VCE History - Revolutions

This guide identifies resources relevant to the VCE History - Revolutions units

Ebooks & databases & print resources

Our Library has a number of ebooks considering issues around the communist revolution in China. We also subscribe to a wide range of scholarly journals. Both ebooks and online journals that can be accessed  using your State Library Victoria barcode


Search ebooks using keywords. You can also search for similar books by clicking on the subject heading under the Details tab for any book. 

Some suggested subject headings and keyword phrases: 

Broader catalogue searches

Use the dropdown options to search different types of publications Books etc. will include print as well as ebooks. Articles will find full text articles.

China search on catalogue


Primary sources

  • Examples of documents from NAA

China Political Parties. Organisation of Communist Party. 1949 - 1954.

This includes translations of Chinese government documents and briefing notes for diplomats. 

Some items of interest

  • People's Daily editorial 1 October 1952 [pp 68-71]: Our great motherland is marching forward to peace construction
    • the tone of this item indicates perhaps an underlying sense of insecurity and threat from the West. The real inherent issues of bureaucratic corruption are highlighted.
  • Party structure with brief biographies of members of the Central Committee p.241-250
  • Party Reform Education  pp. 148-166
    • translations of several internal Chinese Communist Party documents outlining the need for party reform education

China - Political parties - Communist Party - Political theory 1946 - 1952

Includes background papers from the American Consulate in Hong Kong, and translations of Chinese articles

  • Mao's theory of the Chinese revolution by Ch'en Po-ta   pp 7-41 
    • also known as Chen Boda, prominent member of Chinese Communist Party, a secretary to Mao
  • How to be a good communist by Liu Shao-ch'i pp 43-93 
    • Liu Shao-ch'i  was Vice Chairman of the Central People's Government in 1949, key figure in the CCP includes supplement pp.94-98 by Michael Shapiro (an Englishman and committed communist who went to China in 1950 and remained there for the rest of his life) and biography of Liu Shao-ch'i p.99
  • People's Daily editorial: October Revolution and Asia  pp 106-7
    • very patriotic and belligerent editorial reflecting a stark gulf between USSR/ China and the west and highligting the battle for hearts and minds in Asia. 
  • Report on present situation delivered by Mao to the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party 25 December 1947 pp.324-335
  • President Chiang's New Year message to the nation 1 January 1948 pp. 336-340
    • by October of 1949 Mao's Communists had overwhelmed Chiang's nationalists and he and the remnants of his army had fled to Taiwan.  These documents, written at the same time, provide great contrast.


Here are examples of some articles that can be found on specific issues of the communist revolution in China, the causes and the aftermath. 

These articles can be contradictory as different historians interpret the evidence of events in different ways. The articles will also have footnotes and bibliographies that can lead to further articles.

These are just a few examples of articles you can find using our databases and Article search through our Library catalogue.

Historical perspectives on the Chinese revolution

The subject of history is the study of past events. A historian is someone who researches these events and interprets them. Different historians may judge the causes and effects of historical events differently and may place greater emphasis on certain documents or evidence to form their conclusions.

Historians may also approach and interpret evidence through their own personal perspectives, influenced by their background and political, ideological or social beliefs. For example historians may view historical events through a left wing or conservative lens. Historians may be identified as ‘revisionist’ if they reinterpret events in a way that contradict traditional historical conclusions.

Choose from the tabs above for suggestions of texts written from a specific perspective. We don't, though, want to classify historians too narrowly and so the categories should be interpreted broadly.

Alpha history

This site has been developed to support VCE students and includes excellent overviews of each of the VCE Revolutions topics. The site also has pages on historical perspectives, highlighting some of the leading historians.


  • Szonyi, Michael (editor)  A companion to Chinese history
    • this collection of essays outlines developments in the approach of historians to Chinese history. It is an ebook that can be read online. Up to 60 pages can be downloaded and kept.
  • Print books on the historiography of China.

Maoist historians tend to present a positive view of the revolution and Maoist China. Often these histories were written soon after events and have a political and ideological motive.

  • Mao's theory of the Chinese revolution by Ch'en Po-ta   pp 7-41 (page 9 of pdf)
    • also known as Chen Boda, prominent member of Chinese Communist Party, a secretary to Mao. This is very much an uncritical piece from Mao's administration, part of the collection from the National Archives of Australia mentioned above.

These books consider different perspectives on Chinese history, and the interpretation of historical events to fit political or ideological motives.

Western liberalism is characterised by belief in the freedom of the individual and civil liberty in a modern democracy.  As historians they may interpret events from a belief that all societies are or should aspire to this model.

The historians listed come from the Western liberal tradition. Despite their critical approach, there is a recognition of the massive changes and challenges in China, that within a century have taken this massive, enormously populous country from a semi-feudal society to an emerging superpower. 

Over the last 40 years, since the death of Mao, there has been a reassessment of the revolution, and some of the more venerated and mythic interpretations of aspects of the revolution have been challenged.

Neo Maoists are modern historians with a sympathetic view of Chinese revolution and the development and administration of Maoist China.

Reading list

The Victorian Curriculum & Assessment Authority have published a list of suggested resources for the revolutions history VCE units.

Many of these items are held at our Library and many will be held at public libraries. Because they are on a reading list they will be highly sought after and so may not always be available from a Library.

On our Library catalogue (or any other library) search by title or a combination of title and author keywords. See the tabs above for more information on searching at the State Library or public libraries.

Our Library is a research library and our material is available to be viewed by anyone but we are not a lending library. Register with the Library so you can access our journal and newspaper databases and ebooks,  and to order printed items from our storage areas. 

When you search the catalogue, the record of an item will tell you where it is located and how you can access it. It will either be available online; on the open shelves in one of our reading rooms; in onsite storage (request using your Library barcode number); held offsite (contact us and we will order it for you).

Example of an item available as an ebook and also in print,contains,biggest%20estate%20on%20earth%20gammage&tab=default_tab&search_scope=Everything&vid=MAIN&offset=0


Look up you local library with a simple internet search or select your regional library service

From Library Link Victoria you can search across a selection of Victorian library services  including public libraries, all state libraries and Victorian University libraries.

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From your results screen: you can save the record; check the full details that will list location and availability; if you belong to that Library service you may be able to put reserve the book if it is on loan. See the options at far right of the results

Details Get ItItem location

Trove is a database that brings together holdings of libraries across Australia. Libraries choose to upload items to Trove, so it contains most but not all library catalogue records. Libraries may not always remove records of books that they no longer hold. Always click on the library to make sure a book is still available at that library.  

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Choose Borrow option for locations. Note not all holdings will be available for loan



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