Ming China, 1368-1644: A Concise History of a Resilient Empire (Critical Issues in World and International History)

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9781442204911: Ming China, 1368-1644: A Concise History of a Resilient Empire (Critical Issues in World and International History)

This engaging, deeply informed book provides the first concise history of one of China's most important eras. Leading scholar John W. Dardess offers a thematically organized political, social, and economic exploration of China from 1368 to 1644. He examines how the Ming dynasty was able to endure for 276 years, illuminating Ming foreign relations and border control, the lives and careers of its sixteen emperors, its system of governance and the kinds of people who served it, its great class of literati, and finally the mass outlawry that, in unhappy conjunction with the Manchu invasions from outside, ended the once-mighty dynasty in the mid-seventeenth century. The Ming dynasty witnessed the beginning of China's contact with the West, and its story will fascinate all readers interested in global as well as Asian history.

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About the Author:

John W. Dardess is professor emeritus of history at the University of Kansas.

Review:

Dardess’s achievement is that he has condensed the whole story into a neat book under 150 pages long. . . . Dardess’s focus on why the Ming dynasty endured, as opposed to why it failed, is both refreshing and necessary. . . . Ming China will inspire the student and challenge the specialist and is thus a very positive contribution. (Journal of Asian Studies)

In this deft, elegant overview of the Ming Dynasty, Dardess (Univ. of Kansas), one of the most eminent living scholars of the period, effortlessly compresses over two and a half centuries of history into a mere 148 pages of text, including notes for further reading. Five chapters cover the Ming empire from its frontiers to its center, and from the apex of power down to the level of bandits and outlaws. Dardess argues that the dynasty was a powerful and enduring polity whose culture was shaped by the chronic steppe threat on its northern border and the efforts of the literati at the center of society to adapt to changing economic and political realities. . . . The single best introduction to the Ming Dynasty available. An excellent starting point for those interested in the period. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. (CHOICE)

An entirely original and fresh recounting of Ming history. The genius of the work is in its innovative organization, which economically structures the story into five lively chapters that build logically one upon the other to move vertically down the strata of Ming society while developing a chronological narrative within each chapter. This much-needed book will appeal both to general readers and to students of Chinese history and culture. (Edward L. Farmer, University of Minnesota)

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