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Great State

China and the World

Timothy Brook



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14 September 2021
China is one of the oldest states in the world. It achieved its approximate current borders with the Ascendancy of the Yuan dynasty in the 13th century, and despite the passing of one Imperial dynasty to the next, it has maintained them for the eight centuries since. Even the European colonial powers at the height of their power could not move past coastal enclaves. Thus, China remained China through the Ming, the Qing, the Republic, the Occupation, and Communism.

But, despite the desires of some of the most powerful people in the Great State through the ages, China has never been alone in the world. It has had to contend with invaders from the steppe and the challenges posed by foreign traders and imperialists. Indeed, its rulers for the majority of the last eight centuries have not been Chinese.

Timothy Brook examines China's relationship with the world from the Yuan through to the present by following the stories of ordinary and extraordinary people navigating the spaces where China met and meets the world. Bureaucrats, horse traders, spiritual leaders, explorers, pirates, emperors, invaders, migrant workers, traitors, and visionaries: this is a history of China as no one has told it before.
Imprint:   Profile
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Edition:   Main
Dimensions:   Height: 198mm,  Width: 129mm,  Spine: 28mm
Weight:   411g
ISBN:   9781781258293
ISBN 10:   1781258295
Pages:   464
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Timothy Brook was Shaw Professor of Chinese at Oxford when he first saw the Selden Map, and is now professor of history at the University of British Columbia. The author of eight books on Chinese history, including Vermeer's Hat and Mr Selden's Map of China, which are both published by Profile.

Reviews for Great State: China and the World

Brook's vigorous account [...] Great State offers some compelling lessons for today, and for all our futures. * New Statesman * Praise for Vermeer's Hat : Spell-binding ... as a guide to the world behind the pictures Vermeer's Hat is mind-expanding. * Sunday Times * A brilliant attempt to make us understand the reach and breadth of the first global age * Guardian * Brook takes you into the paintings in a way that can be spookily intimate * Evening Standard * An erudite, surprising book that finds traces of swashbuckling where you'd least expect * Daily Telegraph * Truly mesmerising. In this accessible but authoritative study, he... shows better than anyone I've read so far, the truly subversive power of detail * Independent * Praise for Mr Selden's Map of China: The great charm of this book lies not only in its illustrative, erudite detail but in the serendipity that regularly seizes Brook and adds spice to a spellbinding story. * the Times * The quest is fascinating and picaresque, a sort of cartographical Tristram Shandy with a sure-handed narrator steering us from Ming dynasty China to pre-Civil War Oxford to the Spice Islands of South-East Asia. * Sunday Telegraph * Excellent ... The power of this book lies partly in the fact that Brook does not overstate his case. While he does not seek to claim that China's current actions are prefigured by the past, an attentive reader cannot fail to notice extraordinary parallels * Financial Times * Timothy Brook's Great State puts forward an elegant and compelling argument for why we should look at the cosmopolitan part of the Chinese mind-set as well. * Literary Review * What a pleasure to read a significant, original book that covers millennia of Chinese history in an informal, often chatty, but always learned style. * Times Higher Education * Scattered across the maps and paintings that Brook invokes, his thirteen encounters take in pirates, merchants, soldiers, traders, explorers, emperors and spiritual leaders - characters in China's complex trade, military, spiritual and political relationships down the centuries. Brook unravels the threads of these relationships across a canvas of war, friendship, savage struggles for power, lethal epidemic disease, triumph and calamity. It is a dizzying and exhilarating journey. * New Statesman *

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