History by the people, in magazine form

National History, September 2007
This is the launch issue of National History (时代教育·先锋国家历史), a new biweekly magazine published out of Chengdu.

The editors' statement invokes Sima Qian and Liang Qichao to describe their aim of writing a people's history rather than an official history. They point out that this goal is more attainable today than it has ever been:

Social progress has made history written by the people a possibility. With the evolution of recording and broadcasting technology, everyone has been given the tools to write history. In this age, those who have a monopoly on power and information no longer have a monopoly on history.

We use not only pen and paper but cameras, videocameras, computers, internet forums, and blogs....We can record the present and revive the past, and we can continue lost traditions by recording family histories and restoring family records. History, as we define it, is anything that has happened that should not be forgotten. What we are writing is history; it may not be a grand narrative, but bits and pieces of facts when combined together make up true History.

So, let us write history together.

How is this mission carried out? Under the "Living History" section, the magazine contains a piece by Ding Yujuan about her father Ding Weifen, a legislator in the early Republican period. And the "Family" section looks at the history of Yuanjiagou, a remote village in Shaanxi Provice that produced more than its share of provincial leaders.

The stories promoted on the cover are not quite so initimate. The teaser for the cover story on Che, titled "Sick Man Guevara," reads "He was a sick man. He is a sickness." Articles in the feature look at the man behind the myth as well as how Che-chic has played out in China. Other articles: an interview with "Taiwan's Yu Dan" Fu Pei-rong, who has appeared on Shandong TV to discuss Confucius; the dismissal of the East German army; and how Brezhnev's funeral broke the ice between the PRC and the USSR.

National History has gotten a number of well-known commentators to write columns. In this issue, Yuan Weishi uses the recent publication of a Chinese edition of Yomiuri Shimbun's Who Was Responsible as a starting point for an investigation into the causes of China's trials in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Zhang Ming, who seems to have a column in every major publication, writes about the Yunnan Military Academy. Xiao Shu wonders why China doesn't have a Mother Teresa. And Fu Guoyong writes about three individuals born in 1893 - industrialist Lu Zuofu, educator James Yen, and Confucian scholar Liang Shuming - and their endeavors in different parts of China.

The Xian Feng China (成都先锋文化传媒有限公司), an arm of the Chengdu Media Group, is the force behind National History. Xian Feng runs a number of pricey specialty titles like Golf Tattler, Bang ("Rankings produce viewpoints"), and Pinglun, a monthly commentary publication that sells for the absurd price of 38 yuan an issue.

So for just 10 yuan, National History seems like a pretty good deal. The first issue comes with a free gift, too: a tin of Zhuyeqing green tea from Sichuan.

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There are currently 14 Comments for History by the people, in magazine form.

Comments on History by the people, in magazine form

Absolutely precious. A "History" magazine coming from a country with an aversion to truth and with a severe, selective editing history.

HEY! About "precious histories": are there any history magazines that are NOT "severe & selective" about the Americas? Specifically, the "species loss" that befell various peoples there? Wow, maybe there should be a PRIZE for comparative historical studies. Competitors for such a prize, would maybe produce a more balanced "outpouring" from idle (?unemployed/unemployable) bloggers.

Gee, Mary, I wonder where you read these histories about the Americas? Maybe you read them from Americans--because it sure wasn't other countries that were doing primary research about 'species loss' in the Americas. Don't worry, there are plenty of Americans willing (and able to be published) to write negative about Americans.

So where should I look? For research on species loss in the Americas, I mean. Thanks for any leads.

Mary: try google scholar, or just the ordinary google. You'll find loads, and Hatch is right, most of it is written by Americans.

Mary, this area has already been so heavily investigated that you might want to consider focusing instead on something under-researched like the modern history of the Uighur, where you could actually do something to further the scope of both academic and general knowledge - assuming that's your agenda, of course.

Obviously, if you're only interested in secondary sources, focusing on American history should prove much easier, as the available information is vastly more comprehensive and reliable.


Yes, I too wonder about agendas, of various bloggers, etc. Especially the disguised ones (both agendas & bloggers, that is to say).

Really Mary?

Then perhaps you could edify us regarding one or more of these 'disguised agendas'. I'm most curious.

Of course, the beneficiary of a system in which the fundamental operating principle is conspiracy would be expected to harbor such suspicions, as any wealth and education she has obtained has been accrued exactly through these means (disguised agendas, in case the antecedent isn't perfectly clear). It's difficult for me to articulate how unmitigably disgusting this is, so I'll leave that in your veteran hands.


I sadly realize that I cannot "edify", or understand what-on-earth has been "unmitigably" disgusting, etc., etc. This must mean (I suppose) that I am unqualified for lofty (also lugubrious!)discussions like this one. I suppose I must go back & scold my English teacher, thanks to whom, I can speak & understand ONLY plain language.

That's it?

You made an allegation about the "disguised" agendas "of various bloggers, etc." and you're unable to provide any evidence whatsoever to substantiate it? Nothing? Well, at least you're consistent.

Allow me to offer a bit of unsolicited advice: feigning ignorance and playing stupid are not particularly effective avoidance strategies. Note I am being generous by allowing the possibility that you are either feigning or playing, although I see little evidence to indicate that such generosity is merited.

Here's a simple scenario for you, Mary:

If I claim to represent the public, and then steal their land and/or money in order to enrich myself, buying myself a car, apartment, or say, overseas education at their expense, I have obviously broken the law. However, if I conspire with my colleagues, I need never be held accountable for my actions. I can present myself as a public servant while I simultaneously pillage public funds. I can feast every night, while hundreds of millions of citizens can't even afford a decent education for their children. I live in comfort and luxury while they toil. Their taxes pay for my extravagance.

Here's a simple question for you, Mary:

What should be done with such a person?

P.S: Hyperventilating about non-existent, hypothetical, phantasmagoric people... How CAN anyone reply? Hyperventilate in response?!

Well that's interesting, Mary. If such people are "non-existent, hypothetical, phantasmagoric" then they couldn't possibly have names (like, say, Hu Changqing, Zheng Xiaoyu, etc. ad nauseam) or have been tried and convicted, much less executed. The PRC Anti-Corruption Bureau, media reports, presentations at the National People's Congress and tens of thousands of 'mass incidents' are all reactions to a "non-existent, hypothetical, phantasmagoric" problem.

Thanks for clearing that up.

Thank you also for such a succinct expression of the strength and conviction of your position. I very much appreciate that you offered us all your best.


Never heard those names. But there ARE all sorts of named, non-existent things. (A rather blood-thirsty DRACULA comes to mind). Also (less scary & more comical) of course, Humpty Dumpty, Tweedledee, Tweedledum, Mad Hatter.

I'm happy to agree with your second point about non-existent things. The conjunction in the second sentence in my previous comment should have been an 'and' rather than an 'or'. Thank you for bringing this to my attention, as well as sharing your great familiarity with names. This greatly helps to put the entire discussion into perspective.

Best wishes

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