The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han

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Harvard University Press, 2010 M10 30 - 321 pages
In 221 bc the First Emperor of Qin unified the lands that would become the heart of a Chinese empire. Though forged by conquest, this vast domain depended for its political survival on a fundamental reshaping of Chinese culture. With this informative book, we are present at the creation of an ancient imperial order whose major features would endure for two millennia. The Qin and Han constitute the "classical period" of Chinese history--a role played by the Greeks and Romans in the West. Mark Edward Lewis highlights the key challenges faced by the court officials and scholars who set about governing an empire of such scale and diversity of peoples. He traces the drastic measures taken to transcend, without eliminating, these regional differences: the invention of the emperor as the divine embodiment of the state; the establishment of a common script for communication and a state-sponsored canon for the propagation of Confucian ideals; the flourishing of the great families, whose domination of local society rested on wealth, landholding, and elaborate kinship structures; the demilitarization of the interior; and the impact of non-Chinese warrior-nomads in setting the boundaries of an emerging Chinese identity. The first of a six-volume series on the history of imperial China, The Early Chinese Empires illuminates many formative events in China's long history of imperialism--events whose residual influence can still be discerned today.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - stillatim - LibraryThing

I have never felt so much the dirty, smelly Westerner that I am as while I was reading the opening chapters of this book. While my ancestors were eating chestnuts, probably raw, and fighting a rear ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jonfaith - LibraryThing

This is smart but austere survey of the first two dynasties of China, dating from 221 BC to 220 AD. The Qin and Han Dynasties arose from the bedlam of the Warring States, a sort of perpetual civil war ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
1 The Geography of Empire
5
2 A State Organized for War
30
3 The Paradoxes of Empire
51
4 Imperial Cities
75
5 Rural Society
102
6 The Outer World
128
7 Kinship
155
9 Literature
206
10 Law
227
Conclusion
253
Dates and Usage
267
Acknowledgments
270
Notes
271
Bibliography
292
Index
309

8 Religion
178

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About the author (2010)

Doctor and author Robin Cook is widely credited with introducing the word ‘medical’ to the thriller genre, and over twenty years after the publication of his breakthrough novel, Coma, he continues to dominate the category he created. Cook has successfully combined medical fact with fiction to produce over twenty-seven international bestsellers, including Outbreak (1987), Terminal (1993), Contagion (1996) and most recently Cure (2011).

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