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The Manchus

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0631235910
ISBN-10: 0631235914
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Editorial Reviews


"Pamela Crossley's The Manchus is the book that those interested in China's last dynasty have always needed. Through her clear, erudite, and succinct presentation, we are led to understand the origins of Manchu social organization, the formation of a Manchu ethnicity, and the implementation of a specifically Manchu view of universal empire. We also see the loss of purpose and erosion of self-confidence that led to the dynasty's collapse in 1912." Jonathan Spence, Yale University

From the Back Cover

For centuries the Manchurian peoples inhabited a cultural and economic world that made them sometime enemies, sometimes allies, of neighboring Chinese, Koreans, Mongols, and Russians. Between 1636 and 1700 this picture changed dramatically. The Manchus united and conquered the whole of China and Mongolia. A century later they added Tibet and Eastern Turkistan, Creating one of the largest land empires in history. How they achieved this, and what the consequences were to themselves and to their subjects, are the main themes of this book.

After an account of the early fishing and hunting communities in eastern Asia, the author describes the period of early urbanization, literacy, and empire-building in medieval Manchuria, and the constant struggle over five centuries to maintain independence against the great power of the Mongols, Chinese, and Russians. She investigates the origins and rise of the great leader, Nurgachi, and shows how he succeeded in founding the first Manchu state.

In 1636, ten years after Nurgachi’s death, his descendants declared themselves to masters of the Qing Empire, and from 1644 to 1912 the Manchus were among those conquerors of China who were "conquered" by it, and revels the subtle ways in which the rulers used a Chinese mask to achieve their ends (and to confuse European visitors).

The final chapters show the role of the West and Japan, in the undermining of Qing authority in the nineteenth century and in the sporadic attempts to restore it in the twentieth. The author considers the fate of the contemporary Manchu minority in China and examines the signs of a resurgent identity.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 260 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (June 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631235914
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631235910
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,141,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Pamela Kyle Crossley is a historian of the Qing empire, Central Asia, and global history, whose books have been translated into Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. In Chinese and modern history she has pursued the questions of origins of modern identities, particularly their relationship to institutions of imperial rule in the early modern period. Her new history of China since 1800, The Wobbling Pivot, has been noted for its original interpretations of modern Chinese history as the product, to large degree, of changing relations between the central government and coherent structures of local management. In global history, she is co-author of the best-selling text, The Earth and its Peoples, and of Global Society: The World since 1900, as well as the a short study of narrative strategies in global history, What Is Global History? She is professor of history at Dartmouth College.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rev Laurel on June 3, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Read your typical history book covering Chinese history and you'll get a very distinct picture of the Jurchens and Manchus--about their conquest of china, the corruption of the Qing government (as if no other dynasty had corruption), of the power-hungry Aisio-gioro Nurgaci, founder of the Qing dynasty, and their alien, steppe-nomadic ways. Most Chinese history books have little good or substantive to say about this north-east Asian culture whose term for their religious priesthood was adopted by the West, "Shaman" (Chinese, "saman").

This book takes all that mythology and anti-Manchu rehtoric and blasts it to pieces with a compelling story of a people who have rarely been studied objectively and as a culture separate from the Mongols and Chinese. Nurgaci was not the man of the myths we've heard and never called himself Emperor. In fact for most of his life his title was "beile of the Jianzhou Jurchens". He was a great lord and chieftain of his lineage, but not even an autocrat in his authority, ruling jointly with his brother, Surgaci, for many years.

Besides the myths about Nuragi, many cultural myths are also dispelled. One major one is the assumption that the Manchus were nomads with a steppe culture analogous to the Mongol culture. This book explains how and why this assumption is wrong and is essential to anyone who wants to know the real Manchu people.

I'm only 3 chapters into the book and already know I need to reread it. there's a lot of information for the student of Jurchen and Manchu history!

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "wkzmed" on May 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
I visited to pick up the paperback of this book, and saw this perplexing comment below. This book and The Last Emperor are apples and oranges. This is a popular book (I got my original copy from History Book Club) and intended for reader's with a general interest, or maybe beginning historians. The book by Evelyn S. Rawski is an academic title, very thorough and erudite. But also the books are not on the same subject. Rawski is about the Manchu emperors, their courts and palaces. The Manchus is much more general. Please do not get confused into thinking that these two books are on the same subject.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By laurens van den muyzenberg on April 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Pamela Kyle Crossley tells a fascinating story about the rise and fall of the Manchu empire. It is hard to believe, yet a fact that a 120.000 Manchu troops conquered all of China. It is as amazing that the Manchus were able to rule China for 267 years (1644 -1911). Some important conclusions are as follows.
The conquest succeeded because the preceding Ming rulers had become very incompetent, because the Manchus were outstanding warriors with excellent military and political strategic capabilities and several outstanding leaders. The Manchus succeeded to attract prominent dissatisfied Han Chinese to join them already during the conquest of China. The Manchus were able to maintain control over China by maintaining the Chinese administrative system where government employees were recruited based on competitive selection based on civil service examinations. Every man wanted to pass the examinations as it led to prestige and fortune. The Civil servants remained loyal to the Manchu rulers. The Manchu emperors also saw to it that no local regional or aristocratic elite could build an independent base of power. The Manchus furthered equal treatment of Han Chinese. Mongols and Manchus as a general policy. However several times a quota system was implemented that fixed the proportion of Manchu, Han Chinese and Mongols that should pass the examination. At the higher levels of government Han Chinese were always paired with Manchus.
The Manchus were eager learners and studied Chinese philosophy, culture and adapted several parts of it. However, the Manchus maintained a separate identity, forbade intermarriage between Han Chinese and Manchus, the Han Chinese were forbidden to move into Manchuria, and the Manchus forbade foot binding of their women.
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