Warfare in Chinese History


Our understanding of Chinese warfare has suffered from misconstrued contrasts between Chinese and Western ways in warfare. This is one of the arguments convincingly set forth in this important volume on an important subject. It also discusses the essentialising interpretations of Chinese culture focussing on the avoidance of warfare and the civil ethic of its officials.
Based on original sources, and dealing with the subject from the earliest dynasty up to modernity, it uniquely combines chapters on strategy and tactics. Both scope and approach make it a must for historians of China. And, with a view to its conclusions on the place of China in the context of global military history, it also provides essential reading for historians of (comparative) warfare in general.
The book’s primary goal – to provide a fuller interpretation of the role of the military in Chinese history – has been achieved with ease.

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Hans van de Ven, Ph.D. (1987) in History and East Asian Languages, Harvard University, is Lecturer in Chinese Studies at Cambridge University. He has published extensively on warfare in Chinese history.
'...this collection sheds new light on warfare in Chinese history. It will force the reader to abandon many preconceptions and drastically modify what is not abandoned. It shows that China, contrary to many Western assumptions, has not been a military failure and empirically hammers this point home...This is an important book and will broaden the horizons of everyone who troubles to read it.'
Lewis Bernstein, Military History, 2001.
'…builds toward an essential goal of this book, that is, to provide a case study in the integration of archeological, textual, and anthropological areas of inquiry, for it is only within this framework that a more complete picture of the socio-political dynamics of the southern Levant during this period can emerge in a vital and stimulating way.'
Annual Egyptological Bibliography, 2001.
The publication of Warfare in Chinese History is a major development in the study of Chinese military history…It, in the coming years, scholarship emerges that challenges the assumptions and interpretations and expands upon the research in these essays, we can judge that Warfare in Chinese History is not simply a very good book but an important one as well.'
Richard S. Horowitz, CHMS Newsletter, 2002.
This book is a must for historians of contemporary and traditional China, and of Chinese and comparative warfare.
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