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The Age of Confucian Rule: The Song Transformation of China (History of Imperial China #4)

4.23  ·  Rating Details ·  47 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
Just over a thousand years ago, the Song dynasty emerged as the most advanced civilization on earth. Within two centuries, China was home to nearly half of all humankind. In this concise history, we learn why the inventiveness of this era has been favorably compared with the European Renaissance, which in many ways the Song transformation surpassed.

With the chaotic dissolu
Hardcover, 356 pages
Published March 1st 2009 by Belknap Press
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Apr 28, 2014 Hadrian rated it really liked it

A consort of the Zhenzong Emperor. Note the elaborate headdress with miniature figures inside.

The Song Dynasty does not have a good reputation. In military terms, it was perceived as a time of weakness. The kingdom was harassed by the Khitan and Turgut tribes in the north, invaded by the Jurchens, who took Beijing and split the country in two, and then finally overrun by the Mongols entirely by 1279.

Dieter Kuhn presents an alternative view in this volume, the fourth in the series on the history
I must admit when I put this book on my wish list I hadn't paid very close attention. I thought it was going to be a scholarly, intellectual history particularly on the rise of neo-Confucianism in the Song dynasty. What it actually is, is a general history of the Song. The first half covers the political and military history of the dynasty (including the foreign dynasties in the North) and the second half is more of a social and economic history on different aspects of the dynasty. As such it wa ...more
Aug 02, 2012 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
The 10th to the 13th centuries in China saw impressive advancements in the economy, science and technology, the arts and other sectors of society. The Song dynasty was the era in which the Chinese invented and perfected, for instance, paper money, movable-type printing and vastly improved mechanized means of production, all underlain by a rationalistic Confucian philosophy and state ideology, and managed by a new class of officials, chosen by a set of competitive civil service examinations, whic ...more
Mar 22, 2016 Marlo rated it really liked it
I have now read the books in this series covering the Qing, Ming and Song. The book on the Ming is far and away the best of the three. This one has some interesting elements, but it also delves frequently into lists of boring statistics. I know this is a super interesting historical period, so this could have easily been made more interesting (like the Ming book). Still, I learned a TON and I don't at all regret having read this. Next up: the Tang dynasty. Really looking forward to that one!
Nov 30, 2012 Ayu rated it it was amazing
This was written by a different person than the one I'm used to. The organization of the chapters is different and some parts are slightly too dense for my taste, but I enjoyed getting a basic look on lief during the Song Dynasty.
Michael Gibbs
Mar 14, 2013 Michael Gibbs rated it it was amazing
An extremely informative overview. Some of the bibliography and notes could be a little clearer, but overall the book is indispensable.
Bryn Hammond
Jan 10, 2012 Bryn Hammond rated it it was amazing
I doubt you can do better on the topic. Sensible, stuffed with information, and not off-putting to me, who's on the Mongols' side.
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Other Books in the Series

History of Imperial China (6 books)
  • The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han (History of Imperial China)
  • China Between Empires: The Northern and Southern Dynasties (History of Imperial China)
  • China's Cosmopolitan Empire: The Tang Dynasty
  • The Troubled Empire: China in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties
  • China's Last Empire: The Great Qing

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