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The Song dynasty (960–1279) has been characterized by its pre-eminent civil culture and military weakness. This groundbreaking work demonstrates that the civil dominance of the eleventh century was the product of a half-century of continuous warfare and ruthless political infighting. The spectacular culture of the eleventh century, one of the high points in Chinese history, was built on the bloody foundation of the conquests of the tenth century. Peter Lorge examines how, rather than a planned and inevitable reunification of the Chinese empire, the foundation of the Song was an uncertain undertaking, dependent upon highly contingent battles, both military and political, whose outcome was always in doubt. Song civil culture grew out of the successful military campaigns that created the dynasty and, as the need for war and armies diminished, the need for civil officials grew. The Song dynasty's successful waging of war led ultimately to peace.Read more
- Proposes a new view of the Song dynasty's foundation, demonstrating the importance of war and politics in imperial China
- Illustrates the importance of war in Chinese history, providing a real and understandable account of how war created a major dynasty
- Examines how political and military power interacted in the creation of an imperial government and how statesmen used these tools to advance themselves
Reviews & endorsements
"The Reunification of China offers a richly detailed narrative on the founding of the Song empire, tracing its origins in the Five Dynasties and extending forward to the critical turn toward civilian rule during the second and third reigns. The reader is reminded of the centrality of war to politics and simultaneously the serendipity of history in the absence of grand plans. Peter Lorge has shed invaluable light on this important period of transition, which in turn enriches our understanding of the broader history of China's middle period."
Richard L. Davis, Lingnan UniversitySee more reviews
"This book challenges the conventional narrative of medieval Chinese history in which the Song dynasty founders ended the chaos of the Five Dynasties period in 960 because they offered a new model of governance based on civil rather than military values. Lorge's deeper look into early Song history makes a major contribution to the military history of China."
Charles Hartman, University at Albany, State University of New York
"This is the fullest account in any Western language of the political and military dimensions of the founding of the Song dynasty in 960 and the decades-long process of its consolidation and stabilisation, culminating in 1005. I doubt any Sinologist in the Western world knows more about tenth-century China than Lorge, and his meticulous and penetrating monograph on it will stand as the standard work for our time."
David Curtis Wright, University of Calgary
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- Date Published: March 2018
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781107446793
- length: 309 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 17 mm
- weight: 0.418kg
- contains: 32 maps
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
2. Historiography, methodology, and Song military and political history
3. The pivot of the tenth century
4. Rebuilding the empire
5. The army and the creation of the Song dynasty
6. Personal politics and the campaigns of conquest
7. Separating war and politics
8. Fighting to become emperor
9. Failure and rebellion
10. The end of the beginning
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