Spandrell took a break from being a Gloomy Gus and cranked out a nice series of posts on the Song Dynasty of China. This is a fun series to read of history from a non-prog point of view. Spandrell does add some bits of humor via his writing style and approach to things. This is a fantastic story, and yes, Spandrell weaves it like a campfire story of what not to do.
Check each of them out: The Song Golden Age. The Song Decline. The Song Fall. The Song Surrender.
I highly recommend them. You might even be inspired to go digging into history books afterwards, at a minimum surf through Wikipedia. You will want to look into Yue Fei. There are many things in the narrative that are unique to China and many things applicable to all cultures. All cultures have their quirks and filial loyalty in China is quite the force even for the emperors.
One thing Spandrell stresses, and he does this in other posts, is how the Chinese, for centuries, are focused on good governance. They have seen dynasties rise and fall, expand and contract, and there is a long written record of deeds to see what worked and what did not.
The key for the Chinese is if they can avoid surrendering to the cathedral intellectually in the next decade or so. This may sound easy considering how the West is declining at what seems like a faster pace, but the Chinese send plenty of their wealthier citizens to American universities. Land cites this in posts where he points out how the Chinese will still cite people's consent or democracy as the legitimate form of government. They fall into that frame rather than denying democracy the stature as an aspirational form of government.
Democracy is just a form of government. The great secret to America's success was ever expanding space to settle and spread out, and the strength of our private industry and institutions while the public sphere was weak. In the history of man, democracy is a very weak and unstable form of government.