One learns by accretion, and these difficulties ought not prove insurmountable. Mark Edward Lewis—whatever his organizational principle—has a lot to place in his compass. After his overview, possibly I will be inspired to delve more deeply into specific topics. As I have mentioned, I regret the unavailability (to me) of Eastern Zhou translated by K.C. Chang. It would have covered some of the presumed background.
In the meantime, I have let myself become easily distracted, reading several of the essays in Theater of Cruelty by Ian Buruma. He too is an engaging writer, but the title is somewhat misleading—the pieces are not particularly about theater, or even cruelty for that matter, but more loosely "man's inhumanity to man" in a historical context, and a recent one at that. So you find something about Anne Frank's legacy; or living in Paris under the German occupation. Later on I note there's a piece about David Bowie.
I'm not so interested to read it all; and the matter seems so sporadic and haphazard that I take it to be an assemblage of various recent reviews, say in The New York Review of Books (just a guess).
Eastern Zhou has only gone up in price from the online vendors since I first looked at it: nearly $100 is being asked. At this point I am skipping ahead and hoping that the pieces will all fall into place. In the meantime, I've laid my hands on The Evolution of Urban Society because Chang mentioned it in a his closing summation. Something I will glance at not feeling an obligation to read: the comparison of Early Mesopotamia and Prehispanic Mexico.
As I've stated previously, especially when it comes to certain subjects as archeology or anthropology, I don't mind having my information a little bit outdated: if it may have been superceded, I hope that the older text might be clearer to me than newer writing (reflective of newer interests) might be.
I've had Mumford on the city sitting on my shelf for a long time: a famous book by one of my favorite authors. But it felt like I had reached my saturation point a while back; and in some cases, as with Mark Edwards Lewis on Qin and Han, sometimes I do want a text that reflects recent scholarship.