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Landscape and Power in Early China: The Crisis and Fall of the Western Zhou 1045-771 BC 0th Edition

5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521852722
ISBN-10: 0521852722
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Editorial Reviews


'I found Landscape and Power in Early China to be one of the best scholarly works I have read in recent years ... this is a prime example of a study that is highly professional in addressing all the minute details of its subject matter but, on the other hand, illuminates the broad picture in a way that is accessible to a much larger audience. Li Feng should be commended for providing a coherent discussion that should become essential reading for all students of Chinese history. It will also be used, I hope, in comparative frameworks by scholars working on other periods and in other parts of the world.' The Journal of Asian Studies

Book Description

This book addresses the relationship between geography and political power in the context of the crisis and fall of the Western Zhou dynasty. Exploring the latest archaeological discoveries, it shows how inscribed bronze vessels can be used to reveal changes in political space, and how archaeology, history and geography can work together to produce a coherent understanding of the Bronze Age past. Embracing an interdisciplinary approach and enhanced by full coverage of sources, the book reinterprets late Western Zhou history and questions the causes of its decline and fall.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (September 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521852722
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521852722
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.9 x 9.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,831,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Louis Petrillo on March 13, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very solidly written book about a period that later Chinese idealized as a golden age. The author does a very credible job collating ancient Chinese writings, the inscriptions on bronzes from the period, and other archaeological evidence to produce a consistent picture of the era. The only other work on the period that I've read is _ The Cambridge History of Ancient China _. My only (mild) complaint is that the writing is not exactly scintillating. Also he never really gives a good portrait of the Zhou's "barbarian" adversaries.
Probably the single most interesting tidbit is the study of the role of the "wicked concubine" Bao Si in the fall of the dynasty. In the traditional histories she appears as a femme fatale. The author shows convincingly that it was the king's fault mainly, first in dismissing his father's advisors, and second in disinheriting his first heir in favor of Bao Si's son. It was the first heir's grandfather who led the invasion of the royal capital along with "barbarian" allies that overthrew the dynasty. He also quotes extensively from the _ Shi Jing _ (Poetry Classic) including a poem that Blakney quotes in his introduction to his translation of the _ Dao De Jing _.
The final tidbit is that in the matter of Bao Si it's SiMa Qian in his _Shi Ji _ (Historical Records) who got it wrong. Usually he's considered one of the best sources on early China. It's like finding that Thucydides was wrong in a major incident during the Peloponesian War.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Johanna on October 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a splendid tour de force of historical and textual analysis. Armed with a vast knowledge of China, the author retells the history of one of its most fascinating dynasties, shattering not a few myths along the way. He makes his case masterfully, and by the end the reader is left with a deep and abiding feeling of satisfaction.

Yet surprisingly enough for a book as dense as this one, it reads like a thriller, complete with perplexing mysteries, royal intrigue, and a fantastic cast of characters. I was able to read most of it in one sitting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By kkbs on September 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Honestly said, I expected a rather dry and scholarly book, but since I am interested in the topic I ordered the book nonetheless,
The more I was surprised to find this book very well written (in particular since presumably written by a non-native speaker) and really interesting.
Li Feng gives a conclusive overview of the Western Zhou history, focussing on their core territory in central Shaanxi and on their constant warfare with their barbarian Western neighbours, which finally leads to their virtual expulsion from their native Wei river valley and to the continuation of the dynasty in Eastern China as Eastern Zhou. The clou of this book is that the author not just draws from classical texts, but also conclusively challenges these with the actual geographical settings and with inscriptions on contemporary bronze vessels, many of which were discovered only recently. This approach on the one side fills some gaps in the Western Zhou history, while on the other hand it leads to new interpretations of the classical texts.
While the author at times goes very much into details (in particular when it comes to his discussion of place names it is sometimes hard to follow when you are not an expert on Chinese geography), the book remains well readable. It contains many maps (certainly several dozens, which under consideration of the Focus of the book is reasonable), a 30 pages bibliography, and - most remarkably - three appendices on particular aspects of the Western Zhou. The first appendix, a very strong 42 pages summary of Western Zhou Expansion in the East, South and North, would nearly deserve to become a book of its own.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Philip Leetch on July 17, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the best books I have read on Chinese history. The writer has a strong thesis to put forward and defends it in an exemplary way with reference to bronze vessel inscriptions, historical writing, geography and common sense. Many things fall into place as one reads and one is left with a fine sense of intellectual satisfaction.
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By Russael on November 3, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fabulous book. If you want a detailed look at the geography of Zhou, this is a great place to start. Lovely maps. I grabbed them onto my desktop for easier reference. Book combines bronze ding inscriptions with book of songs with received history texts to retell the ancient history of this dynasty. I loved this book. It came to me at just the right time in my exploration of this period.
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