biography of Deng Xiaoping mentions “the June Fourth Incident,” but just enough so that Westerners won’t be jarred by its absence.

The omission of such a significant event makes me wonder whether and how political concerns have distorted the presentation of other events about which I am much less familiar. I suspect that the distortion is minimal. The Tiananmen Square Massacre is so significant and remembering it is so troubling to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party that I doubt any other historical event demands similarly evasive treatment, but I do not know.

The point is: this podcast is well done history, but presented with an astute political awareness.

Furpep ,

Re-recorded episodes?

Just discovered this podcast and have enjoyed first few episodes. It appears these have been re-recorded since reference is made to 2017 in 2010 episodes plus future episodes are referenced by specific episode numbers. Really enjoy presentation but wonder why the re-recording?

Woolvetw ,

Update to previous review

Stopping in to refresh my previous review. Laszlo if anything has gotten better as time rolls on. Interesting topics presented in a clean, no fluff, method. Well worth the time.

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