Well, that would be the previous century. (I’m not yet used to thinking that way either.)
Two books that might be of interest: The Rise of Modern China, by Immanuel C.Y. Hsu (with an umlaut), and In Search of Modern China, by Jonathan Spence, who is usually a good choice regardless of the book.
Both of those go back into the Qing but focus mainly on the period since then. Hsu’s book (3rd edition) came out in 1983 and Spence’s in 1990; there may be more recent editions. You might also check out the relevant Cambridge histories. None of these books I’ve mentioned, however, is light reading; they’re all quite long. That’s China for ya.
For the whole history, I don’t know.
Another book I picked up recently that I thought was excellent is The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China, by Timothy Brook. My copy was NT$360 at Chenping (Eslite).
I hope I’ll be forgiven taking advantage of this opportunity to plug my site, which has the complete texts of eleven books and portions of two others: http://www.romanization.com/books/
They’re old but still useful.