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The Establishment of the Han Empire and Imperial China (Greenwood Guides to Historic Events of the Ancient World) annotated edition Edition

4 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0313325885
ISBN-10: 031332588X
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-The establishment of the Han Empire, solidifying the Qin unification of the warring states, is of paramount importance in the history of China, and arguably, in world history. This excellent introduction to that dynastic period devotes separate chapters to the political, institutional, technological, and social ramifications of the era. The final chapter is one of the most interesting and important: in an interpretive essay the writers consider the cultural and political consequences of the Han Empire in East Asia, make comparisons (especially to Rome and Persia), and look ahead to post-Han China. A few pages suggest a reevaluation of the First Emperor, arguing that he might have been unfairly vilified by Han apologists. There are 20 biographies, 14 primary-source documents, several time lines, a brief glossary, a bibliography (including film, Internet, and curriculum guides), and a mere 16 black-and-white artifact photos or line drawings. Some information is repeated, but given the complexity of the material, this is rather a bonus. The writing is engaging and not pedantic. This volume, very much focused on the Western or Former Han (the Xin and later Han are dealt with in two sentences only), is a promising eastward expansion of this series on the ancient world.-Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI
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Review

"China's Han Dynasty created a prosperous empire from 206 BCE to CE 221, promoting a less harsh society than that of their Quin predecessors and developing technological advancements from the water mill to stoneware and paper. From elements of social change in Han times to kingdom problems and issues, its role in world society and politics, and its importance in establishing centralized control in Asia, ^IThe Establishment of the Han Empire and Imperial China^R is essential reading for any college-level scholar who would understand the importance of this developmental period." - MBR Bookwatch

"The establishment of the Han Empire, solidifying the Qin unification of the warring states, is of paramount importance in the history of China, and arguably, in world history. This excellent introduction to that dynastic period devotes separate chapters to the political, institutional, technological, and social ramifications of the era….The writing is engaging and not pedantic. This volume, very much focused on the Western or Former Han (the Xin and later Han are dealt with in two sentences only), is a promising eastward expansion of this series on the ancient world." - School Library Journal
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Product Details

  • Series: Greenwood Guides to Historic Events of the Ancient World
  • Hardcover: 220 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwood; annotated edition edition (March 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031332588X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0313325885
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,379,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
This is a very nice summary of materials on Han China. My only concern is that it is too brief.

The first section is an excellent, but brief (50 page), recap of Chinese history from Shang to foundation of the Han dynasty. The material takes something of a western narrative form. Some might argue that pre-Han China history cannot be understood in terms of European feudalism, but I think it will interest most western readers and that is the point of an introductory work.

The next section tries to cover an even grander topic: Han political science. Again, it is nothing if not brief, but does an excellent job of hitting the main points. The chapter makes the point that Han China represented a balance of 3 major philosophic trends: Confucianism, Taoism, and legalism. Though the material on each is entirely too brief, the reader will find the narrative easy to read. One of the interesting themes is a description of the Han government in terms of 3 branches: military, bureaucracy and 'censorate' (a spy agency that watched both for the emperor). A parallel power structure existed in the emperor's harem (inner-court). At times the eunuchs and women there could control the emperor enough to be effective masters of the government. The bibliography has many suggestions for additional reading.

The third section on Chinese industry and technology, with an emphasis comparing the relative states of European and Chinese arts during the Han era.

The rest of the book covers a broad set of topics which I would summarize as an extended and illustrated notes/bibliography. For example, one section is a set of about 50 extended quotes from Han and pre-Han documents.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book really has little to recommend it. Judging from the title you'd be forgiven for thinking that it was an analysis of the changes that China went through in the transition from the Qin Empire and into the Han. That is nominally what it attempts to do. But it also tries to be a beginner book in Chinese history. And an introduction to Chinese philosophy. And a listing of the significant figures from the period. And in covering all this it misses what seems like its main goal. What exactly changed when the Han came in? I left the book wondering that and I realized that I would have to search elsewhere. Certainly it covers what changed under the Qin, at least in very basic terms. But since it doesn't bother to explain what came before it's hard to recognize which elements were changed and which were always there. The Warring States period is barely covered, which should be essential in an introductory text. It covers the events of the period in 26 pages. The first emperor of Han takes up six of them. The Warring States takes up two. The rest is all Qin.

To show how uninformative this book is I'm going to describe the organization and contents in some detail. As I said previously the narrative of events takes up only 26 pages and while easy to follow it is very vague. There are 21 pages on the government of China during the Han, a period which I must mention, was not covered in the narrative. Next up are 14 pages on technological innovation. This would be better termed philosophies or world views because most of the technical innovation under the Han came later. It's basically a brief overview of the five elements and how people farmed. The final relevant chapter has 19 pages on the social system.
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Format: Hardcover
China's Han Dynasty created a prosperous empire from 206 BCE to CE 221, promoting a less harsh society than that of their Quin predecessors and developing technological advancements from the water mill to stoneware and paper. From elements of social change in Han times to kingdom problems and issues, its role in world society and politics, and its importance in establishing centralized control in Asia, THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE HAN EMPIRE AND IMPERIAL CHINA is essential reading for any college-level scholar who would understand the importance of this developmental period.
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