(I posted this at the History SE and was directed to post it here.)
I'm studying Chinese history on my own and hope an expert in the field could recommend a/the leading, scholarly history covering from the Qing through at least the beginning of Deng Xiaopeng's reign. I've checked syllabi of college classes, Amazon reviews, and a few other sources; it is impossible to separate wheat and chaff without expertise.
While I want the best resource I can find, some readability would be appreciated too.
I found the following, for what it's worth:
The Search for Modern China (Third Edition) by Jonathan Spence: I read this through the Taiping Rebellion and stopped (which is why I'm now looking for a replacement). Spence writes exceptionally well and this book seems very highly regarded. I was surprised to find key questions often overlooked; important background frequently omitted; and an almost complete lack of footnotes, any other discussion of his sources, or discussion of their uncertainties -- we are given only his analysis to take at face value. He says this Third Edition has many edits; perhaps earlier editions were different?
A History of Chinese Civilization by Jacques Gernet, J. R. Foster, Charles Hartman (translated from French): This seems well-regarded, but I'm not sure if the Amazon reviewers know what they are talking about. Also, less than a third of it covers the period I'm interested in.
China: A History by Harold Tanner: Also seems well-regarded, but again it's hard to tell and it covers all of Chinese history.