In Doing Good and Ridding Evil in Ming China: The Political Career of Wang Yangming, George Israel offers an account of this influential Neo-Confucian philosopher’s official career and military campaigns. While his contribution to China’s intellectual history and the outlines of his political life are well known, the relation between his thought and what he did in his capacity as a Ming official has been given less attention.
Prior writing on Wang Yangming has passed judgment on his ideas by either idealizing or condemning him for how he treated those he was assigned to govern. Through a detailed reconstruction of his career in the context of issues of empire, ethnicity, and violence, George Israel demonstrates that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
George Lawrence Israel, Ph.D. (2008), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies at Middle Georgia State College. He has published several articles on Chinese history.
'This is a most welcome addition to the bookshelf of Chinese history. (..) Israel has thoroughly combed the original sources and has engaged much of the recent scholarship on Wang in English, Chinese, and Japanese. He has also brought in current theory as it relates to various questions that emerge aboutWang’s activities. (...) Israel puts Wang Yangming’s career into a contemporary idiom, and effectively attunes it to the way in which history is usually approached these days.'
JOHN W. DARDESS, (University of Kansas), Ming Studies, 73 (2016)
All interested in the history of Late Imperial China and Neo-Confucian thought, and specialists and students more specifically concerned with the political and military history of the Ming Dynasty and Wang Yangming.