The Open Empire has been on my "to buy" list for a while. But for now, my reading is this, and I feel another kung-fu game brewing in my brain...Finished a round of the history of China and Japan. For China I really enjoyed The Cambridge Illustrated History of China by Patricia Buckley Ebrey and The Open Empire: A History of China Through 1600 by Valerie Hansen.
The first is a nice detailed overview of the entire history and is especially good as a resource for sorting out the details of Chinese history
prior to the rise of the First Emperor as many books can be scarce on details for that period. The second covers the same period but concentrates on slightly different topics such as short bits on the lives of artists and poets, so it's a good companion.
Hensen has updated her book to cover up to 1800 in a newer edition I don't have.
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For Japan my favourite was Japan: Its History and Culture by W. Scott Morton and J. Kenneth Olenik. I felt it gives a concise account that nevertheless leaves you with a good overview of each period. In particular it has a good account of how the Japanese settled Japan and what we know of the rise of the Yamato clan who have served as the emperors from before 500AD to today. Also how their rise shaped the Shinto religion.
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And I kinda feel a totally noble envy towards Dumarest's business sense in placing bids.