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The Art of Doing Good: Charity in Late Ming China Hardcover – March 11, 2009

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The Art of Doing Good: Charity in Late Ming China + From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State: Fraternal Societies and Social Services, 1890-1967
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Editorial Reviews


“[Smith] convincingly proves that charity was a vibrant motivation for many in [the Ming] period.”
(Chinese Cross Currents 2010-07-06)

“Few if any equals in the scholarly studies of the actual working of local politics in late imperial China.”
(Joseph McDermott Journal Of Chinese Studies 2010-07-01)

“This is an extraordinary book which, in addition to adding a wealth of detail on life at the local level to the existing literature on the late Ming, also offers sophisticated analysis of the diaries on which it is largely based.”
(Andrea Janku Bltn Of Sch Of Oriental & African Stds 2010-09-07)

“This volume raises a great number of relevant questions with regard to China today.”
(Andre Laliberte, translated by Jonathan Hall China Perspectives 2010-08-11)

“The book adds. . . to our understanding of charity in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century China, but also to our broader grasp of Ming society.”
(Chinese Historical Review)

“An extraordinary book.”
(Andrea Janku Bltn Of Sch Of Oriental & African Stds 2011-07-06)

“A contribution to the study of premodern China’s social elite . . . the book deepens our understanding of gentry identity.”
(Helen Dunstan American Historical Review 2010-04-01)

“An important, well-researched book that fills a void left by the lack of similar publications on this topic.”
(V. J. Symons Choice 2009-09-01)

From the Inside Flap

"In her study of the rise of charities amidst the late-Ming crises, Joanna Handlin Smith has marshaled so many interesting and rare sources that she is able as few before to give life and especially depth to a large and diverse group of remarkable people. This landmark book on one of the most exciting periods in Chinese history makes you all the more sorry that the Ming dynasty collapsed despite so much devotion and talent."—Pierre-Étienne Will, Collège de France

"In her absorbing accounts of both big events and small, Joanna Handlin Smith has anchored her narrative in original research, producing a work of admirable scholarly care and ingenuity. This fine study, attentive as much to the complex of moral ideals underlying them as to the detailed practices of early modern famine relief and benevolent societies, will make a lasting contribution to our understanding of charity as performed in Chinese contexts."—Vivienne Shue, Oxford University

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