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China Between Empires: The Northern and Southern Dynasties
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China Between Empires: The Northern and Southern Dynasties (History of Imperial China #2)

3.7  ·  Rating Details ·  66 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
After the collapse of the Han dynasty in the third century A.D., China divided along a north-south line. Mark Lewis traces the changes that both underlay and resulted from this split in a period that saw the geographic redefinition of China, more engagement with the outside world, significant changes to family life, developments in the literary and social arenas, and the i ...more
Hardcover, 258 pages
Published February 1st 2009 by Belknap Press (first published February 15th 2008)
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Mar 22, 2013 Hadrian rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, nonfiction, china
This second volume in the series on the History of Imperial China, stretching roughly from 220 AD to the end of the Sui in 618. This is an exceedingly complex period to describe, as there is seldom a unified empire or dynasty to follow here. The early parts of this period are described in the famous Romance of the Three Kingdoms, but there are times when there not just three, but ten to sixteen competing polities north of the Yangtze River.

Thankfully, Lewis has aimed for a broadly thematic appr
Bryn Hammond
Mar 13, 2014 Bryn Hammond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: steppe-history
Mark Edward Lewis has become one of my most trusted guides on Chinese history. As I attempt to make my way through his heavy-duty books on the emergence of the state and its appurtenances (Sanctioned Violence in Early China, Writing and Authority in Early China) I can also bask in the entries he has in this wide-audience series.

I found the political history incisive, and then the large coverage of culture and society (this series known for its themed chapters) felt like a close-up look at actua
Melissa  Jeanette
Mar 22, 2013 Melissa Jeanette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-texts, history
I've read both this and Early Chinese Empires and I recommend them highly. One thing to note while reading, is that it's helpful to keep referring to the timeline in the back of the book, since Lewis doesn't write chronologically. At first I thought his thematic approach a little odd and I was more than a little confused. However, by the end of each book, I found the chronology and the major places, people, and events had sunk in somewhere along the way without my realizing it. I would say this ...more
Atul Rao
Jan 25, 2017 Atul Rao rated it really liked it
A detailed description of an era not discussed in Chinese history as much as clear dynastic societies. Important to get a clear picture of historical continuity. Would have preferred a more linear approach in terms of timeline.
This was another excellent book by Mark Lewis. It was the same style and his book on the Qin and the Han but looking at the period of disunion that followed. I think the one thing that struck with me the most while doing my MA was how important the period of disunion between the Han and the Sui was. This was the time where Buddhism and Taoism really began to take hold. There was a strengthening of culture within the south and contributions from the "barbarians" in the north. I borrowed this book ...more
Aug 02, 2012 Jonathan rated it it was amazing
China went through a period of disunity and transition in the 3rd to the late 6th centuries CE. This era saw the introduction of Buddhism, the large-scale settlement of the Yangtze basin and innovations in literature, land usage and political systems, not least because northern China was partially under the control of "barbarian" ruling houses, while the south saw a series of what we would call warlords in charge. Professor Lewis describes these and other changes, painting a relatively brief and ...more
Sep 06, 2013 James rated it liked it
Very interesting book. I like the way a pronunciation guide is provided in the back of the book as well as a chronology timetable. My knowledge of Chinese history is very limited consequently this book as well as the previous book in this series (also by Mark Edward Lewis) helped to enlighten me.
I think the primary point to remember in this period of Chinese history is how Buddhism and Taoism so greatly influenced the period, thereby usurping some of Confucianism stronghold in China.
Apr 03, 2010 Alex rated it really liked it
It's cool that the political history is pretty evenly divided into the first three chapters (one on sanguo; another on jin + 16 kingdoms; a third on N and S dynasties; and a sui-ish conclusion) ; otherwise it'd be too much to handle all at once.

A good balance between info-dump and arranging said info-dump into convincing little narrative/argumentative chunks. Both the details and the arc. That's what I like about these.
The second in the series picks up where Lewis left off, at the end of the Han. This volume covers the period between 220-618 CE. However, for those interested in narrative history, this book will disappoint. For those interested in the major changes and transformations that occurred in Chinese society at the time, this book will be greatly appreciated.
Nov 22, 2012 Ayu rated it it was amazing
I already had basic knowledge of Chinese history, and this book filled in some of the gaps that I had. I especially enjoyed the section on Buddhism and Daoism. Can't wait to read the rest of the series.
Julian Haigh
Jun 08, 2015 Julian Haigh rated it it was ok
The worst of the series but I don't know if it's because providing an overall account of the broken up Han is near impossible or what. The book covers changes in city-scape, family ties, and religion interestingly but is hardly an all-encompassing synopsis.
Mar 10, 2012 Huub rated it it was ok
I think the reader needs to know about Chinese history, before reading this book.
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Other Books in the Series

History of Imperial China (6 books)
  • The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han
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